Early Health Institutions
by Shmuel Kafri
Translated from the Hebrew by Dafna Meltzer
The first institution to provide medical services to patients in the town was very modest and was housed in the private home of Nachman Weinshenker, of one of the wealthiest and most respected families in town.
Nachman received a respectable inheritance from Menashe, his father. Those in the know used to tell that his riches came to him from the wealth at his disposal. We must remember that there were plenty of wealthy owners in that town, as this was at the end of the prior century [19th].
Nachman Weinshenker founded the medical institution, but he maintained it with his friend Yosel Leibushes, who was also one of the Hasidim who stood at the doors of those with financial means in the town, asking for contributions to provide medical services by the dedicated Dr. Zilberman.
In fact, for many years Dr. Zilberman was the only physician in the area. He was an excellent diagnostician, but a bit irritable. He also devoted a lot of his time to treating the poor without payment.
There are those who point also to Hekdesh - the small building which stood at the edge of town before it became an institution for social services strictly for poor passerby and served as a clinic for those of limited means. Those with knowledge tell us that when the cholera epidemic broke out, at the end of the 19th Century, they brought the sick Jews here from the surrounding villages. It was only when the hospitals were established that Hekdesh stopped providing medical services.
Before the first Jewish hospital was established, named after Yaakov Shimon Kaufman, there was a government-run hospital; perhaps it would be more accurate to call it a clinic, under the management of the Christian-Ukrainian Dr. Pablovsky. It was housed in a rather humble structure between the homes of Hirsch Feingold and Shmuel Pradis. Mostly Christians from the surrounding areas went to this hospital, and some Jews. Pablovsky was a specialist in his field but also a staunch Jew-hater. With the opening of the more sophisticated hospital named after Y.S. Kaufman, Pablovsky's clinic closed, and the doctor disappeared from the town.
The Medic Gantzerov worked alongside Pablovsky and learned from him to some extent, the science of medicine. Gantzerov was the one who visited the Jewish homes, learned Yiddish like a Jew, but even though he made his living from the Jews, and handsomely so, he was still a Jew -hater.
In Yedinitz there was also an old Christian man by the name of Michay, who was an expert in the treatment of bone fractures. Any break or sprain he would fix and heal with extraordinary expertise. His payment was a bottle of vodka, as he would not accept money. About the expertise of this Michay there was in Yedinitz the following story: It happened that a Yedinitzer broke his leg and the doctor sent him to a specialist, a professor in Kiev. When the professor found out from where the patient came from, he said, In Yedinitz you already have a specialist in fractures, and his name is Michay; difficult cases we send patients to him, and you came to me?
|Bubbes and Midwives
Before the arrival of certified midwives who finished specialized schools or certifications, non-certified midwives worked in the town; those were called Bubbes (Grannies), who learned their trade through experience. The certified midwives were called Akusharke in Russian. The most popular Akusharke was Mrs. Khaliev. Her husband managed the Savings and Loans Bank that was established in 1908 under the name Ezra [help]. Mr. Khaliev died in Yedinitz. The midwife, Mrs. Khaliev moved to Israel with her family in the 1930s and passed away in the 1940s. Her daughter, Mina, passed away in the 1960s.
by Mordechai Reicher
Translated from the Hebrew by Dafna Meltzer
There were many versions of stories circulating in town about the founders of the first city hospital: the Yaakov Shimon Kaufman (Koifman) Hospital and about Kaufman's large family. The most accepted version is the one from Idel Galperin, a family member. He was named after Yaakov Shimon's father, Reb Idel from Putchumban, a village near Yedinitz. (Editor's note: Today this village is called Pociumbeni).
Idel from Putchumban was a rich Jew, a farm owner in this same village. His son Yaakov Shimon was a trustee to the landlord Klamutzky, owner of large farms near the village of Corjeuti (editor's note: village in the Briceni District). Father and son were also in charge of the flour mill and the vineyards of the same landlord.
Idel's family resided in a large house with a courtyard and assorted fruit trees near the village of Corjeuti. He was a very generous man and contributed to many Jewish institutions in the nearby Yedinitz. He even contributed generously to Christian institutions.
Despite his considerable wealth, and even though he was involved with Christians, he was faithful to Jews and Jewish institutions. On Holidays, he would go to Yedinitz to pray and sit at his and his family's regular spot at the synagogue. He would often visit the Rabbi and give him funds.
When Idel, as head of the family passed away, his son Yaakov Shimon purchased several farms from their owners near the village of Corjeuti and in the villages of Fitesht and אורדינשט (Ordinsht) He followed in his father's footsteps in his dealings with Jews and Jewish institutions and in providing support for social institutions in Yedinitz.
Yaakov Shimon had ten children, whom he sent to study in institutions of higher learning in Moscow, Odessa, Kiev, and Petrograd. Since Jews were not accepted in universities in Russia by law, they had no choice, or so they claimed, but to renounce their religion, even though in their hearts they remained faithful to Judaism. And they also claimed that they did it because of a national law that forbids them from owning land.
Unfortunately, Yaakov Shimon met a tragic death. One day, he went to tend to his flocks and was fatally bit by mosquitoes. A shiny headstone, visible from a distance, was placed in the cemetery of Yedinitz.
A tragic fate also befell his son, Yosef, the only one who did not renounce his faith (according to S. Kormansky) and who inherited some of his father's farms in Fitesht. When the pogroms broke out at the beginning of World War I, the peasants attacked his daughter, plundered his house, and beat him to death.
One of the sons, Johann, who was at the time studying in Petrograd, returned home and was able to salvage some of his father's properties. The sons wanted to preserve the memory of their father by founding a hospital in his name. They contacted Meir Boim and Leitzy Rabin, asking for help in the creation of the medical institution. According to one version of the story, those in charge of Chevre Kadisha (burial society) demanded an extremely high price for the burial of their father. But the sons, who considered the price to be excessive, elected instead to open an urban hospital that would carry their father's name. They gave 10,000 rubles to Abraham Milgrom and that provided the initial funds for the hospital.
The structure that was built was big, spacious, and fancy. They obtained medical equipment, invited doctors, and the patients found a very efficient and pleasant medical facility. Unfortunately, there was not a serious public institution that could support the hospital and even the sons gave up. After a few years, the hospital, the only one in town, closed. The main reason for the closing was the start of World War I and all its repercussions.
When the building was vacated, his son Johann moved in. From that point, Johann became a resident of the town and a visible presence. Tall, wide-shouldered, good-looking, and elegant, he was a striking figure in the landscape of the town. And even though Johann, like his brothers, had renounced the Jewish faith (by the way, he became Christian-Lutheran) under the circumstances described, he, like his father, tried to stay close to Jewish interests and frequently contributed to Jewish institutions in the town, but not as much as his father, as he was already less wealthy.
Johann lived a long life. In his later years, he endeavored to get the heads of the Jewish community to agree to bury him in the Jewish cemetery, but they refused. He was buried in the Christian cemetery.
Many stories circulated in the town about Yaakov Shimon Kaufman, owner of large farms, sort of a Jewish Landlord in the Christian part of the town, of whom four of his five sons went out to the wrong culture, and that the sons wanted to go back to their people and their religion, but for some reason, it did not come to pass.
died in Bucharest in January 1973
by Sheindel Sadovnik-Berezin
Translated from the Yiddish by Asher Szmulewicz
I came to Yedinitz to stay with my Aunt Chava Loibman in 1930, half a year after the passing away of my Uncle Shmuel, may he rest in peace. He died being seventy years old one day before Shavuot eve. He bequeathed the building Prichojanes, the house of study, that he established a few decades ago and which was in good condition. He left the large apartment where he and my aunt used to live to create a hospital. In addition, he left a large sum of money: his will stated that he bequeathed 10,000 lei to ten institutions. Among them, I remember, there was the library, the O.S.E., etc.
The whole shtetl community followed his coffin. It was said to be the greatest funeral ceremony in town. In front of each institution funded by my uncle in his will, the people stopped, and the last contribution of the deceased was fulfilled on the spot with an envelope containing 10,000 lei.
In his will, my Uncle Shmuel demanded explicitly that the hospital be founded after his death must include a surgical department. My aunt was sixty-five years old then and she was appointed trustee of his will. A board of directors was created with twenty-five members from the city. I remember, that in addition to my Aunt Chava, the chairperson, there was the wife of Doctor Shott, Avraham Milgroim, Mrs. Pradis, Israel Rosenthal, and others. They all have been deceased for quite a long time.
My aunt worked very hard, first to build and then to manage the hospital. This was her life duty. She managed the administration, the finance, and the staff. She cared about funding, the equipment, the maintenance, and the medical supplies of the hospital. She was busy managing the hospital from dawn until late at night.
She knew every corner and she dealt with every detail. Her non-stop mind and even more, her heart, were never tired during all these years. She also included me in her activities. When I arrived in Yedinitz, I dreamed of enhancing my learning. However, my work at the hospital and its appeal completely consumed me. I was a voluntary worker in many departments in the hospital, and occasionally, I also worked as a nurse.
Then, I was required to travel to Kishinev to obtain advice from Professor Epstein about all the subjects related to the establishment of the hospital. Professor Epstein recommended we hire Dr. Erwin Briliant, from the shtetl Sotshava (today's Suceava) in Bukovina (or Shotz as it was named by Jews) to be the first surgeon. Dr. Briliant and his wife died tragically in Odessa during the Nazi period: they were burned alive. The second doctor was Dr. Ferdman, who fulfilled the position of Dr. Briliant after he left.
Established by Shmuel and Chava Loibman in the year 1930
1. Dr. Be'eri (today in Haifa) 2. Dr. Ferdman (today: Dr. Bosin, Beilinson hospital), 3. a nurse 4. Sheindele Berezin-Sadovnik zl 5. a nurse 6. Pharmacist Berlin-Goldman (today in Holon)
Today, Dr. Ferdman lives in Israel, and he changed his name to Bosin. He works in the Beilinson hospital in Petach-Tikvah. Dr. Be'eri worked in the Yedinitz hospital for many years as an intern, and today, he lives in Israel and works at Kupat Cholim in Haifa.
Every year we organized an evening ball to raise funds for the hospital. We received special contributions for a bed or support a bed, etc. Contributions to the hospital also came from former Yedinitz inhabitants living in the United States or South America. I remember, for example, receiving donations from the Yedinitz committee of New York and the committee in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The hospital was mainly intended for Jews.
Usually, poor patients or with low income did not pay. Also, Christians from the district came to the hospital. The Christians paid the hospital for their stay and their treatments. In the whole district, there was no other hospital. The hospital had the following departments: internal medicine, gynecology, and surgery. There was also an outpatient service. Later, we added the Ophthalmology and X-Ray Departments.
I don't remember the amount of the annual budget. Yitzhak Gutman was the manager and accountant. His wife Malka was a voluntary worker at the hospital. She used to keep an eye on the kitchen, often went shopping for food supplies, and she substituted as the cook when needed.
1. Royze Alisman 2. 3. Aran Bintner 4. 5. Sheindele Berzin-Sadovnik 6. hospital nurse, 7. Henie Lodmir-Epelman 8. Yeva Bronstein 9,10,11 , 12. Mirke Froykis 13. Sheva Kliger 14. Dr. Be'eri 15. Dr. Feldman-Bosin 16. Loiman Chava 17. Feige Ludmir-Bronstein 18. , 19. hospital nurse 20. Heni Weintroib 21,22,23 , 24. Yehudit Risman 25. Chaya Aizenberg
The staff consisted of two doctors: a surgeon (his salary was between 12-14 thousand lei a month) and an intern (his salary was 8-9 thousand lei a month); two nurses (salary about thousand lei a month, except expenses). The doctors also had private practices. There were also the caregivers called palatnitzes, a cook, and a servant. An especially difficult task was to pump water from the well into the bathroom which was on the upper floor.
The hospital included two large rooms called palates, one for men and one for women, and two private rooms. In total, there were over twenty beds.
The inauguration of the hospital was on the third candle of Hanukkah. It was a custom that every year on the second day of Hanukkah, there was an evening celebration party in the hospital for the patients including the participation by the staff and guests. Every Chol HaMoed Sukkot, the yearly ball was organized to solicit contributions used to purchase new bed linens for the hospital.
The hospital lacked a maternity clinic (rodilne). Sometimes, an expecting woman delivered her baby in the hospital. The first boy born in the hospital was named Shmuel, after my uncle.
In the year 1934, I married Shlomo Sadovnik from Soroke (today's Soroca) and I lived with him in Yedinitz until the Russians arrived in 1939. In 1940, the Russians transformed the hospital into a state polyclinic. We let the Russians live in a wing of the hospital in the yard. Afterward, we moved to Czernowitz, where my husband found employment as an accountant in the sweater factory owned by our cousins Isaak and Sonia Shochat (both passed away in Tel Aviv).
We wanted to bring our Aunt Chava with us. But the war broke out, the Romanians arrived with the Germans, and we were torn apart. There were no more links between Czernowitz and Bukovina. Then came the time of adversity. Our Aunt Chava was sent to Transnistria, and she died in Mogilev. We learned the exact day of her death: 1941, on the 14 of Av (July-August).
Jews brought with them a few Torah scrolls from the house of study to Transnistria. One Torah scroll remained in Mogilev, where the deported Jews prayed with a minyan. Afterward, I was informed that another Torah scroll was found in Beltz.
This chronicle, which I wrote while visiting Israel, should serve as a remembrance to my Uncle Shmuel and Aunt Chava Loibman, and to the institution they established.
Translated from the Hebrew by Dafna Meltzer
1. Dr. Sobolevsky 2. Clinic staff person (a Russian) 3. Avraham Chayos, country doctor 4. Dr. Ferdman, today Bosin, a surgeon at Beilinson Hospital in Israel. 5. An assistant nurse (a Christian) 6. A Jewish Soviet doctor 7. Yaffe Rosenthal, today Rosenzweig in Netanya. She was then a nurse, and gave us this photo. 8. Buzya Steiff, a nurse in Yedinitz 9. Esther Wasserman (from the Mutchniks), secretary of the clinic 10. Assistant nurse (a Christian)
A medical institution all its own, quite extraordinary, was Sheindel Baum (known as Sheindel Itzes), an older woman, short, wide-bodied, and slow-moving. On her wrinkled face perched glasses and through the lenses peeked smiling eyes, encouraging, motherly. On the street, she was seen walking while holding in one hand a thick cane and on the other a large bag with medical instruments and medicines. On winter nights, before electricity was installed in the town, she was forced to carry with her also a lantern to light the way in the darkness.
Sheindel's special expertise was in healing wounds, boils, burns, and all sorts of eczemas.
Sheindel was always willing to help anybody who needed her, day or night, Shabbat, and Holidays. She answered every call and brought along her special equipment for surgeries of sores if that was needed, and her medications, particularly different herbs from the personal pharmacy, she kept at home. Her Christian clients provided her with plants as needed. People liked to say that she had complete command of the science of botany and the secrets of the plants.
Meir Baum, her husband, whose main activity was to analyze fields and their cultivation, and who devoted most of his free time to public causes to such extent that there was hardly an institution where he was not an active member, did not interfere at all in the activities of his wife Sheindel, so she was able to devote herself completely to her medical pursuits.
However, besides the medical pursuits, she also managed her family's supply store. She also traveled to well-known commercial centers, Odessa, Warsaw, Lodz in the days of the Tsar, and afterwards to Czernowitz and Iaşi during Romanian rule, to bring back from their merchandise for her store. Though it was not the store that preoccupied her. She often neglected the family store and devoted most of her time to those who needed her help and her warm and motherly touch.
Sometimes she would not even wait to be called to a patient. As soon as she heard that someone was suffering from some wounds and particularly if the issue were part of her expertise, she would show up by herself at the home of the injured to provide him with her efficient help.
Among the Christians in the area, her reputation was even more solid than among the Jews in the town. And they came for her from far away.
Her services were provided with no compensation. And if they pressed her, she reluctantly accepted only a symbolic payment for the medicaments she provided.
Many believed that the medical aid Sheindel provided proved itself efficient and effective, and more than once the doctors and experts in the town, such as the Clinic Pablovsky, Dr. Zilberman, the medic Gantzerov, and others, could not compare to her.
Shalom Caspi remembers a particularly successful medical intervention. This happened to him a few decades ago, when he was a child and a pupil of Gedalia Melamed.
One evening Shalom felt pain in his ribs. As the pain intensified, his mother made an antiseptic paste and rubbed it in the area where he complained of pain. The paste was too concentrated and immediately he felt as if a fire burned his skin. The spot turned into one large wound, darkened, and the pain was insufferable.
His family members were scared and hastened to bring Dr. Zilberman, and after him, Pablovsky, but they could not do anything; the poor child writhed with pain. It was not until early the next morning, when he was exhausted, that they called Sheindel Itzes. She came immediately. Walked in slowly, leaning on her heavy cane, with a motherly look on her face, and with a light smile, almost childish, approached the patient, inspected the wound with knowledge, and asked that they bring her a bowl with a little milk, and a towel.
She dipped the towel in the milk and placed it on the wound. As so, every so often, for a full hour. And it was a miracle, the pain subsided; the wound healed as if nothing had happened. What did they say then? As if by a miracle
Such was the medical power of Sheindel Baum.
But the elderly woman suffered when she was forced to leave town in a convoy to the horrors of Transnistria when she was 86.
May these lines be a memory to this noble soul. Town residents will keep her memory in their hearts.
Translated from the Hebrew by Dafna Meltzer
It happened more than once, when an epidemic broke out in the town, that all healing efforts, with all the doctors and medications, did not help the patients nor the community.
In those cases, town residents would help themselves to a variety of strange and unusual medical therapies that had not been learned in any medical school and that the providers did not have to show any recognized certification. There was to them more of a belief than scientific proof. Many believed that therapy of this kind more than once really saved the patient from sure death. We will examine some of those.
Those were women whose medical profession was expressed by readings of verses, magical sayings, prayers, blessings, etc. Every verse matched the specific illness, wound, etc. By these means, they addressed specifically the evil eye, the swelling from insect bites, and so forth.
These Whisperers, besides verses and curses, used an assortment of tangible items totally scientific. They would, for example, pour liquid wax on the head of a child who was, for some reason, afraid of an older person, or a Christian, or a soldier, or a policeman, or any other unusual thing. An additional and proven method was a good luck charm the whisperer gave the patient. Charms against illnesses and all sorts of plagues were also given out by different Rebbes.
A well-known Whisperer was Yekutiel Dorf Zl. His son, Shmuel Kafri, tells us: my father knew to whisper and whoever complained of a headache or something similar, my father would whisper to him. He learned to whisper from the Royal HaMalach (the Royal Angel) book that was at our home, and we used to think of it as a sacred book.
Also, the book Delayed Conversations (about the five Megillot) was considered sacred. This was expressed also in that those books were not placed with the rest of the books in the closet, but by themselves, among the silver and gold items we had at home.
A well-known Whisperer, whom many would call for help, was the wife of Fishel "Dem Deines whom they called Sheindel the Whisperer.
Another remedy of this sort was the custom to feed the babies, on Erev Rosh Hashanah, a plant called Worm-Cabbage, which was a sure remedy against stomach worms in children.
Another certified remedy to save the sick, for the most serious and complicated cases, was the addition of a name to the patient: the new names had sort of a hint of life, such as Chaya (life), Chaim [life], Alter (old] and so forth. Many were called, therefore, Moshe-Chaim, Sarah-Chaya, Aharon-Alter, etc. The name change was meant to confuse the Angel of Death. The additional name was introduced in the synagogue.
And it also happened that the same person would fall ill again; in this case, they changed his additional name. This happened, for example, to Aharon Albert. When he fell ill for the first time was named Aharon-Chaim; on the second time Aharon-Alter.
To this list of proven cures, we should add the custom of giving charity to the poor in the form of money or assorted food items, so that, they believed, it would benefit the patient.
And it was also done that instead of giving ahead of time, to make sure the cure, they would pledge a contribution, so that when the patient recovered and returned to full health, only then they would contribute to the synagogue, the social institutions, or the poor, with money and money-equivalents.
The pledge was usually made to the synagogue as those who serve the sacred, or other religious servants.
In the most serious cases, they turned to G-d, not through intermediaries, but directly, of sorts, at the synagogue: when the Aron Kodesh was open and the Torah books spread in front of it, they would pray a prayer in front of G-d in Heaven to provide full recovery to the patient and save him from death.
In the worst, extreme cases, they took a different proven and accepted method. Family members of the patient would run to the cemetery to lay on the graves of their family and loved ones an activity known by the name of tearing graves
so that the deceased would intercede in front of the Almighty to save the patient, who was about to die.
The cemetery also served to save the public when an epidemic broke out in the town. In this case, they would marry a couple, poor and destitute, purposely in the cemetery. Many in the town remember well the Spanish Flu epidemic that broke out at the beginning of World War I; then they married at the cemetery the couple Fruma and Yviza, both mentally ill. And all this because of the belief that this compassionate act on the one hand and the supplication of the dead people, on the other hand, would help to rescue the residents of the town from the epidemic that befell them without pity.
The came to Yedinitz in 1920 and visited Palestine in the 1930s. Yisrael Shott died in Bucharest in 1947, and Dr. Rosa Shott died in Solka in 1953
Translated from the Yiddish by Asher Szmulewicz
Article from the newspaper “Our Time” (Unzer Zeit) dated July 5th, 1929, Yedinitz
On Wednesday 11 Sivan 5689 R’ Shmuel Loibman passed away in Yedinitz. The deceased man, a rich and important person donated to our town almost all his estate. He bequeathed his beautiful yard, with a large garden, to erect a hospital. This was worth two million lei. Moreover, during his life, he built a modern style synagogue and donated it to the worshipers. On the day of his burial, his inheritors which were local institutions, each received two hundred and five thousand lei according to his will. The deceased man also gave a significant amount of money to build the hospital. The custodian of the hospital was his wife and two inheriting nieces, on the condition that when there will be a community in Yedinitz, the hospital should be transferred to the community.
(yod aleph SivanTav Resh Peh Tet - June 19th, 1929)
[Pages 235-236 Yiddish and Hebrew]
by Mordechai Reicher
Translated from Yiddish by Asher Szmulewicz
On July 15, 1900, a very interesting article was published about Yedinitz in the most important Jewish Russian magazine in these times Voskod, published in the capital city Petersburg, sometimes as a monthly, a weekly, or a bi-weekly. A mention in double quotes Bessar at the end of the article shows, it seems, that it was copied from the newspaper Bessarbatz (Kishinev), which did not excel in its sympathy for Jews. This newspaper was later the mouthpiece of the blood-thirsty infamous enemy Kroushevan who was later indicted for inciting the Kishinev pogrom in 1903. The Jewish Zionist magazine felt right about copying the objective information it contained about the Cultural war between the Dark Chasidim and the Enlightened and educated in an isolated village in the far away Bessarabia.
The article informs that last year, 1899, the korobka contributed an allowance of 1500 rubles to establish a modern Jewish religious school for the poor people. However, the pious (the orthodox) opposed the initiative and sent heinous letters (Pashkevilim) and complaints to the authorities. However, it was a complete failure. The Chasidim had their own Jewish religious school that looked like a Cheder from the fifties of the nineteenth century, which they closed to put pressure on the poor parents and hoped for a compromise. However, the Local Jewish Youth with the assistance of good people opened a modern private school. Contributions were collected, an appropriate house was rented, equipment was bought, and a Hebrew teacher was hired. Volunteers taught Russian, calculus, calligraphy, and other school subjects. The school taught 40 pupils. The article mentions a few sponsors: M. Bronstein, A. Bronstein, S. Pradis, and S. Kormanski.
By the way, these facts were confirmed in an article posted in HaTsfira on November 20, 1900, which is mentioned in another chapter of this book.
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