My Father Rides a Horse, and Cholera is Driven from the Town
circa 1890-1900
From the Zambrów Yizkor Book, 1963

Zambrów is a member of the Museum's World Jewish Communities

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When the barracks were nearing completion, a terrifying epidemic broke out--cholera--and it kept on spreading in Zambrów and its environs. Medical science, at that time, was on a very low level, and the epidemic took away tens of lives each week. When all of the superstitious treatments and remedies proved to be of no avail, the central authorities from Warsaw brought in a doctor by the name of Delaney, a specialist in these sorts of things. He began to create discipline in order to arrest the epidemic.

First, he prohibited consumption of water from the river, or from the brook, that had not been previously boiled. Large containers of water were put up beside the various houses of study, that were boiled day and night, to be used as drinking water for the town. Also, in the community houses, he set up first-aid stations. If someone came down with an attack of cholera, he was immediately isolated from the healthy and brought to a first-aid station, where first aid was immediately administered. With time, the doctor managed to control the epidemic. However, the religious Jews organized a procession to the cemetery, in order to make certain that the cholera never returns. To this end, the discards of old sacred texts, in the attics of the Beth Hamidrash (called Shamos) were collected and packaged. The Jews gathered near the synagogue, surrounded with lit wooden torches, to light the way to the cemetery, because the procession took place in the evening. I was, at that time, still a little boy, but I have a strong memory of the incident, because my father was a Marshal and Commandant of the procession. When the Jews arrived with the Shamos from the synagogue, they were placed on the same bier on which the dead were placed, on their way to burial. My father rode on a horse, this was the first and last time that I saw my father riding on a horse. He gave the signal, and the procession began on its way to the cemetery. Coming to the ‘field,’ prayers were recited, and the Shamos received a suitable burial. Since that time, cholera did not return to Zambrów.  next ►►







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