ELKA IN JERUSALEM
Elka lived in Hadera upon immigrating to Palestine in the mid 1920’s. She ultimately was hospitalized, died and was buried in Jerusalem. I knew that about her, not much more.
Alice Mileikowsky who arrived in Palestine in 1933 with her mother and sister, Sara, never meet her grandmother. Elka was already in the Jerusalem mental hospital. Alice described her as ‘not dangerous’ and ‘she just did odd things’. ‘Mom (Leah) went to visit her once, (a very dangerous trip to take) and told us that she was normal in every way except in her memory of her children. She wouldn’t admit to them being dead, and behaved as if they were alive”.
In 1997 at the 3rd Ajzenberg Family Reunion in Windsor Ct. I came upon some documents (below) in the possession of Alice (Marder) Meilikowsky.
The typewritten Hebrew letter is from the HOME INSANE and INCURABLE in Jerusalem where Elka was hospitalized. It translates as follows:
SHELTERS FOR THE MENTALLY ILL AND THE INCURABLE
An institution of the Ezrath Nashim Society
In the Holy City of Jerusalem,
May she be rebuilt and re-established
Tevet 26, 5693/ January 24, 1933
To Mr. Dov Eisenberg
In response to your letter (lacking a date) on the matter of making a one-time payment in the amount of 50 (Liras of the Land of Israel) pounds to our institution on the condition that we obligate ourselves to maintain her in out hospital until she gets better, we must hereby inform you that we cannot assent to your offer to maintain a patient for unlimited amounts of time on the basis of one payment.
If you wish us to continue to maintain your sick with us, you must immediately produce 6 pounds - the monthly payment, in accordance with the writ of obligation which is in our possession.
It appears that Dov Berel was trying to ‘make a deal’ with the hospital for Elka’s care. It is my impression that the letter was written near the beginning of her hospitalization, but I cannot be sure.
Sixty-five years later, reckoning that there was nothing to lose, I mailed a copy of the letter with a cover letter of explanation to the above named institution in Jerusalem without any street address. Two months later I received the following response from the Director General of the Sarah Herzog Memorial Hospital:
December 5, 1997
Dear Mr. Eisenberg,
Thank you for your fascinating letter, which has just arrived. Even though practically everything about the hospital has changed since the days your great grandmother was here (including the location) the letter arrived safe!
It will take some time to locate the information you have requested-assuming that it survived the few wars and other local problems…’
Four months later I received a second letter and a copy of a statistical sheet (enclosed) confirming Elka’s presence at the hospital. It is dated September 1939 and is part of a census of the Jewish population in Palestine taken by the Department of Statistics of the Jewish Agency. Page #22904, docket #20089 of the census register shows that Mrs. Elka Eisenberg was a patient in the Ezrath Nashim Hospital in the women’s ward. The specific information recorded is:
“Elka Eisenberg, female, age 82, married, Ashkenazi, emigrated from Poland, date of immigration not conclusive”.
Sometimes in genealogical research ‘long shots’ pay off.
Another document was a hand written note in Hebrew by Dr. med. M Kurtz of Hadera dated November 23 (no year given). It has been translated as follows:
Mr. Dov Eisenberg has been in Hadera for eight years, and all that time he has been a patient of mine. He is now 78 years old.
Two and one-half years ago his wife, Elka Eisenberg became ill, suffering from Dementia senilis.
About one and a half years ago, Mr Eisenberg placed her in the Histadrut hospital for mentally ill women in Jerusalem. She has been there all this time, and there is no hope for her to ever leave the place.
Since that time Mr. Eisenberg has been totally alone in Hadera and must take care of all his life’s expenses.
This note was probably not written to the above hospital but to another agency. It does not contribute much information regarding Elka’s hospitalization. It is the only specific reference to her illness.
Additionally, I have been researching the date of Elka’s death and location of her burial site. In February 1997 I wrote to the Chevra Kadisha (The General Burial Society) in Jerusalem. They responded immediately, informing me that they did not find any records of Elka Ajzenberg/Eisenberg. I wrote to them, eight months later, with some additional information that might aid in the search. Again they responded promptly. “We have searched these names in our burial list, and, to our sorrow, the names were not found.” My letter was referred to the Burial Society of the Chassidic Communities requesting that they answer me directly.
Two of her seven children were dead at the time. Azriel and Sara (Shapiro).
 Dov Berel’s stated age does not reconcile with other information I have.
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