TOZ (abbr. from the initials of Towarzystwo Ochrony Zdrowia Ludnośći Źydowskiej, "Society for the Safeguarding of the Health of the Jewish Population"), Jewish welfare organization officially founded in Poland in 1921. It was connected with the OZE society, established in St. Petersburg in 1912, which engaged in medical activities in the former territories of Russia and was later integrated into a common framework in Poland. TOZ began activities in a few regions only, but from 1923 it encompassed all areas in the state. World War I and its consequences, especially in the eastern regions, where the Jews had also suffered from pogroms, brought the society up against a number of urgent problems. It had to combat the contagious diseases which developed into epidemics and were responsible for a high death rate among the Jewish population in general and children in particular. On the other hand, the hostilities along the borders until the Peace of Riga (1921) brought chaos to the state and municipal medical services and prevented the impoverished Jewish masses from benefiting from the sick funds for organized workers. Although TOZ considered its principal role in the sphere of preventive medicine, current needs compelled it to concentrate its main efforts in preventing the spread of skin and eye diseases (ringworm and trachoma) and tuberculosis by establishing clinics, X-ray departments, pharmacies, convalescent homes, etc. TOZ published three periodicals: Folksgezund (for the masses), Gezund (for schoolchildren), and Sotsiale Meditisin (a scientific journal). Among its many services the psycho-hygienic assistance which TOZ offered in treating the mentally retarded or those with physical afflictions was of great importance. In addition to its institutions, TOZ also supported numbers of Jewish hospitals with its advisory services and assistance funds. In 1939 it was responsible for over 400 medical and sanitary institutions in 50 towns. Annual membership fees were paid by 15,000 supporters, and about 1,000 people, including doctors, nurses, dentists, teachers, and medical assistants, were on its employment roll. Additional incomes were derived from support by the american jewish joint distribution committee and the funds raised by the OZE abroad. Throughout the existence of TOZ, its central committee was presided over by the physician and public worker Gershon lewin , formerly director of the Jewish hospital in Warsaw. Leon Wulman also played an outstanding role in the activities of the organization in his capacity of general secretary. During World War II the institutions of TOZ attempted to assist victims of famine and epidemics until 1942, when all its branches were closed down on the order of the German occupation authorities in Poland. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Y. Gruenbaum (ed.), EG, 1 (1953), 582–5: A. Lewinson, Toledot Yehudei Varshah (1953), 353–5; H.M. Rabinowicz, The Legacy of Polish Jewry (1965), 175–6. (Moshe Landau)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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