There Once Was a Shtetl [Town] Działoszyn
Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund
The shtetl Działoszyn near Czenstochow lies in a valley, ringed by fields and tall, green mountains. A clear river flows past the city and divides it in two. One part of the river is called the Court River. The women would bathe there. In the second part near the bridge the men would bathe. The river flows into the Warta, which flows by Czenstochow. The center of the city consists of a large four-sided market with many side alleys. In each corner of the market are found wells and the shtetl took its water from the four wells.
In the middle of the market stands the house of the firemen and during a fire the bell on the high wooden tower sounds. The sounding of the bell brought panic to the shtetl each time.
During a fire they would grab the horses from the arriving peasants or from local businessmen and harness them to the firemen's equipment.
The firemen's house also had a meeting hall where theater presentations and dance evenings took place. The firemen's equipment was taken out of the meeting hall for the presentations of dance evenings.
Theater presentations took place in Polish and also in Yiddish, most by arriving actor troupes. The firemen's building was called the vog [scales]. No one knew the significance of this name.
A large chestnut tree ringed with a flower fence was the ornament of the Christian population. The greatest pride of the Jews in Działoszyn was the synagogue. They would boast that this was one of the most beautiful synagogues in Poland. It was a tradition that this synagogue was built in the 18th century by the same Jewish master architect who had erected the gorgeous synagogue in Przedborz and, it was assumed, also in Pińczów. The khazan [cantor] of the synagogue, who was called the Litvak, prayed with a choir of choir boys. When a guest would come to the shtetl, he was taken to see the synagogue. When the aron kodesh [ark containing the Torah scrolls] was opened, birds with which it was adorned, gave out musical notes. It was said that only two such synagogues were found in Poland, built by a German master.
A large number of Jews had small shops of various goods. A similar number were artisans: tailors, shoemakers, cabinetmakers, tinsmiths, hatmakers and others. There were also those who were involved with black market goods from Germany. There were also women among them. When a
woman would be sentenced to several months in jail, a sister or a relative would often spend the night with her so that it would be homey.
Działoszyn also possessed a watermill and a sawmill that belonged to a Christian family of three people: the old unmarried Fildowski and his two sisters. From the beginning he traded with Jews. When anti-Semitism strengthened, he made his own butter from his milk and sold it in the larger cities. After the First World War with the help of his mill he brought electric lighting to the city and was the master of light and darkness. He provided light when the sun set and turned it off late at night. When there was a celebration in the shtetl one paid for an entire night of electricity and one had to sleep with electric lights.
There was also in Działoszyn:
Several weaving workshops where woolen cloth was made. The most important of them belonged to Moishe Zalman Rusak, Hershl Weber, Yehuda Leibush Gnaslaw. Each weaving workshop consisted of two or three weaving machines and employed several workers.
Two sock factories with hand machines that employed Jewish girls belonged to the Rusak family, to Shloma Sztemplers and Zelikowicz.
About 10 girls worked in the two straw hat factories of Alka Barnsztajn and Hershl Kutlak.
Dozens of workers, Jewish and Polish, were employed in the two Jewish tanneries.
The finished goods were sent by wagon to Warsaw, Lodz and other cities.
Every two weeks a fair took place in Działoszyn. Peasants from the villages and Jews from the surrounding shtetlekh arrived with their products and goods.
Działoszyn couples loved to stroll in an informal garden that were called lipkes because of the lipove [linden] trees. The gardens belonged to Tovya Jakubowicz, the Hasid. However, Reb Tovya strolled here after his Shabbos nap and the young people moved to the Czenstochower road at the bridge.
The group Shomrei Shabbos [Shabbos Guardians], which did not permit girls to stroll together with boys, often disturbed the strolling of the young couples in order to protect the city from illnesses
Two feldshers [providers of medical care, often referred to as barber-surgeons], Yehuda Hersh and Itshe Meir, who also served as doctors and dentists, also protected Działoszyn from illnesses. Their wives were midwives, delivering the children for the women in childbirth.
*The malamdim [teachers in religious schools] in Działoszyn: the lame Leib, Moshe P . Mendl Trene and Motl Sz
Zalme Didje taught the children of well-to-do parents how to read and write in Yiddish, Polish, Russian and German.
The young left the shtetl at 15 or 16. They mainly went to Lodz or Czenstochow. Then when they needed to serve Fonya [Russia service in the Russian army] they left for America.
Chaim Szilit was the uszony yevrei [learned Jew]. He reported the births of children, wrote petitions and when necessary defended Jews he was also an advokat [laywer].
Nakhman Blander was the poor man of the shtetl, had a dozen children who helped him earn his living. With even more children more pity and donations. The brisn [ritual circumcisions for his sons] were paid for by the city. There was no name for the child at the last bris. At that time, the rabbi said that he had seen various poor people, but this was the first time that he had seen that a poor person did not possess a name.
Działoszyn had several charity societies, such as the hakhnoses orkhim [provides hospitality to visitors], hakhnoses kalah [assistance for poor brides], gmiles khesidim [interest free loan societies] and bikur-khoylim [society to visit the sick].
The poor house was near the cemetery. Visitors from elsewhere went through the shtetl collecting donations. City Jews took home visitors for Shabbos.
When the hakhnoses kalah married off Binele the hunchback of Działoszyn to Zelik the water carrier from Pajczeno the shtetl was joyful. The wedding took place in the house of the gabbai [synagogue trustee], Moishe Zalman Rusak, and all of the Jews in the shtetl were in-laws. The groom and the bride were led to the khupah [wedding canopy] in the synagogue courtyard as in all of the weddings in the shtetl. Household utensils for
the couple tumbled from the wedding presents that all of the Jews of the shtetl had given.
The main water carrier was Itsik the goylem. Once, during the winter, he slipped and fell down. A crowd of Jews saved him. His first words were: Gevald [Yiddish word meaning violence, but used as an exclamation when seeking help], Jews, look, I am still alive!
There were no fights between the Jews and Christians. Jews were only cursed with the word, Zydze. At kol nidre [prayer recited at the start of the Yom Kippur Day of Atonement - evening service annulling all vows] on Yom Kippur, the intelligent Christians, such as the rejent [notary public], the sędzia [judge], the soltys [village head] and the scribe for the government office came to the synagogue.
It occurred that the Jewish judge's daughter came from Wielun with a groom a Russian soldier. The shtetl learned of this, went to the father's house and poured tar on the daughter's head. The groom ran away. The bride had to shave the hair on her head and remained a Jewish daughter.
A Jew in the shtetl had a carousel.
Before leaving to be conscripted, recruits having a fling removed the horses from the carousel at night and carried them through the entire city. At every house stood a little horse. The Jew had enough work gathering the horses and restoring his income.
Działoszyn suffered from a storm 40 years ago.
After a severe winter, when the snow on the surrounding hills melted, water flooded the shtetl and transformed all of Działoszyn into a giant river in which various tools, cattle and even people floated around.
It was necessary to go by boat in order to return from one corner of the city to the other.
The city became severely impoverished then because the people could not work for two weeks and could not carry on any commerce.
But Jewish Działoszyn again lived, worked, bought and sold and increased its size. Until the bloody flood of Nazi-German murderers wiped it from the earth like hundreds of other shtetlekh.
Only a memory remains: There once was a shtetl Działoszyn.
Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund
The founding of the Dzialoszyn landsmanschaft [organization of people from the same town] organization took place on the 9th of August 1897. Several Dzialoszyn landsleit [people from the same town] came together then in New York. Among them were: Ahron Hillel [Aaron Hill], Leib Kuper [Cooper], Mendl Libowicz [Max Leibowitz], Chaim Lewy [Levy], Jacob Mitchell, Mendl Pelta, Moshe Rot [Roth], Moshe Mikhal Stawski [Morris Stofsky], Zalman Sinet and Moshe Szilit [Morris Schillet]. They were the organizers and the founders of the society.
In 1910 the Constitution of the First Zaloshiner Chevra Anshei Bnei Achim was published in book form in the Yiddish language. This constitution of the society was unanimously accepted at a meeting on the 24th of April 1909.
The name of the society was established, as the city is named in Yiddish, Zaloshin, although in Polish the name of the shtetl [town] is Dzialoszyn.
The constitution, which was preserved in book form, was put together by a law committee that consisted of the following people: Herman Kohn, chairman, Moshe Stawski, Herman Szilit, Moric Szilit, Jacob Mitchell, Leib Cooper, Yoal Steinhaus, Leib Lefkowicz, Yehuda Hirsh Fajertag [Harry Fiertag], Moshe Gelbart and Shimshon Yakov Horowicz.
According to the original constitution, the society was called Chevra [society, association or friends] and its purpose was mutual support in need, sickness and death.
It is said in the further paragraphs of the constitution: When for various reasons members voluntarily leave or the society excludes them, the society will retain its name and the assets it possesses as long as there are seven members in good standing.
When another society wants to join our society it can do so only after accepting the name and laws of our society.Every member who belongs to the society among others things:
The language at the gatherings, meetings, in the minutes, accounting, notices and so on will be carried out in Yiddish.
Must have been in the country for at least one year, be moral, physically and spiritually healthy. Must believe in the Jewish religion. When he marries, he must marry a Jewish woman in a Jewish ceremony according to the laws of Moses and Israel; and his son must be circumcised. He must show the society's doctor that he and his wife are healthy and he must uphold the position of his family.The incomes of the society are:
Proposed monies, initiation monies, regular contributions, fines, promised donations, synagogue tickets, Four Gates Acres (cemetery) and so on.The managing committee of the Society consists of: president, vice president, recording and finance secretaries, treasurer and three trustees. They must at least be able to sign their names. Each official must pay all of his debts to the Society before he is installed.
Every new candidate must pay five dollars for the Four Gates Acres.
The exact duties and activities of the officials were given precisely in 13 paragraphs.
Here is the wording of a number of these paragraphs:
Every member is obligated to pay donations and other contributions to the Society. [Every member should] be present at all general and special meetings, [visit] the home of a deceased brother or his wife, God help us, on the authorization of the secretary and provide the costs for the deceased and from there accompany the deceased to a designated place. At the death of a member or his wife, God help us, or [during] shiva [period of morning], brothers [society members] will [provide] a minyon [10 men needed for prayer]. The society must provide a minyon for the mourners every morning and evening and the costs will be divided evenly among the brothers. When a brother is very sick, God help us, a guardian [must be provided] at night. The finance secretary should in turn send two brothers every night. The brother in question must appear himself [or provide a substitute] no later than 10 o'clock in the evening and must not leave the house before six in the morning. When a member or his wife, God help us, is dying, the gabbai [sexton] of the burial society needs to make sure that those present remain with the deceased until the burial. When one brother or his wife, God help us, dies and is buried at the cemetery, the society should take care of the preparations of the cemetery plot: provide a wagon or two carriages for the family and without cost. At [a member's] death, a tax of one dollar should be placed on each member and the money should be given to the widow or to the next member of the family. At the death of a member or of his wife or children, [they will be] buried at our cemetery; the society will [take care of] the stone.The shiva [seven days of mourning], sick benefits and support for members and their families were [controlled by the rules] in 14 paragraphs.
The assignments and rights of the khevre kadishe [burial society] or the funeral committee are given in eight paragraphs. Paragraph seven reads as such:
Regarding the burial of a body, no one is to send word except the gabbai of the khevre kadishe and the president.Paragraph 8 reads:
The gabbai of the khevre kadishe or any office of the society has the right to sell or give away cemetery plots to one of our members the agreement of all brothers.The khevre kadishe a first gabbai and second gabbaiI and can have its own fund. The income and expenses of the khevre kadishe are regulated by paragraphs five and six. The paragraph defines:
All [previously] unspecified expenses by the gabbai of the burial committee of the Society, for example, [used for] arrangements for a deceased [member] will be paid by the society.Paragraph 6:
The tzedakah [charity] money from accompanying the casket of the deceased as well as the revenue from the aliyahs [being called up to read a portion of the Torah] and the Shemini Atzeret [holiday following the Feast of Tabernacles on which the prayer for rain is started, to be repeated until Passover] vows and the eighth day of Passover will belong to the khevre kadishe.[Page 332]
The khevre kadishe also is authorized to
take five dollars each year from the society's treasury for one banquet The task of the gabbai of the khevre kadishe according to paragraph 3:
At the death, God help us, of a brother or his wife, the gabbai must go to the house of mourning and verify that the purity and clothing according to Orthodox ritual [has been observed].In accordance with paragraph 4:
When the deceased is a male, the [head of the household] must take care of him; however, when the deceased is a woman, two women must be provided by the khevre kadishe and the [preparation of the body] and clothing will be taken care of under the khevre's direction.When the constitution of the society was adopted, the officials were:
Brothers from the khevre can be punished with a fine, according to this constitution, for not coming to a funeral or for not performing any duty and they can be removed from the khevre for not behaving properly or for a criminal offense.
Changes in the constitution can be made with a majority of two-thirds votes and when the change has been considered at two meetings.
Former presidents: Zalman Sinat, Moshe Pinkus and Moshe Granek.There is no doubt that most Dzialoszyn landsleit were grouped around the First Zaloshiner Khevra Anshei Bnai Akhim in New York. A large number of Czenstochow landsleit also joined this society. The number of members grew from day to day and the society carried out the task of bringing help to the needy and, first of all, to the newly arriving Dzialoszyn immigrants. The constitution cited developed as a result of the daily needs of the members. The communal significance of the Society grew greatly from 1905-1907 when a large number of immigrants arrived and still more during the First World War.
President: Moshe Mikhal Stawski; vice president: Yoal Sztajnhaus; recording secretary: Hersh Meir Szerade; finance secretary: Yitzhak Zelkowicz; treasurer: Moshe Szalit; first managing committee member (trustee): H. Szilit; second: Leib Kuper; third: Sam Stawski.
Immediately after the First World War, the Society introduced new important tasks to help the remaining landsleit and families in the old home, Dzialoszyn and the Dzialoszyn Aid Committee, about which we write separately, was founded.
In 1932 the new charter was published in book form with 112 pages in Yiddish as well as in the English language. The new charter of the Society was adapted to the requirements of the time, under the heading Constitution First Zaloshiner Khevra Anshei Bnai Akhim. The emblem symbolized welcoming hands.
As is mentioned in article 11, paragraph 15, This constitution was completed and read to the brothers three times and accepted by the officers and the brothers on the 2nd of August 1931 in New York. All of the offices and committees of that time are stated in this constitution.
Ex-presidents: Moshe Granek, Yehuda Hirsh Fajertag, Moshe Mikhal Stapski, Yudl Stapski, Chaim Kohn, Leibish Granek, Yoal Sztajnhaus, Emanuel Wargon, Nisen Cymerman, Willy Nachtigal, Sam Kolin.
Willy Nachtigal, ex president; Avraham Senzer, president; Sidney Kessel, vice president; Yakov Brzezinski, recording secretary; Yakov Zaks, finance secretary; Nisen Cymerman, treasurer; Avraham Senzer, first trustee; Emanuel Wargon, second trustee; Harry Gold, third trustee; Yehuda Hirsh Fajertag, chairman of the loan fund; Sam Kalin, treasurer of the loan fund; Emanuel Wargon, chairman of the fund; Sam Wien, doctor; Irving Kleinman, doctor; Nisen Cymerman, chairman of the cemetery fund.
Mikhal Stapski, first gabbai; A. Nachtigal, second gabbai.Constitution Committee:
Nisen Cymerman, chairman; Moshe Granek, secretary; Yehuda Hirsh Fajertag, Harry Fajersztajn, Emanuel Wargon, Yudl Stapski, Yakov Miczel, Willy Nachtigal, Joe Markowicz, Yakov Zaks, Avraham Senzer, Yakov Brzezinski, Leibish Peltc, Zakan Rozenthal, Philip Lazarow, Leibish Lefkowicz, Moshe Gold, Sam Kessel, Morris Lesser, Izzy Epsztajn, Harry Gold, Sam Kalin and Yoskowicz.Again it stipulated the society with the name of its home city. Article 1, paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Constitution states: As long as there are
seven members in good standing, the name First Zaloshiner Khevra Anshei Bnai Akhim will remain, the name of the Society cannot be changed. Conversely, the first constitution in which it is stated that the Yiddish language is the only official language of the Society, in article 1, paragraph 4 of the new constitution, English is given equality: All dealings of the Society, as well as the books, shall be carried in the Yiddish or English languages. The constitution itself was published in both languages, in Yiddish and English.
Article 1, paragraph 5 of the Constitution establishes: The laws of the United States of America, as well as the laws of the State of New York and the laws of the Jewish religion, will be the basic law of the Society and will be carried out according to parliamentary rules.
In short, the membership of the Society felt established in this country and the American laws and the democratic customs became a part of their communal consciousness. But, the religious basis of the Society remained untouched. The warning about relationships from the old Constitution were repeated in article 3, paragragh 2: Each candidate must have been in the country for six months and must be healthy. When he marries he must do so according to Jewish law. He must have his sons circumcised and and feed his family. When one is married and wants to join alone, he may not enter the Society. When a single man belongs to the Society and marries not according to Jewish law, he will be legally stricken from the Society.
In article 7, paragraph 17, it also is said that, When a brother does not sit shiva for a full week, he is not entitled to any shiva money.
Sitting, from right to left: Emanuel Wargon, Yehuda Hirsh Fajertag, Moshe Meyers, Willy Nachtigal, Joe Lewin, Hymie Epsztajn, Yakov Brzezinski, Avraham Szifer.
First row, standing from right to left: Itshe Epsztajn, Philip Winkler, Avraham Yakov Senzer, Leibl Lefkowicz, Benny Pelcz, Dovid Rozensztajn
Second row, from right to left: Harry Fajersztajn, Yitzhak Rozen, Morris Swetlow, Charlie Lenczner, Joe Markowicz
All the other articles and paragraphs from the Constitution also did not create any substantial changes in the basis and character of the Society.
The Society numbered 232 members (222 men and 10 women) in 1932; the majority of the members of the Society were Dzialoszyn landsleit and from a number of surrounding shtetlekh [towns]. A considerable number of Czenstochow landsleit belonged to the Society.
Today the Society numbers 190 members (180 men and 10 women). It has four cemeteries valued at $20,000. Thirteen members took part in the Second World War in the American Army. The Society bought War Bonds [worth] $7,000. The benefits of the Society are:
Sick benefits, Shiva-minyon [10 men to pray at the home of those in mourning], old age, aid and loan benefit. During the last three and a half years from 1942-1945 250 dollars were paid to members as sick benefits; shiva benefits 200 dollars. Aid benefits [were paid of] 175 dollars and 2,500 dollars.
The income at the same time reached approximately 14,000 dollars and the expenses 12,000 dollars.
The Society supported the following communal institutions in their campaigns: United Joint Appeal, American Jewish Congress, New York and Brooklyn Federations, HIAS, American Federation of Polish Jews, United Chinese Relief, Russian War Relief, New York War Fund, American Red Cross, Deborah Sanatorium, Saratoga Springs House, National Association of the Jewish Blind.
Officials for 1945 were:
Joe Lewin, ex-president; Wm. Nachtigal, president; Morris Meyers, vice president; Joe Lewin, treasurer; Hyman Epsztajn, finance secretary; Jacob Brzezinski, recording secretary.Chairman of Funds:
Benj. Peltc, Endowment; Charlie Lenczner, Old Yiddish; Avraham Yakov Senzer, Cemetery; Joe Markowicz, Loan; Morris Swetlow, Treasurer of Loans; Philip Winkler, Aid.Chairman of Cemetery:
Avraham Y. Senzer, 1030 Bryant Avenue, Bronx, N.Y. Telephone: Dayton 3-8908.Trustees: L. Lefkowicz, Y. Epsztajn, D. Rozensztajn.
In the year in which these lines are published in the book, Czenstochower Yidn, the First Zaloshiner Khevra Anshei Bnai Akhim will celebrate its 60th anniversary. This alone gives witness to the share this Society has in the history of Jewish communal life in America.
The Aid Work for the Old Home, Dzialoszyn
The aid work for the old home, Zaloshin (Dzialoszyn) takes up a separate chapter in the history of the Society.
Immediately after the First World War, in 1919, letters began to arrive from relatives and friends from Dzialoszyn, the old home, and from landsleit who lived in the surrounding shtetlekh, such as: Kielczyglow, Krzepice, Truskolasy and in the city, Czenstochow. The letters told about the great need of the local Jewish population, about the difficult problems of earning a living and about the ruins created by the war. The letters from the Zaloshiner Rabbi and Khazan [cantor] were extremely heart-rending. His call for help resonated with the catastrophic situation of the Jewish community in Dzialoszyn. The Society then decided to dedicate all of its energy to help for the brothers on the other side of the sea and called upon its members to found a Dzialoszyn Relief Committee.
The founding meeting of the Relief Committee took place in Mendl Pelta's house on the 10th of August 1919. Nusan Cymerman, Mendl Pelta, Moshe Stafski, Philip Lajzerowicz, Morris Lajzerowicz, Shmuel Shaya Szilit, Jacob Mitchell, Moshe Gold, Zokn Rozental and Lou Cymerman came to the meeting. It was decided to found the First Zaloshiner Relief Committee. Elected were: chairman Nusan Cymerman; secretary Zokn Rozental; treasurer Mendl Pelta. A committee that established contact with the landsleit in Paterson was also established and a printed letter was sent to all Dzialoszyn landsleit about the founding of the Relief Committee. Forty-two dollars were collected immediately on the spot.
The activity of the Relief Committee lasted until February 1931. During this time, in addition to those mentioned above, those active were: Kalman Samsonowicz, Morris Meyers, Hymie Fox, Feywish Markowicz, Willy Nactigal, Mishe Pinkus, Dave Zlatnik, Sam Szilit, Max Meyers, Joe Stone, Jack Szlezinger, Urbach, Abe Hayden, Max Hayden,
Joe Markowicz, Demsy, Landau, F. Stone, Zigman Frydman, Yisroel Pinkus, Isidore Rozen, Leser and Sztajnhaus.
The majority of the dozens of meetings of the Relief Committee took place in the residences of the aid workers. And at every meeting, there would be collections for the Relief Fund among the members themselves and, when it was necessary, loans were made by those taking part, starting at five up to 100 dollars. The chairmen of the committee over the course of time were: Nusan Cymerman, Moshe Stafski, Yudl Stafski and Morris Lajzerowicz, secretary: Zokn Rozental, treasurers Mendl Pelta, Yisroel Pinkus.
The Women's Committee that helped with the activity consisted of Pinkus, chairwoman, Samsonowicz, Szlezinger, Stafski, Markowicz and Ticzberg.
Mass meeting took place at which reports were given about the activities and collections were made. Theater performances also were undertaken that brought very large sums of from 300 to 500 dollars at one time into the treasury.
Pushkes [cans] were also divided among the landsleit to collect money at every opportunity.
First of all, every time aid was sent, the Society sent not less than 100 dollars from its treasury. In total, the Society paid 600-700 dollars into the Relief Fund. Several hundred dollars came into the Relief Fund from the pushkes. The member of Relief paid their voluntary assessment every time and each of them gave an on-going monthly payment for a time.
To Whom the Aid Was Allocated
Because of the drop in the [value] of the Polish currency immediately after the First World War, the dollar would mostly be exchanged for Polish money and Polish marks were sent to Dzialoszyn. At first the aid was sent individually to the needy. Each request that arrived from the needy was accepted, even from landsleit [outside of] Dzialoszyn, such as from Krzepice, Kielczyglów, Truskolasy, Czenstochow and others. Later, help was sent for every holiday, particularly for Passover. Communications were established with the committee, which often changed its composition, under the chairmanship of the Dzialoszyn rabbi. The committee would receive instructions as to how to divide the aid and would send a receipt signed by everyone who received the support. In 1919, 153 people in Dzialoszyn received support of up to 200 marks each. In the year 1920 a sum of 159,325 marks was sent. In 1921 5,000,000 marks and support of 1,500, 2,000 and 3,000 marks was distributed per person. In 1922 the total support reached 300,000 marks and it was decided to invest a million marks in a gmiles khesed [interest free loan] fund. In 1924 five million marks for 82 people.
The idea of creating a gmiles khesed fund arose because of the frequent conflicts that occurred over the division of support. It was decided that the gmiles khesed fund would give loans of 10 to 15 thousand marks without interest to everyone who was in need of support. Relief in New York created a statute for the fund with 13 points. It was decided in connection with this plan to recruit members with dues of 50 cents specifically for the fund. On the 25th of June 1922, 82 dollars arrived for the fund from members' dues. The founding of the interest-free loan fund met legal difficulties from the Polish administration and the matter was delayed. When Brothers Lajzerowicz went to Dzialoszyn for a visit in 1922, Relief authorized them to found the interest-free loan fund and take 75 dollars with them for this purpose. A banquet was held at their departure.
The loan fund in Dzialoszyn finally opened in 1924. This took place in the presence of the aid workers Sam Szilit and Mrs. Rozen, who had then come to visit their home city. A managing committee for the fund was designated with a paid official, who took over the conduct of the business. The fund also received the support of the Joint [Distribution Committee]. At the departure banquet Friend Szilit and Mrs. Rozen were given 300 dollars for the Fund and the authorization to take an additional 200 dollars from the Joint if it would be necessary.
On the 26th of October 1924 Friend Sam Szilit and Mrs. Rozen gave a report about the fortunately established fund. The managing committee of the fund voted to give loans up to 25 zlotes to be paid back one zlote a week. In 1926 Relief sent 400 dollars for Passover. Two hundred fifteen people benefited from the support and 42
received it in the form of money. [They also] received matzos. In 1930, 300 dollars was sent through HIAS [Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society] and 150 dollars in 1931 for potatoes and matzos.
In total, during the course of the time mentioned, Relief supported the needy in the home city with a sum of over 2,000 dollars. In addition to this, Relief also supported the firemen in Dzialoszyn with a one-time sum and helped to repair the community buildings.
At the conclusion, let us remember the landsleit in Dzialoszyn who helped to distribute the support and lead the interest-free loan fund. These are the esteemed people who were chosen by the Relief Committee in New York.
The Rabbi, Reb Benyamin Elia, chairman.
Avraham Meir Szilit.
Leyzer Sholem Lipszic.
Wolf Zisking, chairman.
Wolf Chaim Till, treasurer.
Josef Chwat, secretary.
Sholem Hersh Markowicz.
Josef Szilit, chairman.
Sheptel Bornsztajn, vice chairman.
Avraham Hersh Szilit.
Yuda Hersh Izbicki.
The First Zaloshiner Ladies Auxiliary
Sitting, from right to left: Masha Zelkowicz, Dora Nachtigal, Mary Lefkowicz, Fanny Winkler, Chaya Ruchl Wargon, Mary Rozen.
Standing, from right to left: Dorothy Epsztajn, Sadie Senzer, Becky Meyers, Ita Leah Lenczner, Ray Gold, Fryda Fajersztajn, Helen Markowicz
The Renewal of the Aid Work in 1936
On Sunday, the 1st of November, Dzialoszyn landsleit came together and it was decided to revive Dzialoszyn Relief to be in a position to help the needy in Dzialoszyn. The stimulus was the fact that at the time very sad reports arrived from the shtetl. A meeting was held immediately under the chairmanship of Brother Nisen Cymerman and the following officials were elected:
Abe Menzer, chairman.The following people immediately joined as members with the commitment to pay weekly dues of 10 cents:
Nelson, recording secretary.
Dovid Dresler, financial secretary.
Philip Lazarow, treasurer.
Chaim Yehuda Fox, Markowicz, Swiatlow, Lefkowicz, Morris Leser, Avraham Lazarow, Kalman Samsonowicz, Shmuel Yeshaya Szilit, Yoal Szteinholc, Philip Lazarow, Dave Dresler, Brzezinski, Willy Nachtigal, Mordekhai Meyers. Warszowski, Joe Star, Sam Pelta, Moshe Gold, Moshe Roed, Emanuel Wargon, Rozen, Abe Senzer, Nisen Cymerman, Nelson, Jay Winer, Mosher Liker.
The First Zaloshiner Ladies Auxiliary
The First Zaloshiner Ladies Auxiliary was founded on the 16th of September 1932. The founders were the Sisters: Mary Rozen, Yetty Lenczner, Sadie Senzer, Mary Lefkowicz, Ruchl Wargon, Fanny Winkler, Lizzy Sziman, Jenny Lesser, Sister Lazarow, Becky Meyers, Rachel Gold, Helen Markowicz, Rozy Meyers, Fryda Feierstone, Sadie Stone, Gussy Szilit, Dora Nightingal.
In 1945 the managing committee consisted of: ex-chairwoman Sadie Senzer, chairwoman Fanny Winkler, vice chairwoman Mary Lefkowicz, finance secretary Dody Epsztajn, finance secretary Dora Nightingal, recording secretary Dora Nightingal, treasurer Ruchl Wargon.
Managing committee members: Ruchl Gold, Lizzy Sziman, Helen Markowicz, Yetty Lenczner and Masha Zelkowicz.
Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund
In the Jewish world the city should have been named Nei-Radomko [New Radomsk]. However, it would be better to call it Young Radomsk because Radomsk near Czenstochow distinguished itself with its youthful fire, hot temperament, lust for life and enthusiasm for both old and new ideas.
Radomsk is like a suburb of Czenstochow. One sits oneself on the Warsaw-Vienna railroad and in half an hour one is in Radomsk.
There were many Nowo-Radomsker Hasidim in Czenstochow. However, there were more Czenstochower Hasidim [followers] of other movements in Radomsk. There was the entire young generation of Zionists, Poalei-Zion [Workers of Zion Marxist Socialists], S.S.-ovekes [Zionist Socialists], Fareinikte [United- Socialist Workers Party], Bundists, who were under the influence of Czenstochow.
However, many young men in Czenstochow also were influenced by Nowo-Radomsk… More accurately, by the Radomsker girls who had a good reputation for their beauty.
The well-known musician, Mikhal Gelbart, director of the Arbeter-Ring [Workman's Circle] choir, who was the director of Hazamir [a youth choir] in Radomsk, writes about the city in the Nowo-Radomsker Almanac this way:
Nowo-Radomsk belongs to the category of Jewish cities in Poland that never remained backward in any area. When the Enlightenment and, later socialism, began to penetrate the Jewish neighborhood Radomsk was one of the first where these ideas were adopted.
When the Hazimir Choir blossomed in Poland Nowo-Radomsk was one of the first to organize such a Hazimir and if Nowo-Radomsk did something, it had to be better and more far-reaching than somewhere else.
I see before my eyes the magnificent Hazimir premises with its large, beautiful concert hall and its own library a spiritual and communal home for the young.
The Hazimir possessed not only a good choir but also a dramatic section that performed dramas by Yiddish writers, such as Mitn Strom [With the Storm] by Sholem Asch. They read and discussed Yiddish literary works. They organized literary evenings.
According to the memories of Maks Szpiro about Nowo-Radomsker Hazimir in the same Almanak, the Hazimir was founded in 1909. Hazimir reached the highest boost to its development when the famous composer, Matisyahu Bensman, was hired as the director of the choir. In addition to arranging Yiddish concerts of classical and folk music, the opera, Yidn [Jews], with words by [Evegnii Nikolaevich] Chirikov and music by M. Bensman was performed in Hebrew.
Years later, at the time of the First World War, the union, Kultura, arose, thanks to Hazimir, which carried on widespread cultural activities among the young.
After his return from Eretz-Yisroel, Moshe Szwarc became an active worker for Hazimir. He would lecture and organize theatrical presentations. He also would bring his friend, Shmuel Frank, and the dramatic section from Czenstochow, which presented [Yakov] Gordin's Der Yidisher Kenig Lear [The Jewish King Lear] and other plays.
Under the Austrian Occupation During the First World War
The occupation by the Austrians during the First World War was in all respects a great deal milder than the occupation of a series of other cities by the Germans.
The economic and communal life in the city more or less stabilized. The pre-war industry had been completely paralyzed; the large furniture factories and the smaller factories ceased to operate. Therefore, new wartime sources of income developed, such as taking the necessities or other goods from one city to another. This was the main source of livelihood for the general Jewish as well as the non-Jewish population. Everyone [was involved with] trade and commerce. The true name for this was smuggling.
However, right at that time, in Radomsk, as in most cities in Poland, exciting communal and cultural activity began. The young had awakened as if from a long, lethargic sleep and with its hot Radomsk temperament threw itself at the fresh spring of life that was called culture. The poorest strata like the rich, the tailors and the shoemakers as well as the intellectuals all were influenced by the cultural storm.
The institution around which everyone grouped themselves was the famous Kultura [culture], with its library and reading room. Every evening the young invaded the library and the reading room like hungry locusts and the books were taken outside, as if Radomsk had been turned into a university city.
Rich cultural evenings with musical programs were arranged. Each cultural evening was prepared as if it was a great holiday. The leader of the Jewish bourgeois and of the worker parties in Warsaw often came to agitate for their programs and ideas. Heshl Farbsztajn, the Zionist leader, the leaders of the S.S. [Zionist Socialists], Dr. Josef Kruk and Pinya Bukshorn, the Bundist leader Vladimir Medem, the Poale-Zionist leaders, [Yakov] Zerubavel, Dua [D. Bogen] came.
Under the influence and leadership of the party center in Warsaw and also of the neighboring city, Czenstochow, the organizations of the Jewish Workers Parties in Poland formed in Radomsk. The organization of S.S. arose, later Fareinikte [united] which, following after Czenstochow, took first place in Radomsk. After them came the Poalei-Zion and the Bund. Fareinikte and the Bund led the professional unions that were created later. A consumer-cooperative was created later that was led by Fareinikte and Poalei-Zion. A workers' nursery was created, the most modern and prettiest that was created in the Jewish neighborhood. A new, great epoch of the Russian Revolution arrived that revolutionized the great majority of working masses. This was not very well liked by even the occupying regime of the dear Austrian power.
However, the war also endowed Radomsk with other events that interrupted both the cultural idyll and the struggle of the political parties.
A train of the homeless from the war front in White Russia and Lithuania arrived in Radomsk. The homeless, mainly Jews with several of their Christian neighbors, had traveled by train for several weeks until they were brought to Radomsk. The youth of Radomsk, blessed may they be, ceased their party struggles for a while, rolled up their sleeves and with the usual Radomsker fervor and enthusiasm, threw themselves into the work of giving the first assistance to the unfortunate Jewish war victims.
Young, energetic hands carried the old broken bodies of the refugees and dragged their bundles, which they had been able to save along with themselves from the war's destruction. The temporary home for them was organized in Kohn's factory. Immediately after, groups were organized to collect food, to obtain beds and everything that the homeless needed. This was not a one-time kind of work, but was on-going, daily, devoted concern, and work that was connected to the difficult struggle with the Austrian city officials. It was possible to obtain warm food and other necessities from the Jewish population, but obtaining such luxuries as sugar and coal had to be fought out with the Austrian rulers. But this, too, was done. The brilliant communal workers, Fishl Gliksman and Leyzer Bajgelman, excelled particularly in this area. Fishl Gliksman, particularly with his folksy soulfulness and humor, encouraged and cheered the spirits of the dejected homeless.
The brotherly love and friendship that Radomsk showed for the homeless evoked a warm feeling for the city and its Jews. They idolized Fishl and Leyzer. Many of the homeless later moved to America and here showed their gratitude to Radomsk through their help to and interest in our old hometown.
It should be understood that this is only a short and incomplete picture of Radomsk during the time of war.
A City of Torah and Hasidim
However, Nowo-Radomsk also had a reputation for its rabbis, pious Jews and Hasidim. The names of the most famous rabbis remain immortalized in the religious books that they created: Tiferes Shlomo [Splendid Shlomo] and Khesed L'Avraham [Kindness of Avraham]. Many folk legends are spun around them, which are transmitted from generation to generation.
The Nowo-Radomsk Hasidic rebbes had great number of followers in Poland and in Galicia. The shtetl [town] was full of them during the Days of Awe.
From the beginning of the 18th century when the Jews began to settle in Radomsk until the 1930's, the Jewish population there reached over 11,000 souls.
Trade and Craft
The trade and the crafts-work lay mostly in Jewish hands. The wide four-cornered market consisted of the nicest buildings and was like a large exhibition of Jewish businesses. Every Thursday was a market day. The peasants from the surrounding shtetlekh and villages would bring their village products to sell and to exchange for the city's goods.
Radomsk also possessed a large button factory, where many Jewish workers were employed. The owners of the factories were the well-known Fajerman family.
There was also a large cigarette paper factory there, under the name Gronis.
Jews also played a dominant role in the shoemaking, tailoring and carpentry trades.
The city had a series of professional unions established by the parties: S.S. [Zionist Socialist], P.Tz. [Paole Tzion Workers of Zion] Bund and communists.
When the workers council arose immediately after the First World War, the P.P.S. [Polska Partia Socjalistyczna Polish Socialist Party] and the N.Z.R. (Narodawy Zwiazek Robotniczy [National Union of Workers]) created a workers council without the participation of the Jewish worker. Later, one representative from each socialists faction was admitted: the only representative on the executive committee of the provisional workers committee was Hirshl Kroyze of Fareinikte.
There were six Jewish and three Polish candidates' lists during the voting for the city council in 1919. The following were elected as councilmen: three Fareinikte, three Poale Tzion, two from the artisans-Mizrakhists [religious Zionists] and Zionist list, two Shlomi Emuni Yisroel [Faithful in Israel]. The P.P.S. elected seven, N.Z.R. three, the Endekes [National Democrats an anti-Semitic party] four, the Bund and the Tseiri-Zion [Zionist youth] received up to 70 votes. One hundred sixty-five votes were required to elect a candidate. The city council, which consisted of 24 councilmen, had a socialist majority of 13 to 11.
The Religious Life
The religious Jews were also divided into various groups. On the Shabbosim [Sabbaths] and holidays, the shoemakers, tailors and other trades formed into groups in the city synagogue.
The new house of prayer was the meeting place of the middle class, quiet business owners. The bakers and retailers also prayed there. The Jewish porters had their own minyon [group of 10 or more men praying together].
Hasidic groupings, such as the Gerer, Aleksander, Rozprzer, Amshinower and others had their separate Hasidic shtiblekh [small, one-room synagogues].
The old house of prayer belonged to the Radomsker rebbe's courtyard by inheritance. The Radomsker Hasidim would come together there on Shabbosim and holidays to celebrate Hasidism. It was like this for many years. The last rebbe was Rebbe Avrhamele, the son of the Amshinower Rebbe, who married the daughter of the Radomsker Rebbe, Reb Yehezkiel. He had many followers among the retailers and artisans. He fit in with the progressive world and was very beloved in Radomsk.
The Hitler murderers cut the chain of the Radomsker Rabbinical Court with [the murder of] him.
The Destruction of Nowo-Radomsk
The destruction of the Jewish population in Nowo-Radomsk was carried out by the German-Nazi murderers in the same manner, and according to the same system, as in a series of other Jewish cities. In many cases the German murderers applied the same methods as in Czenstochow. Both cities, which were so closely connected in their lives and development, suffered the same fate in their collapse.
The innocent blood should never be forgotten. We will never forgive the murderers!
by P. Kalka
Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund
The Nowo-Radomsker Society in New York has existed for close to 50 years. The founding meeting of the first group of Nowo-Radomsker landsleit [people from the same town] took place in 1898. In the course of time, it was shown to be an important factor both in Jewish life in America itself and in the area of aid activities for our brothers and sisters on the other side of the ocean:
The Nowo-Radomsker Society was and remains an exemplary, progressive landsmanschaft [organization of people from the same town] organization in America.
From the first day of its existence, the landsmanschaft was the center where all Nowo-Radomskers came together without differentiation as to belief. Rich, middle-class people and workers belonged to the society. Many of them were American born. The atmosphere of unity and tolerant attitudes towards each other gave the society the opportunity to develop widespread activities.
The membership of the Nowo-Radomsker Society was never content with just benefits and cemetery insurance, but was always also aware of all Jewish national problems, cooperating in the implementation [of solutions to these problems] and, in general, took part in the struggle for human rights.
After the First World War, the Nowo-Radomsker Society was one of the first organizations to help the Jewish settlement in Eretz-Yisroel and voted 1,200 dollars for the purpose.
When the movement here [in America] began to create Patronats [organizations that supported Jewish political victims in 1930's Poland], which would come to the aid of victims of the militaristic-fascistic cliques in Poland the society was one of the first to create a Now0-Radomsker Patronat and to support it very generously.
The Nowo-Radomsker Society was one of the initiators and founders of the Jewish People's Committee in 1936 which, with all anti-Fascist elements here in [America], organized a series of public appearances and street demonstrations against anti-Semitism and Fascism.
The society published a very well edited Almanac of 160 pages at the 40th anniversary of the society, in 1939. The Alamanc was edited by the long time Nowo-Radomsker Society worker, Moshe Schwartz, with the help of Pinye Kalka.
The Nowo-Radomsker Almanac described the history of the society and the aid work that the Nowo-Radomsker landsleit had done in such great magnitude for their brothers in their old home city. Reports about Jewish institutions in Nowo-Radomsk and biographies of many personalities, both from the old generation and the younger generation, were published in it.
The book was received with enthusiasm by all Nowo-Radomsker landsleit and recognized by the public as a great
contribution to the rich history of the Jewish landsmanschaftn in America.
Now, after the catastrophic destruction of the Jewish population in Nowo-Radomsk, the only clear memorial for the content rich and full-blooded life of a beautiful Jewish community that was named Nowo-Radomsk, remains for the present in the Nowo-Radomsker Almanac.
30 Years of Nowo-Radomsker Relief
The Nowo-Radomsker Relief is, like a series of other institutions, a branch of the Nowo-Radomsker Society. With the greatest love and devotion, the friends and members of the society are dedicated to the work. The Nowo-Radomsker Relief had fraternally supported and helped create in Nowo-Radomsk such institutions as: Linas haTzedik [society for visiting the sick], Gemiles Khesed [interest free loan] Fund, secular children's homes and public schools, Talmud Torah Malbish Arumim [organization to clothe the needy] and a series of institutions that have eased the need of the poor Jewish population. The aid work has particularly been distinguished by the great contribution from our beloved landsman, Sol Grynberg.
At the time of the Second World War, when the news about the dreadful catastrophe of the Jewish people under the reign of the Nazi cannibals began to arrive, the aid work became much more intense. In the first year of Hitler's rule in Poland, the Nowo-Radomsker Relief sent food products in the amount of 600 dollars through Christian aid organizations. Confirmation from those to whom the packages had been mailed came for many of the sent packages. The Nowo-Radomsker Relief undertook the creation of a fund of 10,000 dollars to help the surviving brothers rebuild their ruined home. Relief made contact with the Nowo-Radomsker landsleit in the liberated nations such as France, Belgium, the Soviet Union and sent them aid through packages of food products.
A separate Orphan's Fund was created by Nowo-Radomsker Relief named for Manny Shapiro, the deeply beloved son of the devoted Relief workers Mote and Leyke Shapiro, who fell in Burma as a fighter in the American Army. His father, Mote Shapiro, on his own initiative, had undertaken to create the Fund, contributed the sum of 200 dollars and himself collected the greater part of the remaining 400 dollars.
The Relief, too, as the entire Nowo-Radomsker landsmanschaft, did not forget the children of its members who were in the American Army in all parts of the world. The Relief provided 900 dollars for packages that would be sent periodically to each one as an encouragement in the struggle against our bloody enemies and the foe of all humanity. Half of this sum that was provided for this purpose was donated by brother, Sol Grynberg.
The further sums that the Nowo-Radomsker Landsmanschaft Union and Relief donated during the war years for various purposes show the wide scope of the aid work.
Help for Nowo-Radomsk in 1939 $600 sent to the Joint [Joint Distribution Committee], Children's Fund and Matzo Fund from 1939 to 1945 - $1,200; for Russian Relief $1,000; for Eretz-Yisroel, Labor Union campaign and Histadrut $400; for Red Mogen-Dovid¸ American Red Cross and British War Relief $200.
Most recently, a Nowo-Radomsker Relief was organized in Los Angeles that sent the sum of $300 to New York and also sent $100 for the Manny Shapiro Orphan's Fund.
The Nowo-Radomsker landsleit organized two Relief organizations in Eretz-Yisroel, one in Tel Aviv and the second in Haifa. The Relief organizations in Eretz-Yisroel carry out widespread aid activities.
The Victory Committee, which during the war endeavored to sell still more war bonds, now undertook raising money for two Victory Bonds for each member's son returning from the war. Alas, six children from the Landmanschaft would not return. They fell in battle against the Nazi and Japanese enemies.
A Grynberg Loan Fund also exists with the Nowo-Radomsker landsmanschaft, where each member has the right to borrow the sum of 35 dollars. The fund gives the loans without any interest.
Society Officials in 1945
Dovid Lefkowicz President.Grynberg-Loan Fund Officals
Sam Epsztajn Ex-President.
Max Golden Vice President.
Shirley Vitrofski Finance Secretary.
Leon Ellenberg Protocol Secretary.
A. Haber Treasurer.
Mote Shapiro Hospitality
Ahron Gliksman Funeral Director
Max Itzkowicz Auditor
Trustees: S. Krauz, M. Zelkowicz, Avraham Brakman.
Chairman A. Zoberman.Relief Officials
Secretary D. Feder.
Treasurer Jack Almar.
Sol Grynberg Honorary Chairman.Relief Committee
Pinye Kalka Chairman.
Harry Szedlecki Vice Chairman.
Harry Fiszman Aid Chairman.
Chaskl Pazanowski Finance Secretary.
Jack Almer, Lou Beserman, Philip Knapf, H. B. Israel, L. Brakman, F. Frisz, A. Lefkowicz, M. Itzkowicz, M. Brader, Ahron Gliksman, Harry Oberman, Shimeon Medwedow, Sam Dikerman, Sam Ickowicz, Avraham Haber, Chaskel Rudnicki, Lou Dikerman, H. Kasoy, H. Rosztajn, Morris Szwarc, Jack Dikerman, A. Krauz, S. Szolom, Abe Soberman, Karl Ellenberg.Greetings from the Nowo-Radomsker Landsmanschaft in New York
The Nowo-Radomsker landsmanschaft gladly accepts the invitation of the neighboring Czenstochower landsmanschaft to take part in the historic book, Czenstochower Yidn that will be published by the United Czenstochower Relief Committee in New York.
This book will remain the greatest historical document of a landsmanschaft, a book of blood and tears.
This will be a valuable book for the remaining landsleit from Czenstochow and its surroundings that will spread over all parts of the world.
We, Nowo-Radomsker landsleit, will help with the work, so that the book, Czenstochower Yidn, will reach these thousands of landsleit across the entire world.
We give our warm greetings from the Nowo-Radomsker who are so close to you. We will energetically disseminate the work on behalf of the Jews here in America, and especially on behalf of the dear survivors on the other side of the ocean.
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