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[Page 586]

The Organization of the
“Friends of the Jewish Hospital”

by Mendel Aryeh of Haifa

Translated by Jerrold Landau

The organization “Friends of the Jewish Hospital” was created in Mezritsh in 1930. Its president was Nota Hauzman of blessed memory, who served as vice mayor in the city council for a period of time. Yankel Buksbaum was the vice president, and Joele Hitlmacher was the treasurer. All strata of the Mezritsh community, from workers to businessmen, participated in the organization.

The Mezritsh Hospital was in a very bad situation and was on the verge of closing. No help was forthcoming from the city council, for the Christians held the balance of power in the city council. They hoped that the hospital would close and they would be able to expunge the Yiddish writing that marked the entrance to the Jewish Hospital. The Friends of the Jewish Hospital organization was set up with the aim of keeping the hospital in Jewish hands so that it could continue to serve the poor, sick Jewish people who were unable to pay the price of 100 zloty – 10 zloty per day – for 10 days of hospitalization. This was a great deal of money for a poor Jew. The hospital had to have a source of income in order to cover its expenses. If the income did not come from somewhere else, it would have to come from the sick people. If a poor person became ill, the patient would rest at home, and those who looked after the patient could not earn their livelihood. The same thing happened with women in childbirth.

The hospital served not only the Jewish population, but also the Christians. The Friends of the Jewish Hospital organization had an agreement with the hospital's management to pay five zloty for each day that a patient was hospitalized. When a patient entered the hospital through the organization, the organization designated how much the patient could be charged. The charge might be 20 zloty for 10 days for one person, and 30 zloty for another person. The remainder was made up by the organization. There were those who were not charged at all, for whom the society paid the fees completely.

The doctors of the hospital were Dr. Kozes, Dr. Kaplan, and a bit later also Dr. Lichtenberg. The surgeon Dr. Glojberman was in charge of the department of surgery. When he later moved to Warsaw, his position was taken over by Dr. Senakor, a surgeon from Brisk, who

[Page 587

would come twice a week, Mondays and Fridays. The business of the hospital was led by Avrahamele Margolis (Szapiro) and his wife Klara, a nurse. When the surgeon had to be summoned urgently, they telephoned him and he came immediately. There was a case where Fishele Droszkasz's daughter was having difficulty giving birth, and the surgeon was needed. The Friends of the Jewish Hospital organization telephoned him, and he responded: “I am coming on the first train. In the meantime, boil the instruments and prepare for the operation. A wagon should be ready at the station.” The doctor arrived and performed the operation, and a boy was born. The doctor was present at the bris, and we drank lechayim to the newborn child and his mother who was saved from death.

We also helped the very ill people who went to hospitals in Warsaw. Our active members were trusty soldiers. A sick person who came to the hospital through us would be wished Mazel Tov by the members upon his recovery. We were in contact with the physicians so that we could send them to the home of the sick person. The doctor would receive two zloty from our society for a house call, instead of [the usual] five. For a night call, a doctor would receive five zloty instead of ten. There was never a case where a doctor did not come immediately.

We had a member on every street, and each had the right to summon a doctor. If we had to send a sick person to the hospital at night, our members would immediately arrive on foot. Our members had the right to hospitalize a patient at any time.

Where did we get the money for all this? First, every person who came to ask for help was required to be a member and pay membership fees – 20 groszy a month or higher. Second, we would go from house to house to enlist new members. We also had Christian members who liked our fine work and paid membership dues. Third, we would conduct a flower day from time to time to collect money on the streets. Aside from this, we collected money at weddings, banquets, etc.

We sat in the synagogues on the eve of Yom Kippur. I sat in the Great Synagogue, together with Reb Chaim Szapiro of blessed memory. He sat with a [collection] tray for the Jewish National Fund [Keren Kayemet] and I sat with a tray for the Friends of the Jewish Hospital. When we sat together in the synagogue on the Eve of Yom Kippur, he expressed the wish that we should meet in the Land of Israel. He made aliya a bit before me.

[Page 588]

When I arrived, I unfortunately no longer found him alive. Reb Chaim Szapiro died in Israel before I arrived.

The Mezritsher Jews in America played a special role in offering help to the hospital. When Shlomo Kamien, the former vice–mayor of Mezritsh visited Mezritsh [from his home in America], we invited him to see our work. After he returned to America, we frequently received help from there. When Mezritsher guests came from America, they would leave a nice donation.

In 1946, after the war, I visited Mezritsh. I did not recognize my hometown. Everything was destroyed, and there were no Jews. Only the hospital remained standing. The gentiles survived. The fine, Jewish letters had been erased. In their place, “Szpital Mieski” [City Hospital] was written in Polish.


The Jewish Hospital in gentile hands



[Page 589]

The TAZ Society in Mezritsh in 1929[1]

Translated by Jerrold Landau

It has already been a few years since the TAZ Society has been intensively working in our city. TAZ demonstrates a great deal of understanding for the local Jewish poor population, who live with very difficult sanitary conditions. TAZ's intensive activities have broadened in scope from year to year, to the point that a dispensary was opened this winter which served 57 people over the past several months. 1,036 radiology sessions took place. Patients who did not have the means to pay large sums for radiation, were able to improve their health for the minimal sum of one zloty per adult, or 50 groszy per child. 165 people came for consultations for lung diseases. Of them, twelve adults and thirty–nine children who were suffering from tuberculosis were treated at no cost. Fourteen adults and eighteen children were placed under observation.

There were 210 house calls made, which were also very important, aimed at evaluating the hygienic conditions in the house.

Much was also done in the area of school hygiene. Up to 1,000 children in three schools were under supervision. Of them, 360 children were sent to the school infirmary over the course of the last year.

As always, a playground was opened during the summer, which was visited by 120 children. The playground was equipped with all facilities, including toys for the children. The children were given free milk every day.

TAZ is now embarking upon a new, important undertaking – summer colonies. In July, seven children were sent to Domaszew and three to Otwock. This was, however, a small proportion of the large number of sick children who should have been sent for treatment.

The aforementioned numbers demonstrate the magnitude of the work of the local TAZ.

“Mezritsher Trybuna”, July 19, 1929

Editor's Footnote:

  1. TAZ was the name of a Jewish healthcare organization that initially operated mainly in the Jewish communities of Poland. In 1922 it joined forces with AZA (an acrostic in Russian for “The Association for the Preservation of the Health of Jews”) to bring health care services to Jews all over Europe. It was particularly active between the two world wars. Return


[Page 590]

The Orphanage of Mezritsh

Translated by Jerrold Landau

During the years prior to the First World War, cities and towns were full of abandoned orphan children. Full and partial orphans would literally wander about the streets and back alleys of Mezritsh. They wandered around hungry and dirty, without the minutest amount of supervision, and without any opportunities for a change in their lives.


The festive opening of the orphanage

In the photo, the orphans who were gathered together from the community. Among the others, is Madame Adler.


During that time, the JOINT's action[1] to build orphanages to take in the unfortunate children was beginning in Poland. Such a home was created in Mezritsh as well through the initiative of Madame Anna Adler and others.

The JOINT, which supported the orphanages in Poland throughout the entire time, began to reduce its grants and finally almost entirely stopped its support. The [other] Jewish organizations in Poland had to take those orphans under their care. The same thing happened in Mezritsh.

Undeterred by the difficult economic situation,

[Page 591]

the committee of the orphanage not only took upon itself the task of providing the children with food and clothing, but also concerned itself with caring for their physical and spiritual development, as well as teaching them a trade. Our Mezritsh natives in America helped a great deal.

At the beginning of 1927, through the initiative of important Mezritsh natives in America A. Greenblatt, Moshe Gedalia Sajete, and others, forty–two orphan children were sent over to Canada along with their gifted music teacher Pesach Podoljak and the very dedicated educator Yosef Danilack.

For various reasons, eighteen children were not taken over [to Canada]. Today, there are 20 orphans in the orphanage


The children of the orphanage in Mezritsh in 1928


“Mezritsher Trybuna”, December 21, 1928

Editor's Footnotes:

  1. JOINT – The American–based Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Return


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