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[Page 191]

Chapter Six

The Svirer in America and Other Lands

 

Matityahu Bogdanov
Avrum Chayat (Abraham)
Melekh Levin
Aharon Khoury (Aaron)

Svirer Social and Aid Association in America

Compiled on the basis of articles and letters written by the above-mentioned friends

Translated by Mindle Crystel Gross


The history of the Svir landslayt in America has now spanned almost 60 years. At the end of the 19th century, young Svir people already came to America. One of them was Melekh Levin, Yerakhmiyel and Gitl Levin's son. He arrived in America in 1899. His wife, Slaveh, Mirl Ayzikovitch's sister, was one of the first from Svir. Slowly, Svir began to move and a significant number of landslayt from our small town were in the U.S. by 1905. After the failure of the well-known Russian revolution, many from Svir fled to America who had been revolutionaries, who feared their being arrested and chased to imprisonment in Siberia. Among them were the dental technician Yankev Droyn and his bride, the Svir midwife, Lenye.

The Svir landslayt have spread far and wide throughout America, and even reached to Los Angeles and San Francisco in California. A large number settled in New York, and they were actually the first initiators in founding a committee of the Svir landslayt.

In truth, the Svir landdslayt had already begun to organize right after WWI. As it is told, for instance, Melekh Levin, right after WWI, visited his landslayt in Boston and there collected $800 to give help to the suffering and poor Jewish population in Svir. In that year, the Svir landslayt sent via a special messenger, $3500 to Svir.

This was, however, only a small beginning. In truth, the help from America was much larger, because each Svirer in America helped his own family in Svir to a great extent, and with money and with packages. This was the best indication, that the Svir landslayt had not forgotten their old home.

And so tens of years passed until WWII broke out and decimated almost all of Europe.

This influenced the Svir landslayt in America to organize officially as a social and aid organization.

The founder and initiator of the organization was Abraham Chayet, himself a son of parents of modest means, who suffered greatly in his life, and who felt a need to help the Jews of the old home.

In his letter to the friends in the State of Israel, he describes how even as a young boy of eight, he helped his parents to earn a little money. Even as a young child, he was active in collecting for food and benevolent matters, and so it was no wonder that with the onset of Hitler's storm, he immediately knocked on doors and asked for help for the needy in the distant old home.

This was following the holidays in 1939, a Sunday, when Abraham Chayet went to Heves Sudarski and explained his plan, that it was necessary to found a Svir aid society.

Sudarski did not need much convincing and the two of them quickly went to Yerukhmiyel, Borukh Ruven's son. There they accidentally met Shepsl the butcher's son and two of Yerakhmiyel's sons and their wives. All were in agreement, and they immediately decided to call a meeting at Abraham Chayet's and there to lay the foundation of the Svir Society.

[Page 193]


Aaron Khoury, President of the Svir Social
and Aid Society in America

 

More people than expected came to the meeting. Everybody was happy that finally there was the possibility of doing something for the old home.

On November 26th, 1939, at 73 Ludlow Street in New York, there was a large meeting, with the chairman Morris Fisher. Philip Raz gave a report about the situation of the Svir Jews. Following the meeting, an administration was elected to whom the various responsibilities were delegated, as follows:

President: Morris Fisher
V.P.: Eva Raz
Treasurer: Harry Levin
Fin. Sec.:” Nathan Greenberg
Protocol Sec. Max Bogdanov

The Svir landslayt were enthusiastic and were not stingy with either money or effort, so that the action should succeed. As Abraham Chayet describes in his letter, he came to take a check from Yankev Hirsh, Yerakhmiyel's son, and Yankev Hirsh explained to him, that this was the greatest day of his life when he can participate in such a holy cause, to send help to Svir Jews.

During the years, the presidents of the Society changed, but the work was always continued with love and concern.

[Page 194]


Melekh Levin and his wife

 

It is worthwhile mentioning that the first president was Morris Fisher, the second – Louis Ayzikson, Shepsl the butcher's son-in-law, and the third – Aaron Khoury, Borukh the teacher's son, who has held the position from 1943, for almost 15 years.

[Page 195]


Blume Chayet, of blessed memory,
and Aaron Chayet

 

Abraham Chayet writes:

Aaron Khoury infused new life into the Society. He himself donated large amounts of money and influenced others to do the same.

As we said, Aaron Khoury took over the position in Decembr, 1943. When he received the terrible news about the barbaric deeds of the Hitlerists, he immediatelyu sent out a call, saying that the tragedy is huge and the aid work must begin immediately and on a grand scale. And his appeal really helped. In one evening there was collected $2000. He was the first one to give $100 and the others did not hold back. It is interesting that for a Khanuka evening, the charge was $200 for the honor of making blessings and to light the Khanuka candles. Aaron Khoury related in a letter about the colossal work of the administration:

“We did not miss anyone from Svir, no matter where he was. We wrote, we called, we visited and traveled. A separate chore was to find who of the Svir remained, where they were and what we could do for them. We contacted the United Jewish Appeal and HIAS.

[Page 196]


Yakov Drutz of blessed memory,
died in Los Angeles

 

In addition, we also had to help various aged and sick Svirer who are in America.

“All of this colossal work was done by Libby Gold and me. It gave us great satisfaction to do this work”.

In addition to the aid the American friends gave the needy from Svir in America and Europe, they joined the Svir Society in Israel, and sent aid and money and even packages. Thanks to this, the Svir Benevolent Society was founded in Israel, and this will also help in printing this book about Svir. Svirer in America are also active in various other institutions and organization and help out with collecting funds for undertakings of the Israeli government and the Zionist movement.

The Svirer in the entire world will read about this with great joy and pride, and will send their friends in America a hearty thank-you.


[Page 198]

List of Active Members of the Svir Organization in New York

(Their function in the organization and years of activity)

(Member = member of the executive committee)

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

Surname Name Name of father Activity & Years Remarks
ISAKSOHN Louis member 1940
president 1941-44
member 1945-1958
father-in-law Shebsl [Shabtay] was a butcher
ISAKSOHN Sarah Shebsl [Shabtay] member 1940, 1945-1958 father was a butcher
ITZKOWITZ Morris member 1939
ITZKOWITZ Rose Slave member 1940 father was a tailor
BOGDANOV Max Matityahu secretary 1939-1940
member 1941
vice-president 1945-1958
GOLD Liebe financial secretary 1942-1956 mother's name Sara Riva
GREENBERG Isaac z”l Eliyahu member 1939 until his death father was a carpenter
GREENBERG Nathan financial secretary
member 1939-1941
grandfather Eliyahu was a carpenter
DEUTCH Dara member 1940-1944 mother's namr Hinde Chaia
CHAYAT Abraham Yosef member 1939, treasurer 1940
vice-president 1941
member 1942-1956
financial secretary 1957
CHAYAT Bluma z”l member 1945 until her death wife of Abraham Chayat
CHAYAT Harry z”l Yosef member 1939-1940
vice-president 1942-1944
member 1945 until his death
TINKOFF Ray (Rivka) Shebsl [Shabtay] father was a butcher
LEVINE Harry z”l Yerachmiel treasurer 1939 Hebrew name Yosef Hirshel
LEVINE Judith z”l member 1945 until her death
LEVINE Max Yerachmiel treasurer 1945-1958
LEVINE Eddy z”l Yerachmiel member 1939 until his death Hebrew name Refael
MILLER Alex member 1939-1944
SOLOW Joseph z”l secretary1942 until his death
SWIRSKI Philip member 1939
SIDARSKI Harry member 1939-1958 mother's name Chava Yente Malka
SIDARSKI Sarah member 1945-1958

[Page 199]

Surname Name Name of father Activity & Years Remarks
PATOSHNIK Avraham Moshe Itze member 1939
secretary 1941
FISCHER Herman Avraham Zelig member 1939
FISCHER Morris Shebsl [Shabtay] president 1939-1940 father was a butcher
member 1941-1958
FISCHER Sadie z”l Chaim Yudel member 1941-1958 mother's name Sara Tzirl
KORY Aharon Baruch treasurer 1941-1944
president 1945-1958
former name KURITZKI
KORY Ida member 1945-1958
RAZ Eva Shebsl [Shabtay] vice-president 1939
member 1940-1958
father was a butcher
SCHNEIDER Abe member 1940-1944

 

List of Former Residents of Svir in America
who have participated in the
“Svir Social and Help Organization” in New-York

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

Surname First name
ISAKSOHN Louie
ISAKSOHN Sarah
ITZKOWITZ Morris
ABRAHAMS Yakov
ABRAHAMS
BUCK Hyman
BOGDANOV Max
BRESLAV M.
BROMBERG Gussie
BRESLAV Al.
GLASSER N.
GABSTEIN Y.
GABSTEIN Anna
GOLD Liebe
GOLD B.Z.
GORDON Sarah
GREENBERG Harry
GREENBERG M.
GREENBERG Isac z”l
GREENBERG I.K.
GREENBERG Nathan
GRASS Abraham
DEUTCH Dora
DEUTCH Sofie
HEILPERN Julius
HARRISON Max
HARRISON Lilian
HOFFMAN Al.
HOFFMAN Sam
HOFFMAN Simon
HOROWITZ Mars.
WEINER Harry
WEINSTEIN Esther
WEINSTEIN Sam
WEINSTEIN H.
WEINSTEIN Rose
WELLER Lea
CHAYAT Blume z”l

[Page 200]

Surname First name
CHAYAT Avraham
CHAYAT Harry z”l
TISCHMANN Fany
TYNKOFF Rivka
COHEN Heyman
LERNER Yosef
LEVINE Edward z”l
LEVINE Julia
LEVINE Harry z”l
LEVINE Max
LEVINE R.
LEVINE Anna
LIEBER Eva
MELZER Bella
METZ Max
METZ Esther
MILLER Alex
MILLER Fany
MILLER Ida
MILLER Sam
SWIRSKI Sam
SYKEN Eve
SWIRSKI Philip
SIDARSKI Abe
SIDARSKI P.
SIDARSKI Harry
SIDARSKI Sarah
SIDARSKI Morris
SOLOW Yosef z”l
SWYER Nathan
SENDERS P.
EPSTEIN Yeta
FINN Dr. Mania
FISCHER Herman
FISCHER Y.
FISCHER Yakov
FISCHER Julius
FISCHER Sadie z”l
FISCHER Morris
FISCHER Sol
FRIEDMAN B.
FALK M.
FRIEDMAN Sam
FISCHER Dr. Michael
FALSTEIN Ch.
FALSTEIN Y.
FALSTEIN Julius
FINE S.
PATOSH Isidore
PATOSHNIK Abraham
PATOMKIN A.
KANTEROWITZ Harry
KANTEROWITZ Refael
KOPELOWITZ Louis
KORY Aharon
KORY Ida
RABINOWITZ R.
ROGOZIN Fany
ROSEE Eva
ROSEE Philip
SHEYKON Y.
SHULMAN Bella
SHULMAN Bessie
SHULMAN Y.
STERN Bella
SCHNEIDER Abe
SCHWARTZ Sol
SCHWARTZ Sadie
SCHWARTZ Walter
SHERMAN W.
SCHWARTZ Shmuel Yakov

 

[Page 201]

List of Former Svir Residents in Other Countries

In North America -- newly arrived

(The long-time residents are on a separate list)

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

Surname First name Father's name
YOEL (FISCHER) Gutl Zalman Baruch
YOEL Zalman Baruch Welwel
MINDEL Abe Yosef
MECHNOWITZ Baruch Avraham Yitzhak
MELZER Yitzhak Chaim
MELZER (FISCHER) Tzirl z”l Zalman Baruch
MARKS (MELZER) Chaia Yitzhak
FISCHER Yitzhak Zalman Baruch
FISCHER Bashel
FISCHER Henie Yitzhak
FISCHER Zalman Baruch Yitzhak
REZNIK Avraham Leib
STERN (MELZER) Reiche Yitzhak

In France

Surname First name Father's name
ALPEROWITZ Berl Chaim
RABINOWITZ-ALPEROWITZ Yehudit Bendet
ZLATAYAVKA Shabad Sheine Baruch Berl

In Cuba

Surname First name Father's name
ZLATAYAWSKI Zalman Baruch Berl
KORITZKI Hirshel Baruch
KOPELOWITZ Yakov Moshe

[Page 202]

In Germany

Surname First name Father's name
CHAYAT David Reuven
CHAYAT-JAFFE Reizl Reuven
DREWIATZKI Chaia Tzipa Moshe
DREWIATZKI Mordchai Moshe
JAFFE Aizik David-Ber
SWIRSKI-DREWIATZKI Pessie Elyakum

In Russia and Poland

Surname First name Father's name
BUSHKANETZ Shmuel Yakov
GERSHOWITZ-SWIRSKI Ita Israel
DIMENSTEIN-YOEL Fruma Avraham-Hirsh
CHADASH called Der Kriwitzer
CHADASH Chana Meir
YANKELEVITZ Hirshel Bendet
MOLLER Fruma Eliyahu
MECHNOWITZ Feige Shimon Eliyahu
MECHNOWITZ Zelde Shimon Eliyahu
MILLNER Yakov Ben-Zion
PATOSHNIK Leib Israel
PEKING Esther Israel
SOLOMYAK Yerachmiel Bere Yankel
SOLOMYAK Batia Yerachmiel
SWIRSKI
SWIRSKI
SWIRSKI
KAPLAN Avraham Hirsh
SCHREIDER Nachum Avraham

[Page 203]

In Uruguay

Surname First name Father's name
BUSHKANETZ-ZLATAYAWKA Sprintze Yakov
BUSHKANETZ Moshe Yakov
BUSHKANETZ Rachel Yakov
GORDON Rivka
GORDON Sara Israel
GORDON Idel Israel
SWIRSKI-BUSHKANETZ Esther Eliyahu-Nathan
SWIRSKI Reizl Meir Zelig

In Brazil

Surname First name Father's name
AIZIKOWITZ-SWIRSKI Fradl Mechl
BARCHANOWITZ Liebe Chaim
KATZ Yitzhkak Shlomo
KATZ Yosef Shlomo
KATZ Lea Shlomo
KATZ Chaia Shlomo
SWIRSKI Manie Aharon

In Canada

Surname First name Father's name
WEILER Rachel Shimon Leizer
WEILER Berl Shimon Leizer
WEILER Baruch Shimon Leizer
WEILER Lollie Shimon Leizer
KAPLAN Fere Hirshl
DIMENSTEIN Rivka Avraham Hirsh

[Page 204]

In Argentina

Surname First name Father's name
ABEL Meitzik Tuvia
SWIRSKI Lieber Elyakim
SWIRSKI Sara Peretz
SOLOMIAK Avraham Yitzhak Yerachmiel
SOLOMIAK Niriam Mordechai
KAMIN Yosef Meir Itzik
KAMIN Shmerl Meir Itzik
KAMIN Yehoshua Meir Itzik
KAMIN Sara Meir Itzik
RAZOLER Shimon
Shalom (called Shalom from Spiale)

 


Seder Pesah [Passover meal] at the Fine family,
daughter of Feive Swirski, Berlin 1929

 

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