« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

[Page 301]

Social Institutions


The Hospital

by M.Y. F–M

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

It can be seen from the treatise in this book by the historian, Dr. M. Hendl, that the Biala Jewish population already possessed its own hospital in 1742. Consequently it is notable that at the beginning of the 20th century Jewish Biala did not have such an institution. The reason can be seen to be in that in case of an illness, well–to–do Jews could obtain treatment without a hospital, particularly at that time when the word “hospital” in general was intimidating to the psychology of the Jews. Only the poor strata was directed to hospital treatment, which despite their complete superstitious fear of a hospital, was the only recourse they had when one of them became ill. It appears that for the poor class, the city gabbaim [sextons] of the 18th century were more concerned than in the later years and who knows if Biala, in general, would have obtained such an important social–medical institution if not for the accident of death of a rich woman in the city


Jewish Hospital Building


which we already have mentioned in the treatise, “Jewish Biala in the Past Generations.”

The building of the hospital, according to the building plan of the Biala architect, Wolodka, began in 1909. The masons were the municipal artisans, Alter Wajnberg and Hershl Nowomiast.

Yudl Szwarc, Dr. Gustaw Zita, Moshe Kawa, Yitzhak Piczic, Wolf Goldsztajn, Moshe Lebnberg, Kalman Szajnberg, Zalman Zak, the lawyer Kalman Hartglas and Chaim Yoska Kasztenbaum were members of the hospital building committee. The driving force of the committee was Yudl Szwarc.

The construction ended in 1911 and a solemn ceremonial opening took place the same year, to which the governor of Siedlce came.

The erection of the hospital cost approximately 20,000 rubles, which was received from Shmuel Piczic, after the death of his wife, Ita Brukha – 6,000 rubles; 4,500 rubles, the inheritance from Shmuel from Venice after the death of his father; Hersh Ber Raaba; and the so–called “girl” from the courtyard, Helene Kagan, donated 2,000 rubles. The rest was collected among the population.

Yudl Szwarc, Yitzhak Piczic, Dr. Zita and the dozores [members of the communal council] were hospital trustees until the First World War.

Dr. Zita led the hospital, which had 10 beds at the start of its activity. Of the personnel who were active there, I remember the nurse Ayzyk Finklsztajn, the guard Alter Czeszler and the cook Dwoyra Finklsztajn.

The hospital was supported by a hospital tax, by payments by the sick and from donations that would be collected among the population.

During the First World War, the hospital was requisitioned by the German occupying regime for military purposes.

[Page 302]

Flower sale in aid of the Jewish Hospital


After the First World War the hospital income came from the following sources: subsidy from the kehile [organized Jewish community], grants from the city hall, payments by the sick and support from the landsleit [people from the same town] abroad, mainly in North America.

The hospital also had income from Tila's house at the market and from several shops in Yatka Street, which the woman mentioned [Tila] transferred to the hospital.

Active in the hospital in the era between the two world wars were the following doctors and other co–workers: Dr. Joakhim Zater, Dr. Antoni Gelbard, Dr. Sz Tenenbaum (Siedlce), Dr. Butshe Finklsztajn (from Biala), Dr. Pinkhas Erdman (Bialystok) and Dr. Goldenberg. Nurses: Wolf Szor, Dovid Przewuzman, Musawicz (the youngest son of the Kobriner feldsher [barber–surgeon]). Nurses [female]: Miss D. Biderman (Ahrela Slowaticzer's daughter) and Chava Rogalski. Midwives: Chava Manhajmer–Szor, Sonya Wajnsztajn–Kelmanzon and Sura Kramarcz.


Flower sale in aid of the Jewish Hospital

[Page 303]

Appeal from the Hospital Committee to the Biala landsleit [people from the same town] in New York [requesting financial assistance


The feldsher [barber–surgeon] at the hospital during the last days of the Second World War was Berish Wajsman (from Lomaz [Łomazy]).

The two Jewish hospital doctors up to the Second World War

From the left: Dr. Erdman, Borukh Winograd (kehile [community] secretary), Dr. Goldenberg, Zalman Liverant (hospital secretary)


Administrators of the hospital after the First World War were Benyamin Kliger, and after him, Zalman Liverant, who held this office until the day that he was shot by the Germans.


Hospital Committee [in Biala] in 1935

Sitting from the right: Benyamin Kliger, Moshe Hava, Dr. A. Gelbard;
Standing: Zalman Liverant, Khanine Kaszemacher and Borukh Winograd


The hospital was closed often during this era and this was during the long months without monetary means because the kehile never paid the designated subsidies on time and also never in the amount that they had designated.

In 1939, during the Second World War, the Red Army requisitioned the hospital and during their evacuation from the city they took parts of the hospital equipment, such as medical apparatus and instruments, with them.

During the German occupation in the Second World War, the hospital was always filled with the sick. Dr. Gelbfisz, who had been specially brought from the Warsaw ghetto, led the hospital. Dr. Hochman (a refugee from Germany), Dr. Rubensztajn (came from Warsaw) and the feldsher Berish Wajsman worked with him.


Additional Facts:

According to what Yakov Goldsztajn [wrote] in Bialer Vokhnblat [Biala Weekly Newspaper], number 10 of the 6th of March 1936, the inspiration for building the Jewish Hospital in the city was the Biala Rabbi Yitzhak–Yakov Rabinowicz. He spoke about this with Yudl Szwarc several times.

In the same issue of the Bialer Vokhnblat, Yakov Goldsztajn says that a certain Mrs. Minc

[Page 304]

had left a bequest for the building of a Jewish hospital in Biala. The bequest, lying in a bank over the course of 100 years, had grown to 500 rubles.

Reb Moshe Kohan left several thousand rubles in his will for the building of a Jewish hospital in Biala (P. Gold, New York).

In 1932 a clinic was opened at the hospital for the poor population (Podlasker Lebn, number 15/19 of the 23rd of September 1932).

In the preliminary budget of the kehile [organized Jewish community] for the year 1933, the subsidy for the hospital was anticipated to be a sum of 19,000 zlotes (Podlasker Lebn, number 5/70 of the 3rd of February 1933).

The subsidy of the Jewish hospital in the preliminary budget of the city hall was anticipated in the amount of 3,000 zlotes (Podlasker Lebn, number 4/69 of the 27th of January 1933).

The payments by the sick, who were treated in the hospital in the years 1930/1, added up to seven to eight thousand zlotes a year. (Podlasker Lebn, number 42/107 of the 27th of October 1933).

A subsidy for the hospital in the amount of 12,000 zlotes was anticipated in the kehile preliminary budget in 1934 (Podlasker Lebn, number 5/121 of the 2nd of February 1934).

The hospital budget in the year 1934 was established as 20,000 zlotes. Eight thousand zlotes was expected from the sick, subsidies and donations. The kehile was supposed to cover the remaining 12,000 zlotes (Podlasker Lebn, number 1/117 of the 5th of January 1934).

In the Health Service for the Welfare of the Population

Received from Alter Wajnberg and Asher Hoper

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

Let the names be remembered here of those who over the course of the last 70-80 years of Jewish life in Biala carried medical help to the Jewish population.



Until the First World War: Dr. Brudniak, Dr. Davidzon (from Lithuania; a former yeshiva [religious secondary school] student. Coming from a patient, he fell on the stairs and died), Dr. Gustav Zito (from Warsaw; came to Biala from Łomazy). Between both wars [the First and Second World Wars]: Dr. Yaakhim Zatler, Dr. Przigoda (from Warsaw; was in Biala for a time as a military doctor in the Polish Army in 1920), Dr. Antoni Gelbard (from Warsaw), Dr. Shlomo Tenenbaum (from Siedlice), Dr. Butshe Finkelsztajn (fellow townsman; later active as a doctor in Byten), Dr. Pinkhas Erdman (from Bialystok), Dr. Goldenberg, Dr. Sznajer (eye specialist; brought by the health insurance fund). During the Second World War: Dr. Bergman (probably from Katowice), Dr. Hochman (refugee from Germany), Dr. Rubinsztajn and Dr. Gelbfisz (from Warsaw).



Until the First World War: Bruk (Motl Minc's son-in-law) and Bielinke. Zilberberg (from Brisk; from the First World War until the expulsion in September 1942). In various eras between the two World Wars: L. Winikamien, Mrs. Gelbard, Celniker (from Siedlice), and Mrs. Labendrzowa (from Radzyn – until the expulsion in September 1942).



Actually these were feldshers [unlicensed medical practitioners], but they were called by the name royfe [a doctor, usually without medical training] in the city and we will not change this folksy name.

Velvl Zito (called Velve Doctor, died in 1897 on the day of the bris [ritual circumcision] of his great-grandson, Velvl Eidltuch, who was given the name after his great grandfather), wrote prescriptions, which would be accepted by the apothecary. The Jew was an active member of the Khevra-Kadishe [burial society] his entire life. Chaim Royfe (father-in-law of the barber Rozmarin). Both were active until the First World War. During the First World War, Yosef Itshe Asz was occupied with healing the sick.



Until the First World War: Meir Mikhl Laufman and Fridlender (called Warszawer [Warsaw] Feldsher). Chaim Musawicz (called Kobriner [from Kobrin] – from before the First World War until the expulsion in June 1942), Solman (called Warszawer Feldsher – came from Warsaw during the First World War and returned in the 1920s), Berish Wajsman (from Łomazy – arrived several years before the Second World War – until the expulsion in September 1941).



Until the First World War: Ides Royzner and Ruchl Salamon (received eternal exile in for political activity in Penza– Russia). Between both wars: Chawa Manhajmer-Szor, Sonya Wajnsztajn-Kelmanzon and Sura Kramarcz.

[Page 305]


by Moshe Braverman - Tel Aviv

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

During Khol haMoed [intervening days of] Passover 1911, 10 to 15 people from the Zionist organization came to together to consult about creating a location in which Zionist activities could be carried out. According to the then conditions it still was possible to carry out such political and communal activity under the shield of a philanthropic society for which one could receive a legalization from the Russian regime. Therefore, at that deliberation it was decided to found such an institution in the city under the name Achiezer [a welfare organization], which would distribute medical help to the poor population and, simultaneously, make use of their premises for Zionist activity.

According to the laws such an institution had to have a minimum of 10 members with an assessment of three rubles from each [member]. Obviously, as there were 10 members, the request for legalization was accepted by the gubernia [province].

Permission from the gubernia arrived before Shavous [the holiday commemorating the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people] and immediately after Shavous the founding management committee was called together. The creation of such a modern institution for the poor sick evoked great interest among the Jewish population and several hundred people came to the gathering and enrolled as members, with a minimum payment of one ruble a year. There also were those who committed themselves to paying 10 rubles a year and even more. The managing committee obviously was led in line with the strength of the Zionist organization. According to the agenda, it was necessary to elect a temporary managing committee, council and audit committee. However, in order for it to be possible for the institution to lead the Zionist work, provisions were made that more Zionists would be chosen for the organizational leadership of Achiezer. However, in order to mask such a step, the managing committee also elected several who were not so well known in the city for their Zionist activity. Moshe Kawe, Moshe Rubensztajn, Yakov Finkelsztajn and Avraham Finkelsztajn were elected then to the first managing committee.

At first, Achiezer was located in Viness. Later, a place with four rooms was rented in Dovtshe Pesl's [house]. The first room served as a waiting room; the second for the managing committee and the secretary who would welcome the people; the third room served as a reception room for the sick who were examined there by the doctors; the medication, medical instruments and tools for the sick were found in the fourth room.

They contacted all of the doctors in the city, Jewish and Christian, who agreed to distribute medical help to the poor without any payment. Dr. Gustav Zito would come twice a week, Monday and Thursday, from four to six o'clock in the afternoon and every time he would take eight to 10 sick people. Dr. Szilingowski, Dr. Florinski and Dr. Wajczechowski would take three or four sick people every day at their homes, based on a note that each sick person received from Achiezer.

The distribution of medicines for the poor population was arranged in the following manner: Achiezer maintained contact for a time with the apothecary Ernkranc and later with the apothecary Ostrowski. Those interested would turn to the apothecary with a prescription from the doctor, on which had been recorded a price, not knowing for whom the medicine was designated. Achiezer placed a stamp on the prescription and signed it. The sick people paid Achiezer 50 percent of the price and received the prescription from the apothecary without cost. The very poor would receive a signed prescription without cost. At the end of every month the apothecary would send all of the prescriptions with the invoices [to Achiezer]. Five hundred to 1,000 prescriptions would be collected over the course of a month at a cost of several hundred rubles. Achiezer would receive a discount of 40 to 50 percent from the apothecary. The full price was paid for imported medicines. Achiezer, wanting to make sure of the accuracy of the price for the prescriptions, would often send the prescriptions with their prices to the Brisk Bikor-Khoylem [society to help the sick poor] Hospital, where a large apothecary with a Jewish pharmacist would verify the prices. For every kopeke recorded as more expensive than the official price, the apothecary had to pay a fine of 10 rubles.

Food provisions such as milk, egg, butter, meat and other articles of food for the sick poor also were distributed according to a certificate from a doctor. Achiezer notes for all of the products were willingly accepted in every shop. Each milk seller and merchant who would receive such a note would receive payment according to street prices. The sick were not forced to take the products from a designated place; they had a free choice to take them wherever it was convenient for them.

[Page 306]

The arrangements for receiving such food coupons were: a relative or an acquaintance of the sick person would give a doctor's certificate to Achiezer for the necessary products for the sick poor as was designated for as long as such provisions were needed. Meetings of the managing committee would take place several times a week at which the requests for product distribution would be considered and arranged.

The activity of Achiezer expanded considerably. One of the most important medical aids was to send members to sit at each sick person's bed every night.

Achiezer numbered from 1,500 to 2,000 members, with membership dues that reached several thousand rubles a year.

Tools and various medical instruments that were needed by the sick, such as water bottles, bladders for ice, inhalation tools, thermometers, supports, rubber pillows and so on, were given for a time. Such tools were given not only to poor patients but also to others, even the rich strata, because such tools were also unavailable in the rich houses. Achiezer helped all classes of the population in this manner.

The budget for Achiezer was completely and exclusively used for medical help. Achiezer had no other expenses, except for rent. Everyone who helped Achiezer in its activity did so without any payment.

The institution was very well received in the city, even among the Christian population. There was a case when the then district official, Tufikin, and the mayor, Sologub. came on a visit to Achiezer and saw, according to the book of minutes, how the managing committee designated the food distribution for each patient (the books were written in the Russian language). They could not keep from expressing their happiness with the arrangements. Yet they found one transgression. A Hebrew stamp, Achiezer, was on the table. This was forbidden according to the laws of that time. Moshe Kawe immediately on the spot took a small knife out of his pocket and cut the stamp in front of them and they were satisfied.

Achiezer founded a matzo bakery for Passover for the poor population in Biala, where as in other shtetlekh [towns] in Poland, private matzo bakeries existed several weeks before Passover, which would hire girls and women from the poor population for the work. They would be paid from three to four gildn daily. The work was not easy, both rolling and kneading. The tempo of the work had to be very fast and, in addition they stood on their feet from six in the morning to late in the evening hours in the most difficult working conditions. They would use from 15 to 19 pood (a pood is about 16 kilograms [about 36 pounds]) of flour a day, and with only 15-20 female workers. In addition the heat of the baking ovens had an effect on the workers, so that after several days of such intense work their hands and feet would be swollen. The price of the baked matzo varied. In the morning hours when the strength [of the workers] was fresh, they baked the matzos for the rich classes who would pay a higher price than for [the matzo] that was baked later in the day or at night when the male and female helpers already were completely exhausted. It should be understood that the matzos from the evening hours were not as beautiful, as thin as in the morning hours.

At the initiative of Achiezer, a mixed committee of women and men was created who set as their task to bake matzo for the poor population. Taking part in the committee were Rywka Fiszer, Chana Miriam Minc, the writer of these lines and so on. We rented a certain place where not just 20 helpers could be located, but from 40 to 50, and these volunteers were from the more well-to-do population. Women from all strata were invited to work as volunteers. Everyone had to work only a few hours a day when it was convenient for them. Every few hours the work force changed. They came dressed in the prettiest and best clothing. Fresh and cheerful, every woman and man in his place, without any coercion or pressure from anyone and they worked. There was no question of early or late, of the “first” or the “second” oven. It was considered an honor to contribute a few hours a day to the charitable matzo bakery for the poor population. It was one of the most beautiful communal events in Biala. Instead of the poor working as usual for the rich, here the rich worked for the poor. The most difficult and the most responsible work at the baking oven was carried out by Ayzyk Finkelsztajn without any payment.

In addition to baking matzo for the poor population without any payment, they also distributed flour to bake matzo and other holiday food products to the poor.

Thus, this charitable work extended for several years. The outbreak of the First World War in 1914 brought a pause [in the work of Achiezer]. The income of

[Page 307]

Achiezer shrank and not having the necessary medical help on the part of doctors, who were either mobilized or evacuated to deep Russia, Achiezer closed. The premises were requisitioned; the remaining items were moved to a room in Yisroel Finkelsztajn's [house].

At the beginning of 1915, when the writer of these lines was freed from the military, he and Moshe Kawe began to revive the activities of Achiezer. In one room we carried out the work on a much smaller scale, which continued until the Germans occupied the city.

During the German occupation, Achiezer was led by new strength such as Leibish Sauerimper, Yizroel Finkelsztajn, Chaim Rames, Moshe Melekh Ziberberg, Yisroel Elihu Szapira, Yoal Szapira. The Biala rabbi's son, Dovid Zak, stood at the head.

They rented new premises at Grabanower Street at the corner of Prosta Street in the house of the shoemaker Shraga.

Achiezer succeeded in drawing German military doctors, such as Dr. Al Meler (a Jew) and Dr. Barteles (a Christian), who would distribute medical help to the Jewish population, visiting the Jewish sick in their houses. They would also come several times a week to the premises of Achiezer and there accept patients. Other German military doctors would accept Jewish patients who would be sent to their homes. This was all done without payment. Naturally, this activity was not consistent because of the conditions of war. The military doctors would not remain on the spot for long.

At the beginning of 1916 the kehile house at Brisker Street 6 was successfully taken over and Achiezer was set up there. The premises were beautiful and appropriate.

Dr. Barteles put us in contact with the German headquarters where, thanks to his efforts, we received permission to open a Jewish apothecary, despite the fact that Major Funk, an outspoken enemy of the Jews, was then the head of the command. However, for certain reasons, the apothecary was not erected.

Dr. Barteles later put us in contact with the German civilian managing committee in the city, which was led by the chief, Paputin. Thanks to him Biala families were successful in contacting their relatives in America, from whom they had not received any news since the Germans entered Biala. An exchange of letters began in the German language, which was written at the Achiezer premises. The civilian managing committee would send the letters to America and other countries. There also was success in arranging the departure from Biala of two groups of women to their husbands and parents to their children in America. Among others then, Beiba Beker went to his son, Abela Maler's daughter-in-law to her husband, Velvele, and others.

An entirely different chapter during the time of the German occupation in Biala was providing the Jewish population with matzos for Passover. During the German occupation, baked goods made from flour from the flour mill were forbidden for the civilian population. The Jewish population received permission for a greater quantity of flour for matzos before Passover. A committee was founded at Achiezer with the following composition: Moshe Lebenberg, Fishl Finkelsztajn, Yisroel Elihu Szapira, Hershl Shachor, Moshe Braverman (secretary) and so on, who were involved with distributing the flour. The flour was distributed to the Jewish population based on [ration] cards and every family was taxed by the committee with a certain payment for maot-khitim [assistance to the poor for Passover] for the poor part of the population. A lot of money flowed in, which made possible the distribution of not only matzos for Passover, but also potatoes, meat, wine and so on.

The matzo distribution and the maot-khitim distribution lasted for the entire time of the [First World] war.

The activity of Achiezer continued for a time after the rise of the Polish state, but the beautiful institution ceased to exist after several years. The newly arisen Jewish kehile moved into the Achiezer premises and the place was too crowded for the two institutions. After the end of the war, many active communal workers left Biala and, as it lacked a group of communal workers who would devotedly dedicate themselves to the institution, Achiezer failed. The medical instruments remained in the premises of the kehile, which would lend them to the population against a pledge, but there was no one interested in administrating this and the instruments actually were pillaged.

[Page 308]

The Children's Home

Submitted by Chana Rywka Rapaport–Rubinsztajn

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

The children's home in the city was founded in 1916 during the German occupation in the First World War. At the time of the Yavne [religious Zionist] School, this was a further link in the glorious chain of activity by the Zionist organization in Biala.

We know the main reason the Zionist elements in the city were moved to make an effort to erect a magnificent institution in the city from their study about the Yavne school system. However, in addition to that reason, there also was the necessity to found such an institution for other reasons such as the then great need that existed in the families where the men were in America or mobilized in the Russian Army. These families truly remained without means of living and the children were found in a neglected state. It was necessary to tear these children from this desolation, and this blessed Zionist institution from the Zionist circles that, in fact, had in mind another purpose, but also showed that they not only cared about the soul of the child, but also for its body. Biala, before as well as later, never possessed such an exemplary social institution.

The children's home was located in a three–room apartment in Moshe Lebenberg's house on Brisker Street.

The institution was led by a women's committee, which consisted of the women, Chana Miriam Minc, Rywka Fiszer, Chana Rywka Rubinsztajn, Rayzl Zinger (these women was the initiators and founders of this institution), Sura Barlas (refugee from Brisk), Glika Lichtenbaum, Ita Laszczewski, Waksin (refugee from Brisk) and the sisters, Helman, Caruk, Morgensztern. Chana Miriam Minc was the chairwoman of the committee, the vice–chairwomen was Rywka Rubinsztajn, Sura Barlas was the secretary.


Committee of the Children's Home
The Leadership of the Children's Home

Sitting from the left: Rywka Fiszer, Chana Miriam Minc, Chana Rywka Rubinsztajn, Rayzl Zinger;
Standing: Yona Sztajnman, Yehosha Fiszer, Moshe Rubinsztajn and Yakov Sztajnman


The committee set as its task taking the children from the desolate and poor families, as well as orphans. They fed, clothed, provided education and even took care of them in the after–school hours.


Children's Home – The Children with the Women's Committee

The Women's Committee from the right: Miriam Helman, Waksin (Brisk), Liba Helman, Chana Rywka Rubinsztajn, name unknown, Chana Miriam Minc, Rywka Fiszer, Glika Lichtenbaum, Sura Barlas, Caruk, Morgensztern, Rayzl Zinger, Ita Laszczewski.

[Page 309]

There were 60 children in the institution; more could not be taken in because of budget difficulties.

The women who took an active part in the activities of the children's home righteously, capably carried on their work without any reward. Only the women who ran the kitchen were paid.

The woman on duty would come at eight o'clock in the morning and give the cooks instructions, what and how to prepare food for the children. Miss Richter ran the kitchen.

All of the children at the children's home were students in the local Yavne School. After finishing the instruction at the school, they would march to the children's home, standing in rows, where they would eat lunch. After eating, the students would begin to do their homework under the supervision of the women on duty. After finishing their homework, the small children would amuse themselves and the older children would be engaged in various conversations. The women on duty would wash the children, clean and wash their heads. After eating the evening meal, the children would go home to their families. There were cases in which arrangements were made for the orphans to go to families to sleep.

The children of the children's home were dressed in special uniforms that the women's committee had arranged to be made for them out of cloth they received from the government.

The children's home was closed on Shabbos [Sabbath) and holidays. The children would be given food products to take home for holidays.

Every Passover, a traditional Seder [traditional Passover ritual meal] would be arranged on the second Seder night at the children's home for the children. The Seder would be led by the teacher, Yakov Sztajnman. No outside guests were allowed to attend the Seder. The expenses connected with preparing the Seder would be covered by the Women's Committee from their own pockets.

At the beginning, the budget of the institution was covered by the Women's Committee itself, which collected a certain assessment among its own members and also would receive some support from sympathizers. Later on, the civilian managing committee covered a large part of the expenses and also gave food products. Twice a month the movie tickets for the movie presentations were given to the Women's Committee by the civilian managing committee, which would sell the tickets among the Jewish population and thus receive a source of money. Once a month they carried out a flower sale and from time to time the Zionist dramatic circle at the community center arranged a presentation for the benefit of the children's home. From this income the Women's Committee was able to pay tuition money for the children to the Yavne School.

Links with the civilian managing committee succeeded thanks to the sister of Field Marshal, Pan [Mister] Lizingen, who was active in Biala as a nurse. This nurse would over came to the laundry that was run by Mrs. Chana Miriam Minc and a close acquaintance developed between the two.

The military field rabbi, Dr. Tencer, also would support the children's home and, in addition, tried to reduce the influence of the Zionist circles, under whose influence the institution was found.

With the rise of the Polish state, the Women's Committee began to come up against budget difficulties because they would not receive any subsidies or support from the regime. Therefore, they would lead the children to the so–called children's kitchen after the lessons. In this kitchen, which was supported thanks to products received from America, the children would eat lunch and afterward they would march to the children's home. There they would do their homework and spend the time until night when they would go home.

The children's home was liquidated in 1919. The reasons were: firstly, budget difficulties and, secondly, many children emigrated to America with their families as soon as the gates to America opened after the First World War.

Throughout the entire era of the existence of the children's home, there was no particular incident recorded nor any unpleasant cases with the children. There were never any disputes among the children themselves or between the children and the Women's Committee. The children did not lag behind all of the other children in their studies and a number of them even excelled in learning.

The relationship between the children and the Women's Committee was sincere and warm. The children were strongly bound to the women of the committee, who so maternally made an effort with the children. Years later this connection strongly came to expression in many cases.

[Page 310]


by Baruch Vinograd

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

The founding of the TOZ [Towarzystwo Ochrony Zdrowia Ludności żydowskiej – Society to Protect the Health of the Jews] Society in Biala, whose task was to protect the health of the Jewish population, is dated as the year 1925. The director of the Jewish hospital, Dr. A. Gelbard and the kehile [organized Jewish community] secretary, B. Winograd from Biala, were invited to the county conference of the TOZ, which took place that year in Lublin. During the conference in Lublin the Biala representatives were asked to found a division of the TOZ in Biala.

The initiators, Dr. A. Gelbard and B. Winograd, spoke about the important task of TOZ and justified the need to create a division of TOZ at the founding meeting at the kehile premises, which was called then, with the participation of all strata of the Jewish population in the city. The assembled showed great understanding of the matter and everyone present declared themselves members on the spot. Elected to the managing committee were Dr. A. Gelbard – chairman, Mrs. Baltsha Piczic – vice chairwoman, A. Robak – treasurer, Borukh Winograd – secretary, managing committee members Mrs. Bayla Wiznfeld, Mrs. Manya Yungerman, Mrs. Hela Orlanski, Mrs. Lyuba Szwarc, Mrs. Fanya Fridberg, Dr. Butsha and Mikhasz Hoper.

The managing committee worked out a preliminary budget and energetically went to work. The income consisted of subsidies from the kehile and city hall, member dues, public collections and entertainments, but mainly from the subsidy by the TOZ central committee in Warsaw.

The actual activity of the TOZ began in 1926 and continued until the outbreak of the war in 1939.

Each year of its existence, the TOZ would arrange summer camps for poor, weak children during the two to three summer months. The TOZ rented the large area in the rabbi's courtyard at Mezriczher Street for this purpose. Appropriate buildings were erected there with tables and chairs for 100–120 children as well as a kitchen and other sanitary conveniences. The entire area was fenced in and completely planned. Clean sand was brought in for a certain area for sunbaths for the children. A large number of trees were planted so the children would have somewhere to hide from the sun. Every session, which numbered 100–120 children, lasted only one month. The children would receive good nutrition four times a day. Almost all of the children would significantly increase in their weight, tanned in the sun and were refreshed. The payment was minimal and 50–60 percent of the children were taken without any payment. The summer camps were active from eight in the morning until four in the afternoon. Over the course of a summer, 250–300 children would make use of the camps. The children would be under appropriate pedagogical and medical supervision during their entire time there.

According to the allocation of the TOZ central, every summer a certain number of sick children would be sent out of Biala to Czechoczinek, Otwock and so on.


The TOZ Summer Camp in Biala


A free clinic for all school children, for the students of the Talmud Torah [free religious school for poor children], khederim [religious primary schools] and the yeshiva [religious secondary school] was opened by the TOZ at the Jewish hospital. Free medications were given out there. Thanks to the frequent medical examinations for the children and the visits of a doctor and a hygienist to the Talmud Torah, yeshiva and khederim, the main illnesses were eliminated and cured, particularly mange (parasitic skin disease). In necessary cases the sick children were sent to the x–ray station at the Warsaw TOZ central at the expense of the Biala TOZ. During the winter months many hundreds of children were irradiated with sun lamps at the clinic at no expense.

According to an agreement with the TOZ managing committee, the dentist, Yoal Zilberberg, accepted all of the children who were under the supervision of the TOZ and gave them dental help, such as healing and removing sick teeth

[Page 311]

as well as filling teeth completely without cost. The TOZ would provide the dental medications.

One of the main tasks of TOZ was to prevent illnesses. This was successful to a great extent, thanks to frequent visits to the Talmud–Torah, yeshiva and khederim, giving hygienic instruction and directions. Over the course of the winter months, rolls and a glass of milk, without any payment, were distributed to many children every day. Large quantities of cod liver oil for all of the children in the city, without exception, also were distributed during the winter months. All poor children would have their hair cut systematically and they received baths without cost in the military bath establishment paid for by TOZ.

Every month TOZ would distribute pieces of soap in significant quantity to the poor Jewish population to wash clothes. Public lectures on popular hygiene themes would be organized. Medical journals, such as Folksgezunt [People's Health] and so on, were distributed, as well as leaflets with hygienic instructions and information.

The TOZ was very popular and beloved among the Jewish population in the city. The income undertakings of the TOZ always had the best results. The Purim balls especially were popular, from which each year the income would be designated exclusively for the summer camps. This mass participation of the most widespread strata of the Jewish population in the TOZ enterprises and the sympathy and interest shown served as a stimulus for the TOZ managing committee to continue the responsible and important work on behalf on the Biala Jewish population.

The TOZ office was located in the Jewish hospital. The administrative expenses of TOZ, in general, were minimal, about 10 percent of the general budget, and this gave the managing committee the ability to use all of the income only for constructive medical and professional purposes. It is worthwhile to mention that Dr. A. Gelbard, during the entire course of his activity as chairman of the TOZ managing committee from 1925 to 1937, that is until his move to Warsaw, carried out all of the medical exams of the children, gave lectures on hygiene and medical themes entirely without any material compensation. In addition, he always showed an understanding and warm relationship to the TOZ activity. A new managing committee would be elected at the annual general meeting. Of the members of the managing committee [those] particularly active there [who] excelled were: the vice chairwoman Boltsha Piczic, Mrs. Fanya Fridberg and Mikhash Hofer. In the course of the existence of the TOZ, the women, Luyba Wajntraub–Tuchsznajder, Bela Jakubowicz, Toybele Rubinsztajn and so on worked with the pedagogic and educational personnel of the summer camp. The teacher of singing and sport was the talented member of Shomir HaTzair [Young Guard – Socialist–Zionists], Shloymke (Shloma) Hochberg, who showed great dedication and love for the children, teaching them gymnastics exercises and songs in Hebrew, Yiddish and Polish every day.

At the end of each season at the summer camps, with the participation of the children and their parents, representatives of the state, kehile and other communal institutions and invited guests, the children would appear with song, recitations and sports exercises, which were arranged each time in a very joyful manner.

It is also worth remembering Dovid Przewuzman, the medic and hygienist at the TOZ, who showed great devotion and zeal with minimal reward. The main cook at the TOZ summer camp in Biala over the course of its activity was Sura Breyna Liberman, who was a [capable person] and was never late in preparing the tasty and nutritious food for the children.

The TOZ also was popular among the Christian population in the city. So the subsidies of the TOZ, although very modest, were always supported by the Christian councilmen of all political views at the city hall. It also was characteristic that even the anti–Semitic Podliaszak (an Endeke [anti–Semitic Polish National Party] weekly in Biala) at that time (published in 1936) dedicated a special article on its first page to the TOZ, praising its important activity, and particularly the summer camps; emphasizing that the TOZ drew support from all parts of the Biala population.

The activity of the TOZ lasted until the outbreak of the Second World War. Along with the entire Jewish population that was annihilated by the German beasts, the hundreds of Jewish children who the TOZ cared for with so much love and devotion also perished.

The archive of the TOZ along with the medical instruments remained at the Jewish hospital.

Alas, of all of those who worked with the TOZ only two people survived: TOZ secretary Borukh Vinograd (Israel) and Mikhash Hoper (Brazil).

[Page 312]

Activities Report of the TOZ Society

From the 1st of August 1927 to the 31st of March 1933.

1. School infirmary – 6,338 free visits.
2. School infirmary 2,325 prescriptions.
3. Bathed at the expense of TOZ 10, 492 children.
4. Free baths for the jobless 1,380.
5. Haircuts at the expense of TOZ 6,185.
6. Washing 7,097 pieces of underwear for poor children  
7. 1,067 children who on average gained 1.30 kilograms in weight benefitted from the summer camps.  
8. 59 children sent to summer camps: Otwock, Domaczewo, Czechoczinek, Druskenik.  
9. 73 children healed of ringworm.  
10. 285 children free irradiation with quartz lamps.  
11. Distribution of cod liver oil to 327 children.  
12. Distribution of more than 10,000 brochures about hygiene, leaflets, calendars, periodicals and so on.  
13. More than 2,000 young people did gymnastic exercises at the TOZ sports ground.  
Income Zlotes
1. Subsidy from the TOZ central 15,788.–
2. Subsidy from the city hall 5,483.08
2. (there are two number 2s) Subsidy from Seimek 1,000.–
3. Subsidy from the Jewish community 1,380.–
5. (there is no number 4) Subsidy from the sick fund 1,895.–
6. From members dues 3,124.55
7. Grant for undertakings and donations 7,588.62
8. Grant for payments for the summer camps 8,077.90
9. Subsidy for school hygiene 861.15
10. Grant for sun lamp 324.–
11. Grant of various income and loans 220.08
Total 45,742,38
Expenses Zlotes
For summer camps 25,266.09
2. For school hygiene 7,576.80
3. School clinic 3,090.99
4. Sun lamp 689.88
5. Milk, medicine and cod liver oil 1,289.02
6. Hygienic information 1,160.02
7. Physical education 589.87
8. Administrative and office expenses 5,093.79
9. Members dues on hand 553.14
10. Various payments 383.55
Balance on 1st of April 1933 49.23
Total 45,742.38


Report About the Summer Camps from the TOZ Society for 1933

Payments from children 169.– zl.
From the sick fund 105.– zl.
Collected by the aid circle in Podlaskier Lebn 662.– zl.
From other collections 110.50 zl.
Subsidy from the TOZ central 400.– zl.
Total 1,446,50 zl.
Food for the children 1,009.47 zl.
For the location 125.– zl.
Remodeling and administrative payments 101.25 zl.
Management personnel 61.– zl.
Pedagogic personnel 115.– zl.
Various expenditures 51.95 zl.
Total 1,463,27 zl.

The average growth of the children reached 1.10 kilos [2.4 pounds].

Eighty–nine children were accepted completely without cost and the remaining children for a minimal payment, beginning with one zlote monthly.

Chairman: Dr. A. Gelbard
Secretary: B. Winograd
Auditing commission: A. Szwarc, M. Yungerman, A. Lubelczik

(Podlaskier Lebn number 19/84, of the 19th of May 1933 and number 44 of the 10th of November 1933.

[Page 313]

The Moyshev–Skeynim
[The Old Age Home]

by M. Y. F – M

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

A painful problem in the city was the poor and lonely old people. There was no one to be involved with and to care for them. One could meet old people, the majority of whom were sick, lying around homeless at the entrance to the house of prayer, in the woman's gallery and at the hakhnoses orkhim [inn for poor Sabbath and holiday guests].

Various plans were proposed in the columns of the newspaper Podlaskier Lebn [Podlaskier Life] published in the 1920s and among others the idea of erecting a building for a moyshev–skeynim [old age home]. The editorial board of Podlaskier Lebn took upon itself the accomplishment of this plan. But like many plans in our city that were outlined but whose feasibility was not analyzed, this plan also did not have a solid base under it. Instead of turning to the population to create the means to care for the old people, they turned to the population with an appeal to construct a building for an old age home. It was clear that such a plan did not have the least prospect of success.

Not having any other material, the notes from a number of issues of Podlaskier Lebn and Biala Vokhnblat [Biala Weekly Newspaper], which are in our possession, give us a picture of the interest [in an old age home] that existed in the city until the outbreak of the Second World War.

On Sunday, the 12th of December 1926 in the city hall room, a meeting took place that was supposed to consider the question of constructing a Jewish old age home. The assembled declared on the spot [they would contribute] 6,000 zlotes to be paid out over the course of two years. Those artisans in attendance declared a payment in kind, that is, to provide support with the necessary work until the old age home was built. A committee was elected of nine people: Eidl Szwarc, Yitzhak Piczic, Yisroel Kohan, Fishel Finkelstajn, Dr. Antoni Gelbard, Pinkhas Nortman, Moshe Kava, Yitzhak Arges and Yakov Herszberg. Chosen for the audit commission were: Yisroel Goldsztajn, Ayzyk Szajnberg and Dovid Wajsman. The committee had to start carrying out the construction plan immediately. (Podlaskier Lebn, number 4, of the 26th of December 1926).

In the preliminary budget of the city hall for the year 1927/8, a subsidy in the amount of 1,000 zlotes was designated for the old age home. (Podlaskier Lebn, number 13, of the 27th of April 1927).

The old age home received one zlote daily from the city hall for each person. The city hall subsidy anticipated that there would be 20 old people and more than 30 people were supported by the subsidy (Podlaskier Lebn, number 28, of the 25th of November 1932).

The old age home was under the managing committee of the Jewish councilmen's club. The subsidy for the old age home was recorded in the preliminary budget for the year 1933/1934 with a sum of 6,500 zlotes (Podlaskier Lebn, number 4, of the 27th of January 1933).

After the eviction of the old age home they succeeded in receiving a new premises at Leib Akerman's at Sadowa Street (Podlaskier Lebn, number 28, of the 20th of July 1934).

On Tuesday, the 13th of July 1937, in the evening, a meeting took place in the premises of the kehile of people interested in an old age home with the purpose of reorganizing the two existing committees, that is the “men's” and “women's” committees and to transform them into a permanent committee.

A report about the financial condition of the old age home was given at the meeting.

A closing report was given for the period from the 1st of April 1936 to the 1st of April 1937. The balance appears as follows:

Balance on the 1st of May 1936 28.58
Subsidy from city hall 3,222.49
For distributed lunches 642.64
Subsidy from the kehile 183.90
Donations 45.68
Rent for part of the space 50.–
For unpaid debts 328.63
Total 4,501,92
Expenses Zlotes
Food for the old men and women 3,241.13
Salary for the administrator 650.–
Janitor 60.–
Heating and lighting 155.14
Cleaning and laundry 125.75
Water 60.–
Clothing and mending 96.79
Various small expenses 98.96
Balance on the 1st of April 1937 4.15
Total 4,501.92

[Page 314]

A report also was presented from the “club” action, whose income reached nearly 500 zlotes (along with the items and products).


The Moyshev–Skeynim with the committee members

Sitting from the right: Chaim Miodek, Moshe Lebnberg, Vice Mayor Y. Abramowicz, Shmay Kalichsztajn and Avraham Lebnberg. (Near him, the managing committee member Sh. Gornsztajn)


Those gathered decided to attempt to create a society named Moyshev–Skeynim in Biala (in agreement with the certified statute from the government), whose members would be the legal owner of the institution. For this purpose it was decided to dissolve both existing committees and to create one joint committee that would carry out a canvassing action in the shortest time possible for the members of the society in Biala.

The Messers Shmay Kalichsztajn, Meir Orlanski, Yitzhak Berman, Itsl Lewi, Borukh Winograd, Chaim Miodek, Moshe Lebenberg, Moshe Rodzinek, Khanina Kaszemacher joined the new committee.

L. Szwar, Kladnyev, Minc, Wajnztok, Kelmanzon, Sznajdmil were members of the women's committee (Bialer Vokhnblat, number 28, of the 16th of July 1937).

We see how in 1934 there was not even a start of the great plan of 1926 about erecting a building for the old age home. In general, the question of building was not even on the agenda, only simply collecting the minimal means to be able to feed the old people, who came to the institution, which was called old age home.

Thus, the lonely and sick old people in the city struggled for their existence, and Jewish society did not appear to help them. During the German occupation, during the Second World War, the situation of the old people was tragic because then society in general was entirely helpless and dejected.

Women's Aid Committee

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

During the 1920s there was a Women's Aid Committee in the city whose task it was to support impoverished and lonely sick people. The source of income for this committee was member dues, various events and incidental collections.

The committee numbered 250 members and at its head stood the women Baltsha Piczic – chairwoman, Rywka Nowominski – secretary, Yokheved Biderman – treasurer.

Report from the 16th of December 1925 to the 1st of January 1927

Income Zlotes
Remaining in fund to the 16th 70.74
Taken in from the hospital committee of the community 25.–
From family entertainments (weddings, engagements) 133.57
Flower day, the 7th of April 1926 222.12
Performances (Warsaw Troupe of H. Balbirski) 221.36
From various voluntary contributions 59.51
From weekly dues from the members 1,343.10
From the Gemiles–Khesed 20.83
Expenses Zlotes
Products 3 to 4 for 40 people – 430 kilos (challahs, breads and various dry foods) 1,049.85
Sugar for 40 people, 360 kilos 401.70
Wood 30.–
Potatoes 23.90
Prescriptions for 40 people 113.78
Support in cash for 94 people 234.80
300 quarts milk, 12 people 139.25
Various publications (receipts, printing, stamps, pouches, pins and so on 102.95

[Page 315]

A gmiles–khesed kase [interest–free loan fund] existed at the committee, which distributed small interest–free loans to the street and market sellers to be paid back weekly. In order to permit the existence of the fund, the women's committee instituted separate voluntary monthly dues from their members.

The leaders of the gmiles–khesed kase were the women: Baltsha Piczic – chairwoman, F. Lubelczik – secretary and R. Laszczewski – treasurer.

It is difficult to say if the committee existed until the outbreak of the Second World War or if it ceased to exist earlier (the reports were taken from Podlaskier Lebn, number 7, of the 18th of February 1927 and from number 1/2 of the 7th of January 1927).

Report of the Gmiles–Khesed Kase

Volume of business from the 1st of June 1926 to the 1st of January 1927

Fund 2,226.65 2,285.17
124 loans given to 57 people 1,732.– 2.211.–
Printing expense, receipts   15.65
Monthly fees and so on 553.15  
  4,511.82 4,511.82


Balance on the 1st of January 1927

Treasury 58.52  
Loans given (39) 479.–  
Printing expenses 15.65  
Monthly payments   553.17
  553.17 553.17

Other Voluntary Institutions in the City

by M. Y. F – M

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

Beis Lekhem

In about 1885 such an institution [Beis Lekhem – bread for the needy] already was active in the city, whose task was to go to the Jewish houses and collect challahs [Sabbath bread] and bread on Fridays. The collected challahs and breads would be distributed among respectable needy people who were ashamed to go to houses and ask for bread as the bolder poor people would do.

Members of this institution would come disguised to weddings where they would entertain the crowd and collect money for the Beis Lekhem.

The driving force of Beis-Lekhem was Yakov Yitzhak, the carpenter, and he had Moshe Dovid the ropemaker (Szajnbaum) to help him.

During the First World War the Beis-Lekhem ceased its activities.

The institution became active again in the 1930s. The difficult economic situation for the Jewish population called it back to life.

Not having any information about the activity of the Beis-Lekhem during the era mentioned, we will provide the facts that we have found in a number of issues of Podlaskier Lebn.

The flower sale for Beis-Lekhem that took place in the beginning of 1933 brought in 85.47 zlotes (Podlaskier Lebn, number 75/10, of the 10th of March 1933).

Because of an incident between those receiving matzo and the Beis-Lekhem committee, the institution ceased


Flower sale in aid of Beis-Lekhem

Sitting from the right: Avigdor Richter, the Radziner tailor (nickname), Avik Rozenblum, Krugman, Mrs. Laszczewski, Mrs. Sztajngart
Right, standing: Pinkhus Garnsztajn. ( The names of the remaining are unknown.)


[Page 316]

to collect and distribute bread (Podlaskier Lebn, number 29/94 of the 28th of July 1933).

Each week the Beis Lekhem was forced to buy 15 to 20 kilograms of bread to add to the bread collected from the population (Podlaskier Lebn, number 33/98 of the 25th of August 1933).

In 1933 the Beis Lekhem committee consisted of Shimkha Barlas, Zalman Zak, Abush Rozenblum and H. Y. Krugman (Podlaskier Lebn, number 45/110 of the 17th of November 1933).


Hakhnoses Orkhim

Until 1907, the Hakhnoses Orkhim [society to provide beds for guests for Shabbos or holidays] was located in two rented rooms in Shlomole Krajdsztajn's house on Janower Street.

In 1907 a building was erected in the synagogue courtyard for the Hakhnoses Orkhim. The initiator for this was Yosl Wetshik (Gotgrid). The money was collected in the city. The construction was carried out by the bricklayer, Alter Wajnberg.

Emissaries from yeshivus [religious secondary schools] and poor people who would come to the city to collect contributions would spend the night at the Hakhnoses Orkhim.

There was an apartment in the house for the overseer of the Hakhnoses Orkhim and for the apartment, which he received without cost, he had to clean the Hakhnoses Orkhim.

After the First World War, the apartments were taken by Biala residents and the Hakhnoses Orkhim no longer fulfilled the task for which it had been created.


Linas HaTzedak

None of the remaining Bialer remembers its rise. The task of this society [for visiting the sick] was to send two people every night to every sick person in the city to spend time with him and thus help those living with him who would be busy with the sick one all day. The members of the society would pay a kopike weekly on behalf of the institution. On the last day of Passover they would come together to drink wine.

Velvl Mas, the bookseller, led the society at the end of the last century (19th century).

After the First World War, we no longer heard about the existence of this institution.


Ezras Kholim

From the Podlaskier Lebn [we learn] that during the 1930s a society named Ezras Kholim [aid for the sick] existed in the city.

The members of the Ezras Kholim would pay weekly dues in the amount of 10 groshn. The sick poor would receive medical help, such as medical exams from doctors, prescriptions and milk from the Ezras Kholim without cost.

On the 18th of August 1933, the society arranged a concert by Cantor Moshe Kusewicki of Warsaw and thus received significant income. In the summer of 1934 a aid group for Ezras Kholim was inaugurated in Podlaskier Lebn (Podlaskier Lebn, number 42/10, of the 22nd of July 1932 and number 99/24 of the 1st of September 1933).


« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.

JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

  Biała Podlaska, Poland     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page

Yizkor Book Director, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Jason Hallgarten

Copyright © 1999-2024 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 30 Jul 2020 by MGH