Professor Ch. Z. Hirszberg
Professor Ch. Z. Hirszberg, who served as rabbi of the enlightened Jews in Częstochowa at their New Synagogue and as Director of the Academic Institute for Jewish Science and who was among the best teachers at the Hebrew high school, has provided us with an excerpt from his notebook of memoirs on the expulsion of the Jews of Polish citizenship from the borders of Germany and the actions taken by the Jews of our city in favour of these poor deportees. These are his words:
Persecution against Jews in Germany was conducted in accordance with a system that was implemented with precision and rigorousness.
They wished to rid themselves of the Jews of foreign citizenship and, first and foremost, the subjects of Poland and they began with trivialities. They searched and found Jews who had not paid their taxes on time or who had conducted commerce without a license and immediately issued them a deportation order. Within fourteen days, they were required to liquidate their businesses, hand over their apartments and relinquish their lodgings, although there were those among them who had lived in Germany for decades.
Their plight was obviously terrible, for it is impossible to sell anything within a few days, and whoever wished to salvage some of the fruits of his labour the labour of years was forced to take whatever his kindly neighbours were willing to give for their property.
In praise of the Jews of Germany, who had German citizenship, it should be said that they tried with all their might to aid their persecuted brothers and supported them with everything possible. Suddenly, a disaster descended upon thousands of Jews, Polish natives and subjects, who now lived in fear and worry following the few individual cases of deportation. On Friday night, 14th November 1938, a general deportation order was issued and all the Jews without German citizenship their number reached the tens of thousands of souls. Men, women and children were taken to the border point Zbąszyń and expelled to noman'sland, without any possibility whatsoever to proceed into Poland, as the Polish government blocked their path and no other country was willing to take in these refugees.
Częstochowa, which was near the German border, was appalled by the news from the rabbi of Katowice, which reached Pruszycki, the bank manager. It stated that, on Poland's border, freight train full of poor Jews stood and that they are locked inside wagons intended for the transport of cattle and horses, without food and without hope.
An action committee was immediately organised, headed by the writer of these lines, and included Galster, Gerichter, Neufeld, Zvi Szpaltyn and Feliks Szapira.
Our delegation arrived in Katowice and discovered that, next to Beuthen (Bytom), there was a second train full of Jewish refugees and that, all along the border with Poland, such trains stood.
The local authorities announced that they would not allow the wagons to be opened until they received orders to do so from the central authorities in Warsaw. Great efforts were also made by public figures in Warsaw and everyone waited longingly for an affirmative order.
Finally, glad tidings came, giving permission for these wretched ones to enter Poland.
It is impossible to describe what happened there, when the wagons were opened and men, women and children burst out, some of them with no clothes except for night pyjamas and some in black suits, who were caught in entertainment parlours, where they played in the orchestras, or who had come there for enjoyment. It was a jumble of people from different circles, who were mercilessly taken from their homes and beds and driven to the freight trains, without food or drink. They separated husbands from their wives and children and, among them, also infants from their parents.
After the members of our delegation were able to calm these wretched ones, they took upon themselves the maintenance of the six hundred souls who had already registered and transferred them to public institutions, in which beds and warm food had been prepared beforehand.
The following day, the question of and what next? presented itself. There was a concern which also came to pass that, tomorrow, a new transport would arrive. We therefore decided to immediately move the people to Częstochowa, in order to house the other poor people, yet to come, in the temporary lodgings.
To the praise and glory of the Częstochowa Jews, it should be mentioned that the best of the public and youth mobilised at once to vigorous action. A detailed record of the living location of their families in the cities of Poland was made and, those who had nowhere to go, remained in Częstochowa and its Jews provided them with workplaces and, those who were unable to work, were maintained at the cost of the relief committee.
The deportees, who recovered through the fraternal aid generously given to them, hurried to the homes of their relatives in different cities and were gradually absorbed into the Jewish communities in Poland.
(However, they did not even have one whole year of rest for, on 1st September 1939, the Second World War broke out and Nazi troops saw to it that the Jews, banished in 1938, would share the same destiny of all the Polish Jews. The gas chambers and other means of annihilation put an end to the suffering of these miserable ones!)
Dr Sz. Kaminski, zl
I wish to chronicle, for everlasting memory, one of our townspeople's welcome activities.
At the end of 1918, when the First World War had ended, when Poland had freed itself from the yoke of its enslavers and fought for its independence, it needed the strength of young warriors. Hundreds of Jews, mainly from the bordertowns, were also drafted into the 17th infantry unit, which was stationed in Częstochowa. It was very difficult for these Jewish soldiers to become accustomed to their new situation, but the Częstochowa Jews took an interest in their plight and made an effort to alleviate them as far as possible. The concern was especially great approaching holidays. In order for them to be able to enjoy the festive atmosphere, they were invited as guests to Jewish homes in the city. I was also in the army then and, together with them, I felt that their happiness was not complete. Despite being kindly received in every home, they nevertheless remained depressed. The vast majority were sons of good and charitable people towards all the poor and oppressed and, suddenly, they were exiled from their parents' tables and were forced to enjoy the charity of others. I then met with my friend Józef Edelist and we conceived a plan on how to change the situation.
We decided to set up a kitchen for the Jewish soldiers, where they would feel as if in their own homes. We were also joined by M. Ch. Tiberg and, together, we went into intensive action to carry the matter through. Fortune favoured us. The Jewish Kehilla council, headed by Reb Szmul Goldsztajn, a renowned industrialist and one of the central pillars of Ha'Mizrachi, who represented the Jews in the City Council, Reb Chaim Weksler, also a dear and respected Jew and, with them, also Reb Izrail Mendel Zilberberg and the rest of the Kehilla council, helped to us willingly. We appealed to the authorities and the writer of these lines, as a military man fluent in Polish and also known to the army officers, was able to procure many things for the kitchen. The army leadership saw me as responsible on the part of the soldiers and as their spokesman. Together with Mojsze Lewkowicz, an army veteran, we turned to the commander of the 7th Division, General Pogorzelski, who was truly one of the Righteous among Nations and commander of our unit. The guards posted at his lodgings, at Hotel Polski, stared at us and wondered Jewish soldiers turn to a Polish general and he receives them at once and amiably? We presented him with the mission we had taken upon ourselves and requested that he give orders regarding the conveyance of the meals intended for the Jewish soldiers on holidays to our kitchen.
General Pogorzelski agreed and promised us that he would give the proper orders to the military authorities. And indeed, the victuals were conveyed to the Kehilla council. The best of our youth rallied to the operation and, among them were Józef Edelist, Mojsze Lewkowicz, M. Ch. Tiberg, Leon Plawner, K. Guterman, Abisz Fogel, Abram Danziger, Zilberszac, Mmes. Goldminc, Zajtman, Hajman, Wajnsztok and B. Plawner. Preparations and cooking were supervised by Mmes. Abramowicz and Kromołowski. It was not easy for these ladies to carry this out with the help of girls inexperienced in kitchen work. But, due to their commitment and sense of responsibility, they managed all that was required. The women and girls did not shrink from any task. They peeled potatoes, carried heavy pots and cauldrons [and] washed the dishes and floors. The eagerness to aid the soldiers, who were far from their homes, and to make the holiday pleasant for them, invigorated and intensified them and they forgot the world and all in it. The spiritual pleasure was, to them, recompense enough for their heavy work.
In the first row (at the top and from right to left): Mojsze Zajdman, Abram Danziger, L. Plawner [and] K. Guterman. In the second row (as above): M. Ch. Tiberg, A. Fogel, D. Kaminski, Józef Edelist, M. Baumberg, [and] T. Altman.
In the third row (as above): the first lady I do not remember, and after her, Mmes. Zajtman, Hajman, Wajnsztok, Abramowicz, Kromołowski, H. Edelist, B. Plawner and Mrs Goldminc.
The first holiday, on which the Jewish soldiers felt as if in their own homes, was Rosh Hashanah. Their joy was great and a mighty song burst from their throats when they realised that, were it not for their special kitchen, they would have remained on this great and sacred holiday in their barracks, amongst the gentiles. Through our intercession, all the Jewish soldiers were given leave, even from guard duty, on Yom Kippur and they all came into the city with plenty of time before the last meal [on Yom Kippur Eve]. They spread amongst the different synagogues in the city, each according to his liking, and at the end of Yom Kippur, they again regrouped at tastefully set tables, all happy and content. For the festival of Sukkos, we provided a sizable sukkah [Heb.; a thatched pavilion]. We turned to the timber merchants in the city for the loan of the wood necessary to erect the sukkah for hundreds of soldiers. We brought our young men together, in order to save expenses in building the sukkah, and we constructed a gigantic sukkah with our own hands. It was then that Mr Edelist came to us, before dawn, with unhappy news: the sukkah no longer stood. It had almost fallen apart and collapsed. We hurried to the sukkah's location and saw it destroyed.
By coincidence, nonJewish workers were working nearby on the pipes of the central drains of that courtyard, under the supervision of Reb Fiszel Karp (now in Israel in Holon). Upon seeing our plight, he ordered his workers to rebuild the sukkah. He also called in electricians and they installed very impressive electric lighting. The night of Sukkos arrived and our soldiers' holiday meal commenced, and I may note that, without any exaggeration, whoever has not seen this festive event, has never once seen holiday cheer.
A large crowd of the city's worthies participated as guests. Everything was prepared abundantly and the holiday meal continued until a late night hour. All those present at the celebration heaped praises and unending compliments on us.
On the night of Simchas Torah, the holiday meal was held at the magnificent Sala Harmonia hall Guests were invited to its large stage for the closing of the holiday season. We invited the City Rabbi, the rabbi and prodigy Reb Nachum Asz ztzl, members of the Kehilla and the army authorities. We appointed ushers and entry was permitted only by invitation. We implemented true military discipline and our comrades' adherence was exemplary.
A special table was arranged for the illustrious guests, at which sat the Rabbi, the heads of the community and the representatives of the military authorities of the three battalions which were stationed in the city. Rabbi Asz addressed the soldiers and explained to them their obligation to fulfil the words of the prophet And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives [Jeremiah 29:7] and stressed that they were required to be a model both as soldiers and as Jews. He also delivered a brilliant speech in Polish in honour of the army representatives on the subject The Jews as a Light for the Gentiles.
He was followed by the commander of the Fourth Battalion of the Artillery Corps. Our joy knew no bounds.
A decision was made to double the effort and to also continue with this fine and beneficial work in the years to come.
The Book Committee
The Achiezer Society
This Society was founded, by a few public figures, some years before the outbreak of the Second World War. It set itself the goal of serving as a sort of institution for mutual insurance for its members, who took it upon themselves to pay, during their entire lives, a monthly payment to create a special fund, from which would be paid a onetime provision to the families of deceased members, in order to enable their financial preservation following the death of the family's head and provider.
We have found, in one of the newspapers published in our city (in ;Częstochower Zeitung, #19, from 13th May 1938), details of one of the annual general meetings of this important institution and these are the details of the report published:
Last Sunday, the Annual General Meeting of the Achiezer Society in our city was held at the ‘Merchants and Manufacturers Union’ hall.
The meeting was opened by Dr Hirszberg, who proposed appointing the director Mr Pruszycki as the meeting's chairman. Additionally, member Winter, the lawyer Proport and member Z. Sztyller were elected to its presidency and members Krauzkopf and Manela as its secretaries. Cantor Finkelsztajn conducted a memorial prayer for deceased members and they were commemorated all those present at the meeting standing.
Mr Krauzkopf read the minutes of the previous year's general meeting, which was approved without disagreements.
Mr Sztokman then delivered the current year's report, from which it turned out that, in the past year, the exiting committee had held twenty nine meetings.
During the same period, two members, who had insured themselves for their whole lives and also one active member, had passed away. Six members, who had not been diligent in paying their membership fees, were excluded from Achiezer and twelve new members were admitted.
From its expenditure, the Society had spent the sum of 950 złotych for urgent relief.
Mr Sztokman noted, sadly, that the fundraiser for the high school which the Society had begun, had not succeeded. However, a few hundred złotych had been collected for the purchase of a funerary box. He also announced that the Society's management had decided to renew the memberships of the six expelled members expelled, after they settled their payments.
The board of management also agreed to vigorously acquire additional members. The proposition regarding the purchase of a new funerary box provoked great opposition from the members Danziger, Kromołowski and Rubinsztajn, who pointed out that the purchase of a new and modern bier, whilst retaining the use of the old one, may cause quarrels, if not all the deceased be brought to the cemetery in the new bier. In their opinion, one rule was needed for all.
Members Sztyller and Pruszycki, on the other hand, supported the proposition, stating that the Kehilla's casket, for transporting the community's dead, was completely unsuitable for its purpose and that it should stop being used.
It was decided:
Elections were then held for the new board of management. Successful members were:
- to gather special funds for the purchase of the bier;
- to approve the readmission of the six expulsed members;
- to approve the financial report delivered by member Sztokman;
- to approve the budget for the new year, of 5700 złotych.
Ch. Hercberg, H. Zisman, G. Landau, P. Proport, J. Kornwaser, [and] J. Sztokman. And as deputies: J. Engel, Ch. Gerichter, A. Danziger, A. Zilbersztajn, S. Kac, A. Manela and G. Najman. Members Blausztajn, Herszlikowicz and Libskind were elected to the Audit Committee.
The Nichum Aveilim [Consoling Mourners] Society
Over many years, the Nichum Aveilim Society existed in the Częstochowa slum, on ulica Garncarska.
This Society, founded by simple people, gathered around itself almost exclusively indigent craftsmen, who lived from their daily labours, and who took it upon themselves, nevertheless, the role of visiting mourners' homes, to organise public prayers [of ten adult males] in those homes during the seven days of mourning, to console them and to encourage them for the future.
They carried out their gloomy mission with heart and soul and with loyal love a true love for the People of Israel, as had been accustomed for generation upon generation.
The Society's wardens were Icyk Krakowiak, Szulim Jakubowicz and others, whose names we've forgotten, although they deserve to be mentioned in blessing and in praise.
The Hachnoses Orchim [Hospitality to Guests] Society
(In 1939, shortly before the onset of the Second World War, which brought the annihilation of Częstochowa Jewry within the destruction of the Eastern European Jewry the Hachnoses Orchim Society celebrated its 5th anniversary.)
The society, which had always been popular and wellliked by the city's Jews, due to its positive activity, made use of this jubilee to increase its income and widen its operations.
The board of management published an announcement in the Częstochower Zeitung newspaper, in which it pointed out its important duties and the manner in which they were carried out, particularly at a time when unemployment was increasing and the number of guests, who came to Częstochowa, who could not afford to stay at a hotel for money and knocked on the Society's doors, was steadily increasing and it was its duty to provide them with shelter in its rooms and beds.
The last Board of Directors of Hachnoses Orchim consisted of:
Menachem Epsztajn as Chairman and as members of the Board, Messrs. Szaja Oberman, Abram Epsztajn, Zvi Hersz Epsztajn, Szlojme Gryca, Szyia Wilinger, Szmul Zilberberg, Berisz Tenenberg, Szyia Makowski, Mojsze Meserman, Majer Meryn, Szymon Meryn, Majer Nudelman, Alter Neumark and Aron Essig.
(In praise of the Częstochowa Jews, it should be said that the community responded in generous spirit to the announcement of Hachnoses Orchim's bord of management. However, the Holocaust which the enemy of the Jews brought upon the entire House of Israel in Europe, of course, also put an end to this Society's activity.)
The Book Committee
Our city distinguished itself with its traits of good character, with its great concern for helpless, infirm and poor people.
To this aim, many essential institutions were created among us, which provided needy people with their support and protection.
These institutions were founded through the Municipality, in general, as well as by individuals who, in this fashion, commemorated their parents and families, building necessary and useful institutions in their names.
As the most prominent institution in this blessed activity in our city, the Dobroczynność society should be mentioned (that was its name in Polish but, in our mothertongue it justly received the nice name Maasim Toivim [Heb.; good deeds] or more correctly Gitte [Yid.; good] Maasim). (Its Maasim Toivim continued for decades, until the largest Asmodeus of all generations, Hitler, may his name and memory be obliterated, destroyed all that Częstochowa possessed, together with all its dear Jews!)
The Dobroczynność Society
[It] was founded on 27th March 1899 and, when in 1926 (with a certain delay) it celebrated its 25th anniversary, the Society could count among its good deeds the following:
Following his passing, in 1920, Dr Eduard Kohn was elected Chairman and, after his death in 1934, that function was performed by Dr Ludwig Batawja.
The point mentioned above emergencyaid to the needy was carried out by providing loans, without interest, to the needy in order to thus ensure their existence in a constructive manner.
The outbreak of the First World War, while leading to the liberation of Poland and to its rising as an independent State, also brought great losses to this important institution. This was due to a moratorium and other financial reasons. [The] borrowed money had almost vanished or had lost its real value, so much so, that this activity was forced to cease.
However, a little later, the work resumed and, thanks to the great support of the American Joint and the energetic work of the lawyer Mieczysław Koniarski, who was [then] the leader, this branch of aid became increased greatly and brought great benefits to the different strata of the Jewish population.
The most important aspect of the activity of Dobroczynność, which merits separate treatment, is:
The Jewish Hospital
Soon after its foundation, the Society elected a special building committee, whose first task was to attend to the building of a Jewish hospital in Częstochowa.
The building committee comprised Henryk Markusfeld, Dr Ludwig Batawja, Herman Ginsberg, Leopold Werde, Leopold Kohn [and] Dr Eduard Kohn. Henryk Markusfeld was appointed its Chairman.
On 5th December 1900, the committee purchased a property for the building of the hospital and paid 7,600 roubles for it. However, it was discovered that this site was unsuitable for the purpose and the committee sold it.
Only in 1907, when the old slaughterhouse was relocated to a new location and its [old] place was, in fact, suitable for the building of a Jewish hospital, the committee began lobbying with the government to have this location allocated for the building of the Jewish hospital. To the praise of the Częstochowa municipal authorities, it must be mentioned that it supported this request and on 28th September 1908, the Russian government finally gave its approval and the committee received the property entirely free of charge.
A new buildingcommittee was appointed in order to carry the matter through. The new committee was comprised of Dr Józef Markusfeld, Dr L. Batawja, Herman Ginsberg, Markus Gradsztajn, Stanisław Herc, Dr Aleksander Wolberg, Leopold Werde, Ludwig Tempel, Izydor Freund and Eng. Karp.
The buildingcommittee began collecting money for the cause and also, immediately, made contact with the architectengineer Mankowski, as well as with various contractors. It made commitments valued at 111,130 roubles, even though its fund had no more than 34,000 roubles. On the 18th Sivan [7th June] 5669 (1909), the foundation [stone] was laid for the Jewish hospital.
The Częstochowa Jews did not disappoint the committee. They contributed with a very open hand.
We should name the major donors:
The building expenditures exceeded the proceeds by 20,303 roubles, but this deficit too was covered by further donations from Częstochowa Jews.
Then the question arose of how to ensure the hospital's yearly budget. The maintenance of the hospital's fifty beds required 30,000 roubles a year and, again, the Częstochowa Jews showed their goodheartedness and their open hands!
It was decided to create a fund, from which the interest earned would be spent on the hospital's daytoday needs. Here are some of the legators for this cause:
The hospital contained four wards, which held 50 beds for the sick, [and] two operatingrooms. It contained departments for the internally ill, contagious diseases and the mentally ill.
The hospital also had separate buildings for the kitchen and lodgings for hospital employees, who needed to live near the hospital. It also had a morgue.
The hospital was officially opened on Sunday, 16th November 1913. Cantor Abram Ber Birnbaum and his choir sang Mizmor Shir Chanukas HaBayis [A psalm; a song of dedication of the House; Psalm 30], and speeches, marking the occasion were delivered city's Rabbi, Rabbi Nuchem Asz, Prezes Henryk Markusfeld, Mayor Głazek, the hospital Director Dr L. Batawja and by Dr Zaks.
The curators of the hospital were, from 19131914 Dr Józef Markusfeld, from 19141918 Gustaw Kohn, and from 1918 the Kehilla Prezes Szmul Goldsztajn.
The hospital's first director was Dr Ludwig Batawja, who died in 1939. Dr Stefan KohnKolin succeeded him in heading the hospital.
The hospital constantly developed and was famous throughout Poland for its modern medical equipment.
In the last years, prior to the destruction of Częstochowa, its annual budget had reached 250,000 złotych.
Częstochowa landsleit in America, through their Częstochower Aid Association and, later, through the Częstochower Relief, generously helped to cover such a large budget.
The Aged Care Home and the Children's Home
The aged care home and the orphanage were established thanks to the efforts of the Werde family, in memory of their deceased only daughter, Mina Werde zl.
This family dedicated itself with all its might to the institutions to which they also donated all their property.
Up to thirty elderly men and women and ninety orphans were maintained here. They received the best education by certified, professional pedagogues.
Various technical workshops were also arranged there, in which orphaned boys and girls, above the age of 16, learned diverse trades, which would ensure their existence and their future.
Mrs Jozefa Sztarke headed this department.
The Dobroczynność Children's Home
At the children's home [daycare centre], a great number of the city's poorest children were educated and wellfed.
The institution also provided clothing for the children who were in need of it.
The manager of the Children's Home was Mrs Wierzbicka.
Providing for Poor Pregnant Women
A special women's committee of Dobroczynność provided for poor, pregnant, Jewish women, who were mainly from the poorest classes of the population and who lived in the worst lodgings. They mostly came from large families.
The women's committee of Dobroczynność, first of all, arranged places for them in hospitals to give birth and they supplied clothing for their tiny newborn babies. They also looked after the other small children, until the pregnant women were able to again take care of them. They also organised the circumcisions for the newborn boys and took care of the needy in general, giving them material and moral aid with generosity.
This essential reliefwork was led by Mrs Sarna, who dedicated herself to this with all might.
(Sadly, these good deeds went up with the fire burning Polish Jewry, in the gruesome days of the Nazi invasion!)
We present, here, a short report from the 32nd Annual General Meeting of the important Dobroczynność institution which was, at that time, published in the Częstochowa Jewish press:
In 1935, the 32nd Annual General Assembly of Dobroczynność was held in the hall of the Kehilla. It began by honouring the memory of the recently deceased Prezes, Herman Ginsberg.
The session was chaired by Director S. Pruszycki, with Eng. Przysuskier and Secretary Dobrzynski comprising the presidium.
Dr L. Batawja delivered the activityreport, from which it was learned that, even during the economic crisis, the institution had not decreased its activity in the hospital, the aged care home and the orphanage. The summer camps carried out their tasks in full. True, it had been necessary to struggle with great difficulties, but the public figures' sense of responsibility was sufficiently strong and the institutions were maintained. It is true that, due to lack of money, new investments were not able to be made.
Dr S. Kohn expressed his wonder at the small number of participants in the general meeting and asked representatives of the press to note this in their reports on the institution in their newspapers.
The annual budget of 313,300 złotych was approved.
J. Imich, Mrs Grosman, N. Kohn, Dr Stanisław Kohn and D. Szwarc were elected to the new Board of Management.
There were two centres of medical assistance in Częstochowa: the TOZ Society and the Jewish hospital. The Jewish hospital was founded by Henryk Markusfeld, the great philanthropist, in memory of his parents. The hospital was wellorganised and granted maximum assistance to those who were poor and without means, not only from Częstochowa, but also from the entire vicinity, even including those seriously ill, who had long stays in the hospital.
Until 1934, the hospital was maintained with Kehilla subsidies and by a tax on part of the Jewish population. The hospital's financial situation was never an elevated one but, in 1934, it suffered a sharp financial crisis. The municipal authorities were waiting for the opportunity to take the hospital out of the hands of the Jewish community and to turn it into a municipal hospital, and there was a great danger that the municipal authorities would have their way.
A meeting of communal activists was called, together with the hospital's management, as well as that of TOZ. The hospital's difficult situation was described, as was the impending danger that no other option would be left but to give in to the pressure of the municipal authorities.
In accordance with a proposal by Alter Boms, Szmul Frank, Adv. Asz and Izrail Buchman, that a vigorous fundraiser needed to be conducted amongst the Jewish population, the meeting agreed to implement a housetohouse masscollection for the hospital. The fundraiser induced sympathy from all social strata. The Jews of Częstochowa, even from the poorest classes, participated in the collection of funds.
(Thus the hospital was saved and remained in Jewish hands, until the bloody slaughter of all these donors, together with the patients and the entire medical staff.)
Every city has its specific public figures, who are very often crowned with the title obsessed with one matter, due to their selfsacrificing work for something sacred to them.
There was also such a Jew in Częstochowa his name was Emanuel Wajcenblat. This Jew could not accept the idea that, in such a Jewish city as Częstochowa, Jews could be found who had no challes [traditional loaves of special bread] for Shabbes and he took action. He took the great mitzvah [religious precept; good deed] upon himself and began collecting challes and even [ordinary] bread, and distributed them amongst the poor and needy Jews.
Over the course of time, there were a few other Jews in the city who wished to participate in this great mitzvah and they began helping him to gather the challes.
The need in the Jewish street grew consistently and it was necessary to base the matter on wider and stronger foundations.
At the initiative of the editor B. Bocian, the Tomchei Ani'im Society was founded, which was licensed by the authorities and, in a short time, became a large, branched relief institution.
Every Shabbes, at lunchtime, up to 260 portions were handed out at the Tomchei Ani'im locale, which contained not only challes, but also various other products for Shabbes needs.
The portions were divided in three categories for larger and smaller families, as well as for couples.
As well as this, packages were sent with special couriers to the homes of forty families who had fallen from [former] glory.
And thus, every Shabbes, simple Jews, who worked hard all week for their livelihoods, went out and, sacrificing their Shabbes rest for the mitzvah of that thy brother may live with thee [Leviticus 25:36], carried the heavy baskets around all the streets, where Jewish homeowners were waiting for them the socalled GitShabbes Yingelech [Yid.; Good Shabbes Boys] at their doors and windows, filling their baskets with challes and different Sabbatical foodstuffs for the city's poor Jewish families.
For Pesach, the Tomchei Ani'im organised a special campaign for four hundred families.
In honour of Pesach, besides the matzes and eggs, they sent each family a monetary allocation for the purchase of whatever they deemed most necessary.
The most active Emanuel Wajcenblat, Berl Bocian, Jonatan Izraelowicz, Bajnus Woznica and Krauzkopf.
(Bajnus Woznica was still able to emigrate to the Land of Israel and died in Rehovot).
In 1937, being in my hometown Częstochowa, I was able to see with my own eyes what the activists of Tomchei Ani'im did for the needy, dignified, poor Jews and all without the expectation of receiving a reward [see Avot 1, mishna 3] and with fraternal heartiness.
(But, who could think that, just twothree years later, both the activists and the ones in need would no longer be on God's earth and that murderous hands would kill them all!)
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