History of the Chisinau Almshouse

In Chisinau, a city where Jews once made a significant part of the population, there were many buildings in which religious and secular organizations were located, and those built by rich Jews for themselves. Unfortunately, most of them were not preserved: many were destroyed by the war or rebuilt during the time of the Soviet power.

We will tell about this architectural page of the Jewish Chisinau. And we will start with the former Jewish almshouse named after Shulim and Gitel Perelmuter and Moses and Sura Kligman.

This complex, consisting of two buildings – a synagogue and an almshouse for the elderly – and built in the early twentieth century is located at Rabbi Tsirelson str., 8 (formerly Popovskaya Lane and Sovetskaya Street). It is an architectural monument of local importance, included by the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Moldova in the register of historical and cultural monuments of Chisinau.

The facade had a symmetrical composition and was executed in an eclectic style with baroque elements. The prayer hall was illuminated through its high windows.

At present, the complex is in condition of destruction.

The largest in Bessarabia Jewish almshouse was founded by wealthy people: Sh. Perelmuter and his son-in-law M. Kligman. “Both of them,” the press stated later, “organized the business and jointly built the building, and then kept it.”

The local press called the building “an elegant little palace”.

Here is a description of those years: “You enter the hospice of the city named after Mr. Perelmuter and Mr. Kligman. The wide entrance leads to a large, bright, high lobby, and from the latter a wide and bright corridor stretches. The rooms are clean and comfortable. Beds with wire mesh, cabinets with as many departments as there are people in the room (usually two or three), tables, cupboards, utensils, chairs and wash basins. Comfortable, fun, and, most importantly, clean. Cleanliness is really Dutch style. Traditional Jewish clothing is conceivable, but without rags and slovenliness as it is among the Jewish poor. The kitchen, the chapel, the dining room, the bathroom with the bathing pool – everything is of exceptional purity.”

The essay “Passover from former people”, published on April 6, 1931 in the newspaper “Bessarabian Word“, eloquently testifies to the observance of the Jewish traditions in the almshouse as one of the foundations of the Jewish charitable institutions functioning.

“Large spacious dining of the almshouse. The room is flooded with a bright light of electric lamps. Three long tables, set in the form of “P”. At two of them the old men sit, at the third – the old women. The tables are covered with snow-white tablecloths and are filled with all sorts of dishes. On each table there are two decanters of white wine. In front of each of the elders is a traditional plate of “Kiara”, unleavened bread and “Haggadah”. All are in a festive mood. Clean dressed.”

In 1913, M. Kligman contributed 125,000 gold rubles to the almshouse and donated it together with the monetary fund to the public.

The almshouse experienced different times, but continued to exist, receiving subsidies from sympathetic people, whose donations of tow lei were accepted with equal attention, as were donations of ten thousand.

The chairman of the hospice Committee Rabbi Yehuda Tsirelson played an important role in organizing the fund-raising.

According to some information, there was a yeshiva in the same premises.

Currently, the building with the adjacent territory belongs to the Jewish community of Moldova, which is making efforts to restore this monument of the Jewish history.

Prepared by E. Goldshmidt

Information from Y.M.Kopansky’s researches “Charitable organizations of Jews of Bessarabia in the interwar period of 1918-1940” and materials of the site http://www.monument.sit.md/