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[Page 245]

Goniadzer Ladies Auxiliary

by Mrs. Kamenietz, New York

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

The Goniadzer Ladies Auxiliary in New York was founded 35 years ago. I had the honor to be the founder. Myself, not from Goniadz, but as the wife of Moshe Meir ben [son of] the Rabbi, Gedalia Kamenietz, may he rest in peace, I immediately felt like a member of the large Goniadz family in America.

My husband, Moshe Meir, may he rest in peace, who came to America in 1901 was one of the first presidents of the Goniadzer Society and was very active as a speaker and writer and I decided to help him in his communal activities.

Only 13 women came to the first meeting, in the Goniadzer premises on Second Avenue, of whom I remember Mrs. Atlas, Szwarc, Lewin,

 

Goniadzer Ladies Auxiliary of New York

Standing [from right to left]: Mrs. Ni[illegible letter]man, Mrs. F. Rubin, Mrs F. Frydman, Mrs. Ruder, Mrs. B. Lichtensztajn, Mrs. M. Samuels, Mrs. R. Paperow.
Sitting: Mrs. B. Goldberg, Mrs. Sztroser, Mrs. Lewin [treasurer], Mrs, Kamenietz [executive president], Mrs. L. Kaplan, secretary, Mrs. B. Szwarc, Mrs. Atlas.)

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Szapiro, Gradzenski and Ruder.

The members paid one dollar a quarter. Our first activities had the character of communal recreation. We would often come together in order to quietly spend time together and create friendly connections. In time we began to think about how to help the Goniadzer needy who lived in America. Then we founded a loan fund that would lend smaller and larger sums without interest. Times got better and our members did not need our help anymore, so we decided to provide help to the needy in Goniadz. We established relations with one of our landsman [person from the same town], who traveled on a visit to Goniadz,

[Page 247]

asking that he find out the best ways in which we could help our dear shtetl [town]. Our landsman returned with a detailed report and clarified for us that the most important thing needed in Goniadz was its own building for the Hebrew and Yiddish school where the children would have a play area and opportunities for sports as well as the various classes. We went to work with great enthusiasm.

We then received many new members, among them the energetic and good-hearted Mrs. Seid, the wife of Mr. Gedalia Seid, of blessed memory. Mrs. Seid has remained to this day the honorary chairwoman of the Ladies Auxiliary and she shows the greatest interest in our work from her new home in Florida.

The Ladies Auxiliary produced a journal with the name Goniadzer Shul-Barg [Goniadz Synagogue Hill] for a time, in which were published articles, letters, notes and announcements in connection with all the activities of our society. The journal was edited by Dr. M. M. Kameniecki and M. Malozowski.

We collected the sum of 2,000 dollars for the school. And our joy was great when we received a detailed description in September 1933 of the laying of the foundation for the new school on the synagogue hill.

I find it necessary to provide an excerpt from that description, which we published in the Goniadzer Shul-Barg.

“This day, Goniadzer Jews experienced the most beautiful and most glorious moments of their lives! An evening earlier, on Shabbos in the evening, all of the young people from the shtetl along with all of the school children marched out to the sounds of music with a torch procession through all of the streets, and all of Goniadz, big and small, took part in the

[Page 248]

march - many cried with joy that they were worthy to live to see this great holiday. 'This is how Jews build their own school for their children!”

“Early in the morning, representatives of the Bialystok and Warsaw Jewish cultural institutions arrived with the orchestra from the Bialystok Hebrew Gymnazie [secondary school]. - - - The procession with the orchestra in the lead arrived on the synagogue hill where the massively constructed foundation quietly and modestly welcomed us all. At the side a platform had been erected, decorated with plants, on which all of the members of the building committee sat with the guests. Mr. Zelig Niewodowski, the chairman, opened the holiday with sincere words, sending heartfelt blessings to the dear brothers and sisters in New York. The crowd gave a stormy ovation in honor of the Goniadzer Women's Committee in New York.”

“On the spot, a pledging of money was proclaimed. Whoever did not see the way in which the poor, sick Jews were led by their arms to take part in the holiday and to sacrifice with their pledge has never seen true self sacrifice!… The noble Jewish spirit then floated over everything and everyone and this was our truly greatest people's holiday in Goniadz.”

This is only a small excerpt from the long letter that was written in Hebrew and translated into Yiddish for the Goniadzer Shul-Barg. For a long time, this letter served as a source of inspiration for our further activities, such as money collections for our refugees who had been saved from the Nazi hell, for packages and finally, also for the Goniadzer Yizkor book [memorial book].

[Pages 249-250]

 
 
  Mrs. M. Grodzenski,
vice president
 
Mrs. Kh. Bachrach,
member
Mrs. G. Frydman,
treasurer
Mrs. M. Walkow,
member
Mrs. Lewin,
member
Mrs. K. Atlas,
member

 


[Pages 251-256]

Aid Work in Israel

by Dovid Bachrach - Petah Tikva - Tel Aviv

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

It began in March 1947 when my brother, Moshe Bachrach, sent me a small sum of money to be divided among the old people and needy in our town and he even noted to whom it should be given. There were then three successful Goniadzer young men in the country who had come here [Palestine at the time] with the Polish Army from Russia, through Persia and had gone no further. However, they had not yet settled and needed more than a little aid. Our refugees also appeared with the flood of refugees and, then, the rise of our state. The first ones came in the middle of the night, right from the ship, with ocean water in their shoes. Their arrival in the country was illegal and it was necessary to do it quickly and under all kinds of circumstances. In May 1948 when the gates to the country were opened, the refugees first went to a ma'abara (transit camps) [refugee absorption camps] and in a short time they were spread across the entire land: Hadera, Ra'anana, Ness Ziona and Rehovot. I could not carry on the work alone; it was proposed to me from New York that we should create a vaad [council] (committee) of the following people: Khatskl-Perec Czerniak and I - from the old generation; Fishl Yitzhaki (son of the blond Itshe) and Chaya-Sura Rajgrodski - from the younger generation. Thus was created the vaad that exists to this day.

The work divides into two periods: before the Seids' visit to the country and after. Until the Seids' visit, the money was used for direct support; first for the most necessary things and then for [obtaining] a room, which was a very difficult matter at that time of great immigration. We visited our refugees in the transit camps many times in order to persuade them of what they needed to do and how to get out of there more quickly. This usually was done after a day of work and in the hot summer days in Israel that was not an easy thing. However, we did it willingly. We met the great expenses and the smaller ones together. When we dealt with a large sum we would first contact New York and receive a confirmation. We did not neglect any refugees. We also did not lose sight of the two little sisters, daughters of Kalman Treszczanski, Idl's brother, who lived in Belgium. The twins were born shortly before the war, but the mother died in childbirth. Kalman gave them to a Christian woman to be raised. When the war broke out, he gave the Christian woman a large sum of money. But when the money ran out they gave the children to a monastery. Kalman perished, but his two sons who had survived the war visited their sisters. They often took them out of the monastery for a stroll and once they did not bring them back and, with the help of the Jewish Brigade, they brought them to Holland and from there they came to Israel. Here, we clothed them from head to foot. They are in Israel.

Until 1951 all had been settled and we thought that our

[Pages 253 - 254]

The Committee in Tel Aviv
Dovid Bachrach F. Tzerniak
Sura Rajgrodzki-Berkai Fishl Yitzhaki

 

mission had ended. However, then our unforgettable, dear landsleit [people from the same town], the Seids appeared with a new task, that we should create a gmiles-khesed [interest-free loan] fund and they brought cash for this purpose. According to their message, the idea came from our [landsleit] in Detroit.

Then a family of three souls came from China: a father, mother and daughter. We did everything that was possible to

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make it easier for them and to remove them from the transit camp. We even succeeded in getting housing for them (their own apartment) in Kiryat Bialystok and it was not an easy thing to do. We simply appealed to Mr. Ralph Wein of New York. We received money for the first payment from relatives of this family in Atlanta and in Israel. The committee also was ready to tax itself. However, this caused us effort and heartache.

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Alas, this was not crowned with success because they decided to immigrate to Brazil at the last moment. They did not go but we had given the house to another family. The money that we had received from their family they used for themselves. In April 1958 we lent them a larger sum of money for housing.

We received housing (our own apartment) in Kiryat Bialystok for a Goniadz grandchild, a daughter of Chaya-Witse's son Hershl, brother of Moshe-Feywl the shoemaker. The house simply saved her family. We loaned the first payment to them. They repaid us.

Several words about Sonia Gelbart, our “guerrilla fighter. ” Her father was named Leibl and he was brought up by his aunt, Chaya-Ruchl Luria. His mother, Chanatsha, and Chaya-Ruchl were sisters; [they were] born in Goniadz, [and their maiden] name was Maranc. In the beginning of the century (20th), his mother emigrated to America with two sons, and she left two more sons, Leibl and Meir, with her sister. Leibl married in the Vilna area. During the war, he and his nine-year old daughter, Sonia, left for the woods and survived the war. His wife and a small son perished. When she [Sonia] arrived in the country we interceded and placed her in the Shfeya children's colony paid for by the [Jewish] Agency. When she graduated from the Folks-Shul [public school], we requested that she go to her father. However, she asked for help to continue her studies at a seminar. Just then, the Seids arrived. Mrs. Sura [Seid] took upon herself the obligation and the American landsleit carried this out in the best manner. We have no words to express our gratitude. She graduated from the teacher seminar and is now independent. Immediately after finishing

[Page 256]

the degree program she married a young man from one of the nicest families in Israel. He husband graduated as an engineer and she works as a teacher.

In short, this is the sum of our work here. I will also mention that we had our own money collections when it was necessary.

We received the following sums:

From March 1947 to August 1951 - 1,159 Eretz-Yisroel pounds. From August 1951, Mr. and Mrs. Seid's visit, until 31 December 1957 - 5,640 pounds. Three year seminar, tuition and dormitory [costs] for Sonia Gelbart and a one-time support for an apartment, sent from New York for a family that came from Russian-Poland, with an expense of 2,085 pounds. 3,555 pounds remained for the gmiles-khesed. Nearly 25 people borrowed, some twice and several three times. We can count up to 50 loans. At the beginning the loans were up to 150 pounds; now the loans have to be larger if they are to have importance. Most times loans are for housing or a constructive purpose: such as a sewing machine, but also for necessary furniture. In general, there was not one case that we refused. The main condition is: [that there is] money in the fund.

In addition to this many food packages were sent from the New York committee directly to those in need in Israel.

I cannot end my short report without remembering our tireless friend, Meirim Rubin. Himself a heavy worker; he has been doing this work since 1948, cares for everything and everyone, with great dedication. We wish him and his wife, Benyamin's daughter Faygl, and all the dear landsleit in New York, Detroit, Chicago, South Bend, Los Angeles and wherever they are - a sincere thank you!

 

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