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Chapter Thirteen:

Philanthropic Institutions in Bialystok
Schools, Houses of Study, Minyans

 

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ח    H

Bialystoker Endowments[20]

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

The Business Matters of the Endowments

We write about the endowments because they reflect the same motives that encourage tzadekah [charity]. However, there is another stronger motive present. Endowments actually signify: worlds, as well as – eternity. All funds, the houses and other estates are called by the names of the rich and the wealthy Jews who left a percentage of the money or the income from the houses or estates after their death – to support charitable or educational institutions. The estates call themselves Keren Kayemet [Jewish National Fund], that is a keren [fund], a foundation that remains untouched, only the interest, the income is used. Therefore, the significance of the endowment lies in immortalizing the name of that person who registered the endowment.

Usually the name of every ordinary person is forgotten after his death and by the fourth or fifth generation at most, his memory is entirely

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erased and no one even among his heirs knows anything, that there once lived such and such a person. However, the person will not let themselves be forgotten. He will remain in the memory of the future generations, among his people, in his city, his family. The person will do something that will make him unforgettable. The Egyptian rulers built the mighty monuments, pyramids, for that purpose 1,000 years ago. They wanted to make themselves immortal through – stones.

With other cultures, there is an inclination to erect monuments of stone, iron, bronze to immortalize the names of kings, folk-heroes and great people. However, Jews never believed in such monuments that are erected after a man's death. Jews ridiculed this and called it: “Who built for themselves places now lying in ruins” (Job 3:14)[21]. Jews always place the emphasis on good deeds that a person did and created during his life. The Jewish sages said: “They call the lands after their own names.” (Psalms 49:12) - we do not make monuments for tzadikim [righteous ones]; their things (good deeds) remind us of them. Moshe Rabbeinu [Moses our teacher] and the Jewish prophets live in the cultural memory of all present day people; our sages and folk heroes live in the memory of our people without any stone, iron, bronze monuments.

However, with what can a regular man, a Jew, make himself immortal and unforgettable? At first, after his death, the Jewish faith takes care in providing mourners for shiva [the seven-day mourning period after a death] and for shloshim [the 30-day period of mourning]; later Kaddish [prayer for the deceased] is said for an entire year and yahrzeit [anniversary of a death] [is observed] for as long as the children live, but with the children's children every memory usually is extinguished. There is only one means to prevent the forgetting and extinguishing for each common man and Jew and this is – endowments. It lies in human nature in a certain sense to want to make oneself immortal in the world. This trait in a person's psychology was used very well by Professor Herman SZPIRO, the founder of the Jewish National Fund, through which every Jew who donated 100 rubles was inscribed in the world of remembrance in the Golden Book of the Keren Kayemet. And he did not make a mistake: the first book with 5,000 such registered names gave to Keren Kayemet half a million rubles to buy land in Eretz-Yisroel for the Jewish people, land that remains the Jewish nation's land forever.

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The List of Bialystoker Endowments

Alas, this high thought did not develop with us in Bialystok; Bialystoker funds were very few and insignificant.

Bialystoker Jewish endowments up to today are:

1) The first endowment of the earlier generation was from Ithse ZABLUDOWSKI, who was the first very rich man of the Bialystoker kehile [organized Jewish community] – he erected the Jewish hospital and in addition placed 4,500 rubles in the Russian State Bank. The money became worthless after the war.

2) After this comes the house of Warszawer Street in which the Vilner and then the Riga Bank were located before the war that was the bequest for the endowment of Ahron-Shabtai GORDON, who is the father of Markus A. Sh. GORDON. The house was purchased for only 8,000 rubles, but later, before the war, it rose in worth to 30,000 rubles with a yearly income of 3,500. Half of the income goes to poor relatives and half for charitable institutions. Today (5693 [1933]) it has a much smaller value with a smaller income; it again belongs to the heirs of the firm who are today impoverished men.

3) A bequest from Reb Elihu MAJLAK: a large two-story house, built on Gela Street for a Talmud-Torah [primary religious school for poor boys] and yeshiva [religious secondary school]; later it was given as a kindergarten. Now the municipal community and a beis-medrash [house of study and prayer] are located in the kindergarten.

4) Two buildings were bequeathed to an endowment of Reb Meir GARBER or Meir FISZ, on the corner of Cypiska and Rozaner. The income from one building belongs to the Talmud-Torah, from the second one – to the beis-medrash and the Society of Protectors.

5) The old age home on Cypiska Street. This house was built for the purpose of the bequest: 7,000 rubles from Moshe MALC and 3,000 rubles from Reb Yehoshaya LIPSZIC.

6) For the foundation in memory of Chaim-Avraham TRILING, his wife, Helena TRILING, bought Dovid SUCHOWOLSKI's house on the rabbi's street (which is on “Argentina”) for a sum of 10,000 rubles – for the Professional Girls School.[22]

7) The largest and most important foundation from a Bialystoker was given by the wife Fanya and her children, the heirs of Eliyahu TRILING, the brother and partner of Chaim-Avraham TRILING of the former

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firm Gebrider Triling [TRILING brothers]. The foundation in the name of Mrs. Fanya and Eliyahu TRILING – for a sanatorium for lung diseases and children with tuberculosis. The foundation consists of a very large inherited house with a courtyard and gardens at Fabryczna Street 27 and, in addition, approximately 30,000 dollars in cash. The directors of the Joint [Distribution Committee] gave 2,500 dollars for this (to build a sanatorium house of three stories). However, because of a crisis in the family, the interior provisions of the villa were not completed. However, the ground floor that consists of a dispensary, curative light office, x-ray room, reception room for nursing children, doctor's office and apothecary are already functioning today.[23]

8) The house and the courtyard of Lines Kholim [charity hospital] is a bequest of Mrs. Tsina Fajnberg.

9) The house and the courtyard on Ruczaner Alley that belonged to Benyamin NAWIGRUDSKI went to the ownership of Fishl BARASZ because of a loan; which he gave to the endowment of the Lines haTzedek [society to care for the sick].

10) The building wing for Lines haTzedek was built from the bequest of 4,750 rubles from Mrs. WILBURSZEWICZ in the memory of her husband, the apothecary WILBURSZEWICZ.

11) 6,000 rubles, a bequest of Gitl YAFA (the wife of Avrahaml YAFA) – for the Talmud-Torah. The large square on Lipowa (today – Pilsudski, 41) on which was built the large buildings of the Artisans School and Talmud-Torah (today one of the first Hebrew school for girls).

12) The largest and most important among the funds, however was not from a Bialystoker, but from a rich man from Moscow, Reb Kalman-Volf VITSOTSKY, the well-known Zionist and philanthropist – was up to 70,000 rubles for erecting the buildings of the artisans school and the Talmud-Torah.

13) Noakh PERLO, a Bialystoker in Vilna, left a fund of 40,000 rubles for the Bialystoker Jewish Hospital, which remained a smaller sum because of the war. For the money, the x-ray office in the hospital was set up.

14) Five shops from various people with an income of 150 rubles a year for the Talmud-Torah, Bikur-Khoylim [organization for visiting the sick], Malbushim Arumin [organization to provide clothing for the needy].[24]

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15) Two of Yitzhak ZABLUDOWSKI's houses for Hakhnosas Orkhim [hospitality for guests].

16, 17, 18) Bequests which did not come into effect because of the war:

a) A bequest of 750,000 marks from Professor Izidor ZABLUDOWSKI for a Jewish old age home in Bialystok after his wife's death; b) 60,000 rubles from Dr. FARSZTERER – two shares for his sister's children and a third for the Jewish institutions in Bialystok, after his wife's death. 10,000 zlotys which were later reduced from the entire sum, were proportionally divided; c) 15,000 rubles, written into his will by Reb Chaim Ber ZAKHAJM to found a division for physical illnesses in the name of his physically ill son, Yakov.

 

Bequests for Houses of Study

19) The House of Study on Yidn [Jews] Street in the name of Yehiel Nekhe's [Yehiel, son of Nekhe] who was the donor of the house to the House of Study.

20) The House of Study of Itshe ZABLUDOWSKI on Yidn Street that was later transformed into a reform syngagoue.

21) BUKOWSZTAJN'S House of Study located on Gumiener (Kubiecki) Street, a bequest of Shmuel BUKOWSZTAJN.

22) PUCZE's House of Study on Fabriczne Street. The courtyard and the buildings are a bequest of Mrs. Bluma PUCZE, daughter of the late, Naftali-Herc haLevi [Levite], our rabbi and teacher.

23) House of Study Lumdi Shas [Torah Studies] on Wersalski Street is a bequest by Yakov BIBER, a former coachman.

24) “Oficersker” House of Study on Oficerska Street is a bequest of Berl ABRASZ, a former malamed [religious teacher], childless.

25) The House of Study “Talmud Society” in the synagogue courtyard was built from the bequeathed house of Reb Zev-Borukh, son of our teacher the Rabbi Eliezar and his wife, Malka.

26) The House of Study NAJMARK was built and donated from the bequest of Reb Naftali-Herc NAJMARK.

27) KROCHMALNIK's House of Study was a bequest of Reb Moshe-Dovid ORLANSKI.

28) Moshe MAJLACH's House of Study (see earlier chapter).

29) BACER's House of Study on Piaskes [Piaskowa?].

30) “Frume Sura [Pious Sura] or “Argentiner” House of Study.

31) BIALOSTOCKI House of Study, Mazowiecka, 16.

32) Liba Ruchl's House of Study, or Eiznban Khadash [new railroad] (see earlier chapter).


Footnotes

  1. For the list of endowments, I used the lists and instructions, which were published in the Bialystoker Tageblat [Bialystok Daily Newspaper], 1913, nos. 5, 8, 137. Return
  2. According to another version in the Midrash [Talmudic commentaries], Syrian-Aramaic translation of the Old Testament and Septuaginta [ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible] – one reads graves, however the idea is the same: to ridicule the grave monument through which one will be immortalized. Return
  3. During the war, the house was given as a workers' kitchen; the Bund supported it by itself. Today it is a TSYSHO [Central Yiddish School Organization – organizer of Yiddish languages schools] school. Return
  4. See Bialystoker Almanac, 1931, pp. 169-170. Return
  5. One shop at the Talmud-Torah was bequeathed by Yisroel GARFINKL (Yisroel the Levite) from Zabludowa. One shop at the Talmud-Torah was in the name of Tzwi-Hirsh bar [son of] Asher-Anshel FAJNBERG (his wife is Dina bar [daughter of] Arye-Leib Amdurer). Return

 

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