translated by Rabbi David Haymovitz We brought the various detailed memories about the free loan societies in Lida which reflect the deep feelings of the residents of our city for this great deed. When your brother will become poor and his means fail you shall uphold him that your brother shall live with you.
Steadfast on the work( Shokdai Melacha)-I wonder if many former residents of our city, members of our generation, still remember the association under that name in Lida. This was a society organization of one man - and he was Reb Yitzkak Yerochmanoff, of blessed memory. He was the initiator, he was the solicitor, he went around collecting and he was very busy day-in and day-out in the holy work of finding and bringing together children abandoned and deprived of education. He undertook the responsibility to teach them Torah and a profession. More memories of this dear personality you will find in this book in another department.
Caring for the sick(Mishmeret Cholim)-This society was the creation of Reb Nateh Shlovsky, of blessed memory. The goal of the organization is the meaning of the name: help for the poor sick and treating them. Formerly this was the responsibility of a another busy group. It seems that as times passed on, there was a need to establish a new society to increase these activities. A special Sabbath was dedicated yearly for the purpose of strengthening the work of the society. (If I am not mistaken, this was the Sabbath of the portion Vayera.) On this Sabbath the members of the society met for a festive meal and heard reports of activities completed and planned programs for the future.
TAZ was a society created by the needs of the new modern life. It was a branch of the national TAZ in Poland that was active and accomplished a lot to enhance good health among the Jewish population of Lida. Among the main activities were summer camps for the children of poor families who could not afford it. The leadership of the camps represented people from all walks of life and from all parties.
In addition to the societies whose names describe their activities were dozens of charitable individuals and righteous ladies to whom all broken hearts found their way.
Who did not know Racha Di Krupnitze ( Rache the Groats Maker)? Nevertheless, many women in trouble knew her address in the market in the cellar of Meyer Shteinberg, there was her living place together with the store for her groats. She did not organize campaigns and did not send out brochures but when a woman in trouble came to her, she found an open heart and open bag of flour and an open bag of groats. A little later Rache was going around into the stores, a red handkechief in her hand which was slowly filled with coins of different sizes and the woman in trouble did not leave empty handed.
Moishe Kalman, the butcher, found a special cause to keep him busy. When Reb Moishe Kalman sat at the Shabbath table he could not free himself from the terrible worry that at exactly at this very time on Kamuneka Street, inside a white building, behind bars, are sitting Jews that the troubles they suffered made them lose their minds and committed bad things and were incarcerated. And if during the weekdays they feel bitterness, how much more is the bitter loneliness on Sabbath. Surely they sinned and were punished but to take away from them the wonderful feeling of Sabbath that is our sin. What did he do? He took two huge baskets and every Sabbath morning he used to go to Jewish homes to ask for donations of Challah, whole ones, half ones, or even one slice for the Jewish prisoners. When the two baskets were filled, he turned up to Kamuneka Street, as he carried with great effort the heavy load to the city prison. There the guards knew him and welcomed him and the gates of this said institute were open to him. Reb Moishe Kalman was a very sick man and suffered pain in his legs, nevertheless, this mitzvah that he chose, he did not let go out of his hands all the days of his life. He saw in it a special calling, or in the language of his generation his part in the world to come.
We shall end this poor review (poor, compared to the great number of societies and charity organizations of various kinds and indivual charitable people that worked in various times among the Jews of Lida and which unfortunately we can not remember). Let us finish the review with another example of the special care that the Jews of Lida for the poor of their city. We found it in the local newspaper of the year 1881.
It is a report about a charitable society called Bread for the Poor. Their goal was to bake bread and to sell it very cheaply two kopecks a pound - to the poor people of the city.
The term philanthropy we sometimes express in a disdainful way. But let us not forget the basic meaning of that term love of human beings. And how much strength of the soul, how much feeling did the selected members of the Jewish community invest in these activities of charity and human kindness. These were the people who carried the conscience of the community. Who tried all they could do to bind the wounds, to sooth the pain and to correct as much as possible the damage done by a distorted world order. They could not change it but helped as much as possible. And therefore when new ideas came in a new age they found enthusiasm in members of the Jewish community who were always dreaming of a basic change in Jewish life and in society in general. And this dream came from the same old source - love of Israel and love of human beings.
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