[Page LVII English]
[Page LIX English] [Page 292 Yiddish]
by Morris Kessler and Guttel Simon
In New York there is an organization which bears the name Korelitzer Society. The organization was formed on April 4, 1904, by a group of individuals born in Korelitz, at the home of Benjamin and Golda (Rochel Ziatess) Horwitz.
Early in the twentieth century, the decrees, oppression and pogroms perpetuated against the Jews by Czarist Russia set into motion a large-scale immigration to America. The situation of Russia's Jews was very bad. Many Jews were being persecuted because of political activity - particularly the young people who belonged to revolutionary organizations. Jews living within the pale of settlement were impoverished, and the vision of golden America attracted masses of them to the New World. But when they did arrive in America, they found themselves in difficult circumstances. The native tongue was foreign to them; the customs were alien, and work in the sweatshops was hard. The entire country was then in the process of development, but jobs did not come so readily, and the pay was poor.
Depressed and confused in the tumult of New York, they clung to each other and to their friends. Most of the immigrants were men who had left their families behind in the Old World and were expected to send them sustenance, until they were able to bring them to America, and a few of them were single. Those who had relatives in America moved in with them, sleeping wherever there was room - on the floor, on a cot, and living as cheaply as possible, since every American dollar meant two rubles.
The difficult circumstances and the loneliness of the newly-arrived immigrants were bound to bring about organization into landsmannschaften, such as the Korelitzer landsmannschaft in New York. The organization was named Chevra B'nai Yitzhak-Yechiel Anshel Korelitz: a place was rented in which the Chevra established its own Synagogue. It was named for Rabbi Yitzhak-Yehiel, for many years the illustrious rabbi of Korelitz (and grandfather of the martyred Hebrew poet Yitzhak Katznelson).
The following attended the founding meeting of the Society:
Nissan Rabinowich o.b.m. (the first President); Isaac David Itzkowitz; Joseph Chessler; Gedalyahu Becker; Abraham-Samuel Shimenowitz; Yaacov-Joseph Pomerantz; Alter Shimenowitz; Leibe-Itche Kaplan; Yitzhak-Yona Itzkowitz; Tevel Hurewitz; Feivel Poluzki, and Harry Barrish.
The first aim of the Korelitzer Society was mutual aid and a sick fund. Each member paid membership dues. The income was used for various purposes - the acquisition of a cemetery plot for any Korelitzer who passed away, the rental of a hall for the semi-monthly meetings, and similar purposes.
The carpenters among the Korelitzer donated an Ark, bought a Scroll of the Torah for the Korelitzer synagogue; on Sabbaths, holidays, and even weekdays the synagogue was packed with worshippers. The synagogue was the only place where the Korelitzer met regularly. As was the custom among the Jews in Korelitz itself, Torah honors (aliyot) were apportioned. The custom was in effect for many years.
In the Second World war the situation changed completely. Many people came up from the South to New York, adding to the congestion. Living quarters became scarce. Until then the Korelitzer lived in the poorer sections of New York, and the newcomers kept penetrating more and more deeply into the Jewish sections. The large influx of the population forced a move to the surrounding towns.
The financial situation of the new immigrants began to improve, and many among the Korelitzer began moving out of New York. The meetings were not well attended.
The organization was then re-chartered under the laws of the State of New York and renamed The Korelitzer Society. The religious coloration of the society also underwent change. The meeting date was shifted from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon and the meetings were held once monthly. Since 1970 it has been meeting four times a year.
The Korelitzer Society presently numbers 150 members, of which 40 are widows.
The following are the Presidents who served the society since its formation:
Nissan Rabinowitz, Tevel Hurewitz, Gedalya Becker, Mendel Tobias, Note Levine, Feivel Poluzky, Jacob Pomerantz, Gutel Shimenowitz (Simon). Louis Simenowitz, Joseph Chessler, Harry Barrish, Meyer Itzkowitz, Joseph Mendelson, Sender Mendelson, Max Zussman, Meyer Rotkoff, Hayyim Abramowitz, Hyman Itzkowitz, the current president Morris Kessler, Moshe-Kopel Abramowitz, Louis Cohen, Isaac Geshvisky. Some also served as Vice-Presidents, and Moshe-Kopel Abramowitz also served as Protocol Secretary.
Page LXI PHOTO: A meeting of the Board of the Korelitzer Society, U.S.A.
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