Dear community members, friends!
I would like to share current and reliable information about plans regarding the use of the building, property and further development of the former Riga hospital “Bikur Holim”. I believe that such a message will be useful, since it will ensure openness and transparency and will deprive our ill-wishers of reasons for speculation and fabrication on this issue.
As you know, in 1924, with funds from philanthropist Ulrich Milman and the American charitable organization “Joint”, an apartment building was purchased in Riga on the Maskavas street and rebuilt into a hospital for the needs of the “Bikur Holim” association. In 1940, the hospital was nationalized; during the Nazi occupation, an infirmary for Germans was set up there; after the war, the city hospital was located here for many years.
In the 1990s, thanks to the energy and authority of such respected Jewish doctors as A. Bluger, Y. Anshelevich, A. Gandz and others, the “Bikur Holim” association was recreated, property rights were restored and management of the hospital was taken over.
Unfortunately, after a period of development, difficult times came for the hospital – a lack of funding from the state budget affected, the community’s capabilities in this regard were limited, and the future of “Bikur Holim” began to look vague. At this time, “Veselības centru apvienība”, a large and well-known medical company, approached the community leadership with an offer to buy the hospital.
It is important to know that the hospital real estate belonged to the “Bikur Holim” association, while the operator of the medical institution, which owned the equipment and was the employer of the staff, was the “EZRA-SK” company. The potential buyer was told that there could only be a sale of the operating company; the property will remain with the community in any case.
At the same time, I met with the chief physician of the hospital, who at that time was the respected Rachelle Schatz, and asked about her vision of the prospects for a possible deal. Rachelle confirmed: the financial situation is difficult, support from the state and the city is scanty, and, alas, there is no reason to hope for changes for the better in this matter. And then, after assessing all the pros and cons, a deal was made, as a result of which the “medical content” of the hospital was sold, good money was received for it, amounting to hundreds of thousands of euros, and they remained at the disposal of the medical management and team, who were completely satisfied with this result.
Then changes were made to the board of the “Bikur-Holim” association, as a result of which representatives of the community leadership were included. We also assessed the development possibilities of the land plot owned by “Bikur Holim”. The conclusions were positive: the facility is located well, in the historical part of the city, which is actively developing, close to public transport, a park, and important infrastructure, etc. After a comprehensive analysis, it was decided to rebuild the hospital building into a comfortable residential building, which is what it once was , sell the apartments in it, and send all the profits to the community budget for the benefit of all its members.
In addition, two new modern houses will be built on the “Bikur Holim” site. Apartments in one of them will be for sale, and in the other – for rent, providing ongoing income to the community.
It was also decided that the name of the new residential complex will immortalize the name of Ulrich Milman, a philanthropist, entrepreneur and public figure, one of the founders of the hospital and who donated his funds and property to it.
This is what the situation looks like around the former “Bikur Holim” hospital. The community leadership will inform you about the development of the project. We will also be grateful for your advice, opinions and support for the project. I am confident that it will benefit the community and all its members.
Chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities of Latvia Arkady Suharenko