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Linas Chojlim – Duma Białegostoku – Pride of Bialystok

This is going to be a story! This is one of the discoveries of pre-war Jewish Białystok. There is no precedent on a national scale. On the early 90s on the builidng on the 19 Zamenhofa Street, which today is a private clinic on the facade of the building, noticed the letters of the Hebrew alphabet Lamed and Chet. Previously incorporated into the iron railing, they did not arouse interest. Nobody seen that. Lamed and Chet are short for Linas Chojlim, “Sleeping rooms for the sick” or “Duty for the sick.” It was founded in 1893, initially it was called “Mishmores Chojlim” (Miszmores – guard), so we would say “Guard at the Sick”. After 4 years it was changed Linas Chojlim. In 1903, Tyszka (Tejsza?) Feinberg gave the Brotherhood a square on “Yatke Gas” street – today Zamenhofa, under the condition that it built a decent building for its activities. A small but stylish building was standing after a year. It is, in fact, a miracle that stands today and looks so great. The Linas Chojlim Society ran a social clinic and a small outpatient clinic. In the interwar period Doctors worked here – let us emphasize – volunteers: Gawze, Zadworzański, Kanel, Ginzburg, Mokolski and several nurses. The brotherhood also looked after the sick in their own homes. She provided medical and financial assistance to the less affluent citizens of Bialystok. Medical advice was free or for a fee of 50 groszy (no more). About 3,000 patients came here every year! The society had the only electric bath tub in the voivodship and advanced therapeutic cabinet equipment. In 1930, 10 000 patients used the electrotherapeutic office! In turn, the so-called “The dark chamber” was used to perform professional eye examinations. The president of the Society was Salomon Wainrach, a well-deserved figure, foreman of the Great Synagogue, co-founder of the School of Commerce, member of the City Hospital Board, co-founder of BOSO (Fire Brigade) For his philanthropic activity, the government of the Polish Republic awarded him the Silver Cross of Merit. In 1928, the president of Wainrach together with dr Samuel Edelstein created the pioneer Institute of Natural Healing This project was supported by Hirsh Neymark, so this institution was named after his dead parents: Gedali, son of Icchok and Chaya Deborah Neymark. To raise funds for its activities, Linas Chojlim organized charity balls, lectures to which celebrities in the field of medicine were invited, as well as publications in Polish and Jewish. In 1912, the brotherhood opened the Ice Cellar, a kind of icehouse (fridge) ancillary farm called “Grateful to Abraham” Abram (Abraham) Paryzer (Parytser) An ice cellar distributed ice to sick Jews and Christians around the clock. The ice was cut on the Narew River, Biała was too dirty for that. Only in 1934 members of the Brotherhood supplied ice to all local hospitals It is estimated that about 20,000 patients used it! Ice was available not only for free – for those in need, but also sold for patisseries producing ice cream in the summer season. The company had two cars intended for the so-called “Gikhe hilf” or instant help. Only in 1930 volunteers completed 2247 visits: in Bialystok and outside the city. In exceptional situations, patients were transported to other cities, especially to Warsaw, for major operations. In the same year, doctors from the brotherhood carried out 250 surgical operations, including 142 in Warsaw and 108 in Bialystok. This extremely useful charity initiative was supported by the Białystok magistrate, as well as wealthy Jews from Białystok. Let us remember that it served everyone regardless of their religion, as well as regardless of their financial status. The President of the Tax Office in Białystok, Pole, Franciszek Świtalski, visited the headquarters of the society and reported: “I was impressed above all by the extraordinary cleanliness that prevails in all rooms. The selfless work of doctors deserves real recognition”. Among the volunteers on duty in the Brotherhood was the outstanding doctor Stanisław Rotberg, head of the Polish Red Cross hospital, who supervised the surgical section in Linas Chojlim. Such and this is a short story of the unjustly forgotten Brotherhood of Linas Chojlim, in front of which we will not even see a modest information board. But it cannot be even because of the fact that Białystok historians know little about this Society. They are often mistaken for another company, Linas Hacedek. Why is that? For a simple reason: For decades, the Institute of History of our University has not educated a single specialist in Jewish issues. More: none of the historians knows Hebrew but especially Yiddish. With bitter irony, I can summarize: that in the interwar period our historians have been exploring the Polish-language pre-war press for years, consistently and boredom, and very incomplete archives. It’s enough for a doctorate. They completely ignore significant sources in the Jewish language. translated by bagnowka


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