The Bedin Orphanage
(Reposted to this site on 2/11/2004)
The Bendin Orphanage was a source of pride for the city, because of its progressive educational principles based on the work of Januscz Korczak (1878-1942), innovative educator, physician, author, and popular radio personality. The staff of the Orphanage taught children about justice by treating them justly, and cultivated future leaders by giving them an opportunity to lead, as Januscz Korczak himself taught and modeled.
Izzy Hollander, who lived at the Orphanage from 1927-1935 explains:
At my school, the children devised all the rules and everyone had to follow them, no exceptions, even the leaders we elected. We were given a lot of responsibility and we performed many of the jobs ourselves, like sweeping the floors and helping in the kitchen. We were never hit. One of the worst punishments I remember was the supervisor not talking to me.
Endowed by some of the town’s most prominent families, like the Scheins and the Gutmans, the facility enjoyed both generous financial support and personal involvment by its benefactors.
These people acted as our guides. They came to visit us every week, to serve us dinner, to help us, to sing songs with us. And one couple, Dr. and Mrs. Taransczewski, who had no children of their own, came almost every day, to help with our homework, and invite us to their home for Sabbath.
Regina Eisenstein sadly remembers:
In 1943, the Nazis used the Orphanage as a place of confiscation [to hold the Jews before deportation] of the Jewish people because it was located on the edge of the city and it was one of the biggest buildings in Bendin. The Nazis crowded thousands of people together, and even threw small children out the windows. The place of happy times became a place of tears.