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[Page 73]

The Rozhishch Society in Canada

Dr. David Monson

 

Only a few Rozhishchers live in Canada, however, their active committee has managed to bring together a considerable number of members, many from other Polish towns. The Canadian organization is named after the late Harry Odwak, of blessed memory, who was one of the first to found the committee.

Every year this committee organizes a memorial service for their dear ones, and they regularly send us sums of money and maintain close contact with us, being active partners in the implementation of all our programs. Sol Miller is the chairman of the committee. He and his wife, Ilana visit us in Israel every year and remain with us for a few months. Sol is a member of the editorial board for this book and participates in all our activities.

Mire'le and Mendel Shames devote all their strength and energy to the organization in Canada and to the excellent ties with the Israel organization. We will have more to say about them later.

Sonia and Louis Berger, of Sarnia, Ontario, were among the first to enthusiastically support the idea of the purchase of Beth Rozhishch. They headed the Building Committee, and when their son Leonard (Lozer) reached Bar Mitzva age, they contributed all the gift money he received for the occasion to the building fund.

This was the largest single contribution we received. They also influenced other Rozhishchers to contribute to this cause. Beth Rozhishch remembers them with appreciation for this great deed and has inscribed them on the Honour Roll.

Reb Mayer Matel's and his children.
Of the entire family, only Sol and Ben Miller of Canada survived

 

[Page 74]

Sol Miller, Mire I and Mendel Shames at a memorial service for Rozhishch victims, in Canada

 

Seymour Zuckerman is one of the active members of the Canadian committee, and it was at his home that the committee was first organized.

The Canadian committee has attracted a most interesting personality to its activities in the person of Rabbi Dr. David Monson. Dr. Monson is known in the United States and Canada as an enthusiastic Zionist and a warmhearted Jew. He is involved in Hebrew education, is active in working for the Keren Kayemeth, the Histadruth and for Aliya to Israel. He also participates in interfaith activities. Our friends in the Canadian committee appreciate him as a great personality and are proud of his interest in their small organization and grateful for the help which he extends to them. He attends every memorial service and has even visited Beth Rozhishch. We, in Israel, also regard him highly.

 

Mirel

Mire'le Shames is the living spirit of the Canadian organization. Her energy, devotion and love for humanity in general, and of Rozhishchers in particular, all of whom she regards as her family, have inspired members in the United States, in Brazil and in Israel to activity and achievements well worthy of note.

The first contact we in Israel had with Mire'le and Mendel was when the president of our organization met them in the winter of 1956 in Salt Lake City. At that time they were still not on their Sol Miller, Mire I and Mendel Shames feet economically, but they really wanted to “do something” great

A group of Rozhishchers in Canada 1960

 

[Page 75]

Sonia (Grabarski) Berger

 

and distinguished for the sake of the living and in memory of the loved ones who had perished in the Holocaust. Our president, Avner Rachmieli, was infected with their enthusiasm.

When they told him that this “something” should be done and that they would give the Israeli organization as much as they required, he knew that here were people who could be relied on. And indeed, this was exactly what he told a group of friends, including Baruch Rosen, Shike Widra and Ziske Kromirs at Bob Gellerstein's home in New York. It was there that it was suggested that the “something” be Beth Rozhishch. They promised help for the purchase of the house, for the provident society and for the publication of this memorial book.

Later, when our chairman visited Brazil, a group of Rozhishchers met at the home of Motel Weisberg, and there a committee was formed, which also promised to support the program.

On his return to Israel, he submitted the program to the committee of that time, headed by our dear friend, Leah Gavish. The idea was enthusiastically received, and it was decided to start working towards its realization. The plan was also made known in Argentina, where Haim Feffer worked towards its realization.

Each year the Canadian committee, regularly, sends us the sum of money promised. In recent years, they have even taken to holding the memorial service in Mire'le and Mendel's home in order to save expenses. This committee has contributed the kitchen equipment for Beth Rozhishch, in memory of Sonia Miller, of blessed memory.

When Mire'le first visited Israel, she found the kitchen empty of all dishes, glasses, cutlery and the like. One day she arrived at Beth Rozhishch, tired but satisfied. She had spent the day running around the shops, and had brought all this equipment to Beth Rozhishch.

She and Mendei initiated the laying of the memorial tablet at Har Zion. They also arranged the special bus trip there for its dedication. This was an experience in itself.

Both she and Mendel have taken an interest in this book and have taken part, as members of the editorial committee, in the determining of its principles, as well as having written interesting and important articles for it. Their share in all our achievements is really significant. It would be difficult to imagine our organization without Mire'le.

Mendel, her husband, is at her side in all her activities, and the two of them do everything together. Mendel loves every Rozhishcher, wherever he may be. He remembers every detail of the town. Mire'le and Mendel were enthusiastically received on both their visits to Israel, as everybody loves them. A visit from Mire'le and Mendel Shames is a real treat for the hundreds of our members.

 

Leonard Berger, son of Louis and Sonia Berger, Sarnia, Ontario, who donated all his Bar Mitzvah gifts to the purchase of Beth Rozhishch

 

[Page 76]

Rozhishch Society in Brazil

Bispó D'Oliveira

 

When our chairman visited his brothers m Rio de Janeiro in 1957, he also visited Sao Paulo to meet with most of the Rozhishchers living there and in the adjoining city of Santo Andre.

The Brazilian committee was organized at the home of our dear friend, Motel Weisberg. It was headed by Golda Shevtz (Wollek), Motel Weisberg and Mendel Wollek. This committee has sent us sums of money to aid in our activities and in the acquisition of Beth Rozhishch. They often visit Israel. Golda has written an article for this book and has sent us some important photographs.

The Rozhishchers in Santo Andre have their own synagogue. They have become friendly with the local bishop, Dom Jorge Marcos de Oliveira, who is an interesting personality. It is his custom to come to the Synagogue on Yom Kippur and on Independence Day and to shake hands with everyone. His good friend, Idel Weisberg, brought him with him on a visit to Israel, and we held a reception in his honour at Beth Rozhishch.

The Bishop expressed his wonder at what he had seen in the country, and his deep love for the Bible and the Jewish people. He was very impressed with the Beth Rozhishch facilities, and noted the energy and devotion of a small group of people originating in a small town who had set up a proud institution in the centre of Tel Aviv, of which even a much larger and more influential group could be proud.

 

Rozhishch Society in Argentina

There are only a few Rozhishchers in Argentina. Haim Feffer maintains contact with us. A few years ago he sent us financial assistance (in the name of the Lutzk and Environs committee in Argentina) and we have received pictures and articles from him for this book. He and his wife have visited Israel twice and on each occasion they met with us for consultations in connection with our activities.

 

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