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Melcer, Róża

(1880–1934), political figure. Born Róża Pomeranc in Tarnopol, Pomeranc married Izaak Melcer, legal adviser for the state railways in Lwów, in 1906 (the marriage was childless). Melcer studied at universities in Vienna and Paris, and also spent three years in Leipzig at a conservatory. She was fluent in several languages.

Melcer was one of the first Jewish women in Galicia to become involved in political and social service activities. She was a leader of the Zionist Organization of Eastern Małopolska and promoter of several social service organizations; indeed, she was among the first organizers of Jewish women on a large scale. In Lwów, Melcer established Judyta, the first women’s organization, and in 1909 she founded and led the Organization of Jewish Women (WIZO) in eastern Małopolska. Her brochure, Die Bedeutung die Frau im nationalen juedischen Leben (The Importance of the Woman in National Jewish Life), was widely circulated.

Melcer was additionally involved in the international women’s movement, attending conferences in London, Berlin, Vienna, and St. Louis. Beginning in 1910, she undertook charitable activities, and, after the outbreak of World War I, organized care for refugees. As vice chair of the Central National Committee for the Care of War Orphans, in 1919 she visited Switzerland, France, England, and Holland, seeking financial assistance for such children and for victims of pogroms in Ukraine. That same year, she built an orphanage in Lwów, and in 1925 she established a home for deaf and blind Jewish children in Bojanowo (Poznań region).

Melcer was a member of the first Sejm (1922–1927), elected on the list of the Committee of United National Jewish Parties; she represented the people of Stanisławów. As such, she was the only woman in the history of Jewish parliament involvement in the Second Republic. At the Sejm, she was concerned with social service issues and served on the Committee for Social Welfare and Invalidism. She ran unsuccessfully as a candidate in the elections of 1928, on the list of the United National Jewish Parties in Małopolska (representing Lwów and Stanisławów) as well as in 1930 for the Senate on the national list of the National Jewish Bloc, also in Małopolska.

Melcer was a correspondent for numerous periodicals in Poland and abroad, as well as for the Jewish dailies Chwila (Lwów) and Nowy Dziennik (Kraków). She published a book, Im Lande der Not (In the Land of Misery), for which she received letters of approval from Theodor Herzl and Max Nordau. Melcer also wrote the novels Ein Chazarenkoenig (A Khazar King) and Chancia. Her drama Matka (Mother) was staged in Lwów in Polish. She spent her final years caring for her sick husband, who died in 1933.

Suggested Reading

Henryk Mościcki and Włodzimierz Dzwonkowski, eds., Parlament Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej, 1919–1927 (Warsaw 1928); Pamięci Róży Melcerowej (Lwów, Pol., 1936); Szymon Rudnicki, Żydzi w paralmencie II Rzeczypospolitej (Warsaw, 2004).



Translated from Polish by Karen Auerbach