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[Page 260]

The “Linat Holim” Association

(Hospice for the Sick)

Translated by Bill Leibner

In September of 1885, a group of well established people in Sosnowiec organized a society under the name of “Hevrat Bikur Holim” to send helpers or guards to the homes of sick people.

With time, the Society expanded its activities and started to prepare the deceased people for burial. At the time, Sosnowiec did not have a Jewish cemetery or a Jewish burial society. The deceased people were buried at the Jewish cemetery in Bedzin.

Over time, the Society became exclusively involved with burial procedures and neglected the original objective of the Society. A group of people in Sosnowiec organized a society named “Linat Holim” in 1907.

This Society immediately became involved in helping sick people. It sent helpers to the home of the sick, and also sent doctors to the poor that could not afford the fee. The Society also provided milk and fruit to poor patients, and in some cases provided financial assistance for their recuperation in rest homes.

The “Linat Holim” Society was so popular in town that it even created a co-operative bank that was very successful for a period of time. Unfortunately, it collapsed due to mismanagement by some of the members of the management committee. A positive change occurred in 1916 due to the series of epidemics that seriously affected the town's Jewish population that was poorly nourished and lived in poor sanitary conditions.

Sos260.jpg [33 KB] - The management committee of "Linat Holim"
The management committee of “Linat Holim” in 1939
First row, sitting from right: Szymon Koplowicz, Aron Jakob Cygler (treasurer),
Szmul Aron Pardes (vice chairman), Icchak Goldkorn (chairman),
Binem Szpiler (vice chairman), Mosze Wolf Rozenberg (manager).
Second row from right: Ajzyk Igra, Dr. Zilberberg, Wolf Ingster,
Majer Rozenbaum, Mosze Perenc, Lipe Klajnman (honorary secretary).
Third row from right: Mosze Waserman, Zelig Lubelski, Henech Weksler,
Jozef Monczyk, Jozef Lenczner.

[Page 261]

The late Rabbi Majer Gitler z"l revitalized the Society, and within a few days the office functioned again. Medical helpers were sent to the homes of the sick, and medical assistance and other necessities were provided. The Society slowly progressed and expanded until 1933. Then under the energetic leadership of Icchak Goldkorn it undertook a novel practical experiment. He was a man of vision and had the ability to sell ideas. He managed to find the necessary funds to open a clinic on Glowacki Street where several Jewish doctors provided medical care.

The clinic was under the sponsorship of the “Linat Holim” Society. The highlight of activities was reached in 1937 when the medical clinic moved to a new office on Szienkewicz Street number 9. The new office had modern facilities including a waiting hall, a reception office and two examining rooms. It was also equipped with modern medical instruments necessary for internal and external examinations. The doctors could also perform minor surgery.

Each day the clinic treated between 50-70 patients. It must be stressed that the doctors usually examined about 6 patients an hour; this included examinations, recommendations to doctors for further visits or home visits, and the prescriptions of medications and other needs. Membership dues, donations, and special money campaigns sponsored by the management committee paid for the budget of the Society. “Linat Holim” received no subsidies.

The management committee in 1939 consisted of: Icek Goldkorn (chairman), Szmuel Aron Pardes (vice chairman), Binem Szpiler (vice chairman), Lipe Klajnman (secretary), Aron Jakob Cygler (treasurer), Mosze Wolf Rozenberg (manager), Szymon Koplowicz, Ajzyk Igra, Jozef Lenczner, Mosze Wrona, Dawid Zilberberg, Mosze Ferens, Henech Weksler, Wolf Ingster, Yeshayahu Fromer, Josel Monczyk, and Jechiel Pasterman.

The review committee consisted of Alter Jasny, Majer Lancman and Mosze Cudzynowski.

The “Beth Lechem” Association

(Supporting the Needy)

Translated by Bill Leibner

In 1933 Jakob Gelbhar created the society called “Beth Lechem”; the Society was supposed to help on a permanent basis the poor families in the city of Sosnowiec.

The efforts failed, and the Society did not survive the birth pangs. None of the planned activities developed. In 1939, efforts were made to revive the Society. The present initiator was the rabbi Menachem Hager.

At a meeting that took place on April 25th, 1939 in the community hall of the kehila, the rabbi was unanimously elected chairman of the Society. Many city officials, local politicians, and charity officials attended the meeting. The difficult economic situation of the Jewish population in the city, the anti-Jewish atmosphere in the country, and the many Jewish refugees from Germany (for Sosnowiec was on the border), made life very difficult for the renewed society.

About 120 Jewish refugees from Germany remained in Sosnowiec. At first, the Jewish street was very sympathetic and helped the refugees, but the interest died down. The committee that was created to help these refugees barely met and hardly functioned. Its tasks were soon assumed by the “Beth Lechem” Society. The latter opened its doors to the refugees and helped them in every possible way. A public kitchen was opened in the Talmud Torah building for the refugees. Those that could not reach the kitchen for various reasons were provided with food packages at their places of stay.

Sos262.jpg [16 KB] - Rabbi Menachem Hager
Rabbi Menachem Hager

Chairman of the “Beth Lechem” Society and member
of the management committee of the Jewish high
school in Sosnowiec. Delegate to many Zionist
conferences, member of the administrative council
of the Jewish Agency, member of the administrative
council of the “Mizrahi” world Zionist organization.
Well-known leader of the Polish “Mizrahi” movement.
Founding member and member of the presidium of
“Mizrahi” assembly of rabbis. Former head of the
Judicial council of Halicz (1909-1914). Rabbi of the
Galician Jewish refugees during WWI (1915-1918) in
Porlitz, Bohemia. Chairman of the “Mizrahi” and the
Polish Hebrew school system “M'zion Tetse Torah”
in Lemberg (1919-1923). Rabbi of Neustadt, Galicia
(1923-1930). Since 1930, Rabbi and active in social
matters in Sosnowiec.

The refugee kitchen provided three meals a day and basically kept the refugees alive. Jozef Grochowine deserves a great deal of credit for organizing and running the kitchen. The Society did not forget the original aim of supporting the local poor Jewish families, and helped them within the exiting financial framework.

A special problem was presented by impoverished known families who refused to apply for charity. Some of these families even give some charity while the family was starving. The Society tried to reach these special families by sending them weekly food packages without publicizing the event. In this manner the Society fulfilled its obligation to help the poor Jews in town. The Society did not receive subsidies, and depended basically on contributions from the people of the town. The popularity of the Society could be measured by the fact that it had 500 people who contributed weekly donations for the food program.

The logistics of the organization were greatly assisted by the local “WIZO” of Sosnowiec. The members of this organization worked very hard in their drives to collect food for the “Beth Lechem” Society. Very active was the chairman of the “WIZO” branch in Sosnowiec, Gucia Langer, and the member of the management committee of the “Beth Lechem” Society, Dwora Mauritz. The latter devoted most of her free time to assist in the kitchen or enlist donors for the food program. The Jewish academic society “Ogniska” also helped to enlist food donors as did the Zionist youth organization “Hanoar Hatzioni”.

The general secretary of the Society, Emil Leopold Mestel, handled the technical and managerial staff of “Beth Lechem”.

The management committee of the “Beth Lechem” Society in 1939 consisted of: Rabbi Menachem Hager (chairman), dentist Jozef Rotsztajn and Dr. Ala Kenigsberg (vice-chairmen), Israel Marianka (treasurer), Emil Leopold Mestel (secretary), Josef Grochowine (manager), Zalman Koszoch, Jakob Gelbhar, Mosze Meryn, Lajbisz Szancer, Mosze Friszman, Ajzyk Soldin, and the ladies, Gucia Langer, Dwora Mauritz, and Lodzia Oliner.

Stand-by were Pinchas Granadapel, Mosze Windman, Chaim Kuperminc, Ruwen Czapnik, Mendel Jakob Garfinkel, and Izrael Szwajcer.

The review committee consisted of: engineer Baruch Firstenberg, Aszer Klajnberg, and Lajbisz Szwajcer.

[Page 263]

Sos263.jpg [34 KB] - Jewish refugees from Germany
A group of Jewish refugees from Germany eating in the
dining hall of the “Beth Lechem” Society

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