The Book Committee
In 1922, in order to provide hundreds of poor, dignified Jewish families with bread, a few Jewish socialactivists founded the Beis Lechem Society.
In November 1937, at the celebration of this institution's 15th anniversary, it was realised that the Jewish population's financial situation had very much worsened and that the obligations of Beis Lechem towards the needy had increased even more.
It also emerged that it was necessary to give great thanks to Beis Lechem for its initiative to feed over 400 children, pupils of Machzikei Ha'Das [a cheder] and of the municipal Talmud Torah. Besides this, Beis Lechem also distributed foodpackages among a few hundred Jewish families for all the holidays, as well as during the whole year for the especially poor Częstochowa Jews.
As much as possible, the Society regularly requested aid from the wealthy Jewish inhabitants, their needy and hungry brothers and sisters.
Beis Lechem also organised a wintercampaign to provide the needy with coal and potatoes. Every year, the first transport consisted of distributing six wagons of coal and four wagons of potatoes.
In order to carry out the operation properly, the Society organised a fundraiser, from house to house, and saw to it that everyone was taxed, as needs grew from day to day.
At the institution's annual general meeting, which was at the premises of the Jewish Kehilla, the following were elected to the board of management: A. Abramowicz, M. Orzynski, B. Bocian, L. Baum, M. Sz. Bencelowicz, T. Goldsztajn, Z. Gonszerowicz, Sz. Diament, E. Hauptman, A. Win, S. Wajnbaum, Ch. Chaskel, M. Tobiasz, J. Sz. Tenenbaum, Tenenberg, L. Jakubowicz, A. Jurewicz, H. Lapides, A. Lichter, Neumark, Sz. Nemirowski, M. Samsonowicz, Essig, A. Epsztajn, M. Epsztajn, Sz. Fajga, D. Filipowicz, T.L. Feferberg, M. Kozak, A. Kongrecki, Sz. Klajn, K. Kelczygłowski, B. Radoszycki, A. Szumacher, J. Sztybel and J. Sztrausberg.
The review committee consisted of members Heftler, J. Plocker and M. Rozencwajg.
Despite the Society's difficult economic situation at the time, the board of management decided, nevertheless, to conduct the aidcampaign for Pesach. Each needy family received the following products: 15 lbs. matzes, 120 lbs. potatoes, 2.5 lbs. sugar, 2.5 lbs. margarine, 7.5 lbs. onions and 10 candles, as well as wine for the four cups.
The Book Committee
This important association, which was founded with the aim of caring for the health of Jews above all, from the underprivileged classes, had its central [office] in Warsaw. But it also opened branches in the provinces.
The branch of TOZ in Częstochowa was already established in 1923. Dr Stefan KohnKolin was elected as its manager and head doctor.
The association had the following departments:
We have managed to find a report of an annual general meeting from one of the first years following its establishment and we should quote this report.
The Society's annual general meeting was opened by the Prezes of TOZ, Dr Stefan Kohn. At his request, the memories of Cemach Szabad, Chairman of Central TOZ in Warsaw and that of Judge Himelfarb, one of the most active TOZ people in Poland, were honoured.
The lawyer Chaim D. Markowicz was elected as Chairman of the meeting, with his deputies being Eng. Przysuskier and Dr R. Tenenbaum. Secretary was Prof Leon Wajnsztok.
From this report, we can gather that, every year, TOZ takes hundreds of poor Jewish children away from dank, humid cellars and sends them, for a month, to its summercamp, where they are under good medical and pedagogical supervision and receive good and fresh food to eat.
This interesting report describes its activity in the area of the children's summer camps and states:
The poor Jewish child, who always feels that the ground he walks upon is not his and always sees angry looks from the surrounding vicinity and often catches their knocks, is heartened by the motherly warmth that prevails in the children's commune at the summercamp, where the good food and the fresh air, warm his frozen neshumele [Yid.; little soul]. Only one who has seen these children upon their arrival at the camp and afterwards see them when they leave it, can comprehend the importance that the couple of weeks of fresh air have for these poor kinderlech [Yid.; little children]. But, not only is it important that their naked, fallen little cheeks have become a bit fresher and redder. It is also important that, during this month, the children are properly educated. With tears and with yearning, they leave the camp, and, during the entire eleven months, they dream about spending such another month in the camp, in the following year.
… During the management's visit to a couple of shtetls, where the TOZ camps had been organised, they noticed that not only the kinderlech, but also their parents, were very satisfied with the camps. In Mstów, for example, a Jewish lady ran up with a tiny child in her arms and said that, seeing as she had two children in the camp already, she asked us to admit the third child also, for it was, nebech [Yid.; woe, expression of pity], painful for her to see how this child stood, nebech, by the garden, wanting to also go inside…
… We have also visited in Koniecpol, where a camp for 140 children had been organised. In the midst of the committee's session, a Jew suddenly burst in, weeping, and pleaded that TOZ should also help his grown daughter, who very often had nervousattacks and, at home there was not [enough] even for bread. He declared that he would not leave until we helped him…
… This was so at every point, [in] Przyrów, Janów, Olsztyn, Miedzno everywhere the same picture. A mother recounted, My Malke'le [diminutive form of Malka] has been in the same grade already for three years and the teacher (a Gentile, of course), will not allow her to pass up higher under any circumstances, although my Malke'le is a very good student.
… Further, a father tells us that, earlier, his two children would come home from the school where Jewish and Christian children study together, and they would cry due to the persecution and teasing which they suffered at this school. With time, they ceased to weep, because they had already become accustomed to carrying the heavy yoke of exile around on their young shoulders, together with that of growth.
The TOZ association conducted its work through a large network of branches, for which it acquired a name among the broad Jewish masses in Poland.
The association also organised halfcamps. There was a camp of this sort also, for up to 160 children, in the Kehilla Prezes Rozenberg's garden. They would arrive at eight o'clock in the morning and remain until dusk. There, they received food four times a day.
The halfcamps were organised by the teacher R. Gelbord. It was a pleasure to see how the hungertortured Moishelech and Shloimelech [little Moishes and Shloimes typical boys' names] spent a whole month in the free air and their weak lungs took in the fresh air and strength for a whole year.
A celebration was held at the camp in Blachownia. The entire programme was conducted solely by the kinderlech. The programme consisted of reading articles from the camp's newspaper, written by children, singing, dancing, slides and recitations. Krysia Aronowicz and the schoolgirl Wargon particularly distinguished themselves.
After the summercamps had ended, every year, TOZ also arranged a collective outing to all the new points where camps had been organised, in order that the association should become more closely acquainted with what had been done for the children, who, of course, made good cheer with the guests and their parents.
On the collective outing, we first stopped at Olsztyn, where a breakfast was prepared for the forty guests. Together with her children, a teacher, Hela Wajnrajch, also prepared a fine artistic programme.
Afterwards, we were in Janów. A halfcamp for thirty children was there, managed by Miss Kohn. In Koniecpol, the camp has 140 children. It is in a forest, where there is clean, dry air, sun, shade, good water and all other comforts.
The camp in Przyrów has 85 children and is managed by Miss Jakubowicz. During our visit, the teacher thanked the Częstochowa TOZ for its work with poor children.
The performance, which was conducted by the teaching staff Olicki from Łódź (a worker with Literarische Blätterer [Literary Pages]) and Blima Zajdman, met with great success.
From there, we came to Mstów, the last point of our interesting outing, where the camp is directed by Mr Szydlowski.
We very warmly parted with the dear kinderlech and their teacher, Ms Rozental from Łódź.
The next day, we visited Kłobuck, where there are 110 children. The camp is directed by the Chairwoman of TOZ, Mrs Bela Zygelbaum, and by Aron Szmulewicz. The teacher Genia Berkowicz rehearsed a very rich programme with the children and the performance was a great success.
From there, we travelled to Krzepice, where there was a camp for 140 children. The camp is on a manor estate, where there are the most ideal conditions. After the presentation, guests and the local committee were invited to a banquet, at which the activist Szylit, in name of the guests, thanked the Częstochowa TOZ for the fruitful organisation of the camps, which had stirred everyone's enthusiasm.
With our journey to Miedzno, where there were 30 children, our outing ended.
From our conversations with the kinderlech, we noted that all were very happy with the camps. They had only one question why must they wait eleven whole months before the next camp?…
After the reading this report, which was written by Mr M. Kaufman, regarding TOZ's fruitful work in the field of the children's camps and, after hearing the impressions of a few other participants in the collective outing to all the camps and halfcamps, and the opinions voiced by various members who participated in the meeting, it was unanimously agreed:
The Book Committee
The first Gmilus Chassodim fund, located at ul. Pilsudskiego #31, existed for almost twenty years.
Its activity began with quite a small sum, but it developed continuously and reached over ten thousand złotych of its own capital. This enabled it to give out thousands of loans, thus aiding hundreds of craftsmen and small retailers in their struggle to survive.
The Prezes of the Gmilus Chassodim fund, the lawyer Koniarski, worked for the fund with great devotion and, from time to time, lent it money from his own private capital, something which other activists did not do.
Koniarski always endeavoured that every Jew, a small retailer or a craftsman, who requested a loan, should receive it, and as quickly as possible, above all before the New Year, when they needed [the money] to buy the licenses to conduct their businesses or workshops.
In the last years, before the onset of the Second World War, the board of management of the Gmilus Chassodim fund comprised the lawyer Goldberg, Grin, Haftka, Warmund, Weksler and Szumacher.
There was also a second Gmilus Chassodim fund in Częstochowa, under the name of Ahavas Achim [Brotherly Love], which worked very devotedly for its members.
Its board of management comprised Abram Grynszpan, Chaim Wajnholc, Józef Zajdman, Chaim Lancman, Chaim Isaak Pacanowski, Jakób Rozenberg and Majer Szmulewicz. Representatives were Ajzensztajn, Fajer, Frank and Przedborski. The auditing committee was made up of Zinger, Kolin and Szternberg.
The Book Committee
In our city, there also existed an association named Malbish Arumim, which was founded by Abram Mojsze Szpaltyn and Zytnicki. It set itself the task of providing poor people, who were going around barefoot and naked, due to their tearful, financial situation.
Sadly, we are unable to provide more accurate and thorough details regarding its activity, apart from a very interesting fact, which has remained in the memory of the Mizrachi public figure and one of the most actively involved with Sefer Częstochowa, Mr M.Ch. Tiberg, to which he was an eyewitness, in the first years after the First World War.
Passing through the yard of the Szkoła Rzemieślnicza [Pol.; Crafts School], he saw two small wagons one with little galoshes and the other with little shoes. The kinderlech of that school were receiving galoshes or little shoes absolutely for free.
The distribution was carried out by the founder of Malbish Arumim, A.M. Szpaltyn, and other activists, whose faces shone with joy, looking at the happy and cheerful little faces of the poor children.
We also know that, in December 1938, a a general meeting was held, at which a report of its activity was delivered and the budget for 1939 was approved (which was, sadly, the last year of its activity, due to the great destruction of our city).
A new board of management was then elected, comprising of B. Bocian, Salomon, Szpaltyn, A. Gitler, D. Weksztajn, M.D. Lewkowicz, A. Neumark, J. Szternberg, G. Gliksman, J. Izraelowicz, Zilberfeld and M. Ozynski. The auditing committee elected comprised Zborowski and Sz. Frank.
As directors, the board of management chose B. Bocian Prezes; A. Gitler and S. Szpaltyn Vice Prezesi; J. Izraelowicz secretary; and Szternberg secretary.
This association was founded by ordinary Jews, simple people, who did not seek honours for themselves but, very simply, desired to fulfil the great precept of Hachnoses Kallah, about which they had already heard from their fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers.
In a small room, at ul. Senatorska 5, there was a minyan [small prayergroup], where the socalled Amcho people prayed Jews who, nebech, were blackened the entire week by their hard labour shoemaking, tailoring, baking and blacksmithing. These types of people were forced to sit and work in their workshops till late at night, to somehow squeeze out a wretched livelihood for their wives and children.
These same Jews created the Hachnoses Kallah Society and, literally, scrimped on their chunk of dry bread, themselves giving and procuring money from different donors, for poor brides, and supported them in every possible way generally even above their power that only Jewish daughters should not become, heaven forbid, ashamed and should continue the growth of the Jewish people.
They always talked about the brides in need of support during the prayer [meetings] Friday night and Shabbes in the morning. But, at the close of the Shabbes, immediately after Havdolah, these poor craftsmen, together with their collectors Lajbel Niski, Zelig Bratt, Abram Einbinder, Laszer, Kornenc and Gelber, went out to collect money for the Hachnoses Kallah Society.
To the praise of the Częstochowa Jews, it must be stressed that noone, heaven forbid, refrained from supporting this important association and all the poor brides, who required support, were provided with a bride's outfit and with the wedding expenses.
The grateful couple would invite the collectors to their events and, specifically there, they would also fulfil the great precept of making the groom and bride happy. They later also participated when the couple had children and, when it was necessary, they also helped arrange the bris at the expense of their Society.
(Of course, these honest activists also met the bitter end of all the Częstochowa Jews. May God avenge their blood!)
The Book Committee
This institution set itself, as its main task, to recruit members who were capable and also willing to take upon themselves the great mitzvah of visiting the sick and to participate in the night watches in the hospitals, as well as in the private homes, of the severely ill, whose families were themselves no longer able to deal with their illness, day and night.
Although this task is not one of the easiest, this important institution had hundreds of male and female members, who took this great precept upon themselves and would donate much of their time and rest to this important institution.
The Society also saw to it that the poor sufferers should, besides that, also receive financial support and it also sent many of them, at its expenses, for treatment to Otwock or to other sanatoriums, in adherence to the doctors' instructions, of course.
The Society also had various medical appliances in its storage facility, which it would lend out to various patients who did not require night and/or day vigils, but only such appliances.
The last board of management of the Society comprised members Brzezinski, Grundman, Grylak, Jurkewicz, Dr Lipinski, Majtlis, Krel, Rozencwajg and Dr Rus.
The Book Committee
The Ezra Women's Society was founded in 1919. In 1939, shortly before the second unhappy World War that put an end to the Częstochowa Jews, it celebrated its twentyyear anniversary.
A celebratory meeting was held under chairmanship of Mrs. Przysuskier, with Mrs Kremska as assessor and Mrs Goldman as secretary.
Mrs B. Weksler gave a brief overview of the institution's activities which, during the time of its existence, had literally saved hundreds of families. Afterwards, the annual budget was proposed and was approved.
To the board of management, the meeting elected Mrs B. Weksler as Chair and as, committee members, Mmes. J. Bromberg, F. Gutmacher, F. Gajsler, E. Dawidowicz, D. Zand, A. Lipinska, Sz. Erlich, T. Kaplan, J. Rozen, F. Ruszyn and M. Rajcher. As representatives elected Mmes. Goldman, M. Glikson, R. Lypszyc, M. Faktor, L. Fromer, G. Cygler, L. Kohn, N. Kohn, C.N. Kohn and L. Kremska were elected.
The Book Committee
At the head of the important institution Hachnoses Orchim stood simple Jews, men of the people from a variety of circles, who took it upon themselves to observe the great mitzvah of our father Abraham's the fine trait of Hachnoses Orchim.
These activists were allyearround Jews and of varying occupations small retailers, tailors, cobblers, marketstand owners, as well as wagondrivers.
After a wagondriver, for example, had driven around all day with his dorożka [Pol.; cab; hackney], and waged a fierce war with the Polish competition for his wretched livelihood or [from] the joiner to the capmaker who, with hard labour and sweat, barely earned their little piece of bread all these Jews, who themselves lived in great poverty in narrow flats in the attics and cellars, with a house full of children, blieinhora , and, on top of that, weakened their heads for worrying how to acquire a dowry for their daughters who were growing up these same Jews still found the time and patience for social work for poor Jews, who came to Częstochowa and had nowhere to lay their heads.
These same Jews, found in Hachnoses Orchim a home, an opportunity to spend the night in a clean bed in a warm room and to even eat a wieczerza [Pol.; supper] or to drink a warm glass of tea before sleep.
These dear, tormented and hardened Jews did not live just for themselves, but always made sure, in fact, to fulfil the verse that thy brother may live with thee [Leviticus 25:36]!
These poor men of the people created, in every town including Częstochowa, institutions which so markedly displayed the noble sentiments of fraternity and helping others!
The fine deeds of this sympathetic institution have remained in our memory. But, sadly, we have not found any material according to which we could also immortalise the names of these activists. They conducted their sacred work modestly. They never desired any fame and as it turns out, their wish was fulfilled.
They have remained like the Unknown Soldiers, who were granted the great honour of our teacher Moses, of whom we know that but no man knoweth of his sepulcher [Deuteronomy 34:6]!
Glory and respect to these Missing Soldiers and may their holy souls be forever entwined in the thread of the eternal life of the Eternal People!
8.) Alter Neumark 9.) Berisz Lenenberg 10.) Aron Essig 11.) Szmul Zilberberg 12.) Szlojme Gryca 13.) Szymon Meryn 14.) Herszel Epsztajn
15.) Szyja Makowski and 16.) Mojsze Meserman
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