Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund
The charitable activities of the Goniadzer in America began approximately 50 years ago. As Avraham Warshah of Detroit reports, in 1908 the Goniadzer in America collected the sum of 600 dollars and sent this to Goniadz in order to found a loan and savings fund. They sent the money to the rabbi and according to the Russian rate of exchange it amounted to 1,200 rubles. The rabbi and the business owners chose Pinkhas, the rabbi's son, as treasurer and director.
Many remember how Goniadzer Jews would go to borrow money without interest. The bankl [small bank], that is what we called it, existed until the First World War.
The old Goniadzer in America also cared for their landsleit [people from the same town] in Goniadz. Immediately after the First World War, when no bank or post office accepted any money for Poland, the Goniadzer and Trestiner Young Men's Society sent out a special delegate, Doctor Blum, to personally bring the money for the poor
[Meirim Rubin, see photo on page 237]
and for relatives. When normal times returned and the Polish currency stabilized, the first Goniadzer emigrants, Benyamin the soyfer [scribe] and his children, came here.
Benyamin went to the old Goniadzer who were members of the Goniadzer synagogue on Ridge Street in New York to ask that they tax themselves for the poor people in Goniadz for matzo for Passover. Meanwhile, they asked him to lay out his own hundred dollars. The hundred was not returned But the young Goniadzer who joined the Goniadzer and Trestiner Young Men's Society gave their 200 dollars so that it became a tradition with the young Goniadzer of the Young Men's Society on every eve of Passover to send three hundred dollars for Goniadz and three
First row from the right: Zeidl Fidronski, Mishkovski, (son-in-law of Chaim Kopelman), Yehezkiel Perets Tshedniak, Miltshon, Leizer Sodorovitsh.
Second row: Moshe Furman, Zelig Nievadovski, Volf Piekodski, Dr. Blum, Chaim Kopelman, Efriam Halperin, Jakov Rubin, Beilach, Avraham Gelbard, Ezrial Hauptman.
Third row: Treshtshanski, Josl Oltanicki, Leyzer Trachimovski, Jakov Yevreyski, Chana (?).
Fourth row: Yehoshaya Tsviklic, Eli-Hirsh Niyevodovski
hundred dollars for Trestina [Trzcianne]. The tradition continues today; they give this sum to the Goniadzer Aid Committee and also to the Trestiner Aid Committee every year.
In 1927 the Goniadzer Ladies Auxiliary in New York, with the help of the Goniadzer and Trestiner Society, decided to build a school with instruction in Hebrew and Yiddish on the synagogue hill and the building was completed over several years. They also supported the school, paying tuition monies to the teachers, clothing and lunches without cost for the poor children.
The school existed until the Nazi destruction.
A group of 15 young people was arrested in Goniadz in 1938 because they had the courage to hit back the Gentiles who incited and beat the Goniadzer Jews.
The Polish police did not arrest the Gentiles and arrested the Jews and sent them to the Bialystok jail. The arrestees' parents turned to us in New York; we should collect money for a good lawyer (advocate), in order to free their children.
The Goniadzer and Trestiner Society contributed 25 dollars and a sum of 150 dollars was assembled and sent by telegraph.
Benyamin the scribe, may he rest in peace, excelled in the aid work, which was his own initiative. In addition to money he also collected used clothing and shoes, made packages and sent them to poor people and poor brides.
From 1920 to 1939 he alone sent 1,400 dollars and 150 packages of clothing.
On erev [eve of] Rosh Hashanah, Benyamin would go to the Goniadzer beis-olem (cemetery) to recite the El Male Rakhamim [God full of compassion prayer for the deceased]. He also would go to weddings to collect money and he would send this money to the Goniadzer poor.
Once, when we, all of his daughters and sons-in-law, were at a wedding and sat at one table, he stood up and went to collect donations from the Goniadzer landsleit.
His devoted wife also worked with him fully in making the packages.
I commented to him that it wasn't nice to ask for donations at a wedding. He answered: You need to understand, I collected 35 dollars. Seven poor families will have income for a week from the 35 dollars. Are they worth less than my honor?
In 1946 when the Goniadzers in New York learned about the Jewish destruction, the idea arose to create an aid committee on a great scale that would not only consist of the Goniadzers who belonged to the Young Men's Society, but also the Goniadzer Ladies Auxilary in New York and also all Goniadzers who did not belong to the Society, as well as those from all cities in America, New York, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Montreal and so on.
Benyamin the scribe gave us the addresses of many Goniadzers in America, Canada and South Africa.
At that time we did not know anything about who among the Goniadzers had survived.
Moshe Malazowski received the only message from his neighbor's son who was in the American army in Germany. He met a sick man in a camp who asked about Mosheke Malazowski from Goniadz. This was Zeydka (the son of Notka the farmer) Altshuler. Moshe immediately wrote a letter to him and immediately received an answer. He asked us to
find his relatives who were here in New York.
We learned from Benyamin the scribe that Notka the farmer came from Lomza. We found the address of Zeydka's relatives from the Lomza Society. We went to them immediately and told them the news that their relative had survived. But they received us very coldly; we realized that we could not rely on them and we immediately sent a food package to Germany.
Meanwhile, Zeydka found other Goniadzer who had survived and we immediately sent food packages to them.
The committee decided to hold a memorial evening in the Bialystoker Center in November 1946 that was announced in the newspapers. Two Goniadzer refugees (Hershl Beker married in Goniadz and the second one, a Sztucziner, a relative of the Szilewskis) unexpectedly came to the memorial evening.
When they described to us what had happened to our dear parents, relatives and friends, there was not one person who did not shed tears.
One thousand eight hundred dollars was donated at the memorial evening.
At that time we learned of another 10 Goniadzer refugees who were in German camps.
After the evening our committee was enlarged. Josef (Mendele's son) Bobrowski, may he rest in peace, our dear, beloved Goniadzer, of Norfolk, Connecticut, joined and became vice chairman. In a short time we had the addresses of 20 refugees.
We appreciate all of the devoted, noble work of Moshe Bachrach for writing letters of comfort to all of the Goniadzer refugees
and his sincere wife, Chaya, for preparing clothing and food packages. The writer of these lines helped them greatly in buying, packing and sending the packages from the first day after the founding of the committee. We would go through the stores with a child's wagon, buying food and clothing, make packages and send them by mail to Germany.
In 1947 Goniadzer refugees from Soviet Russia arrived. We also adopted Goniadzer grandchildren.
We once called a meeting at Louis Goldberg's office. Gedelia Seid, Josef Mendels , Moshe Bachrach and the writer of these lines came to the meeting.
Moshe declared that we had no money in the fund for packages, which we would send every three weeks for 300 dollars. Josef said to Gedelia: You write a check for 150 dollars and I will do the same thing. It should be mentioned that Josef and Gedelia had earlier donated 200 dollars at the memorial evening.
At that time we would assemble about 4,000 dollars a year from the Goniadzer landsleit. We would immediately distribute it among the refugees.
In time the Goniadzer Aid Committees were created in Detroit Avraham Warshah, chairman, Max Szwarc, may he rest in peace, secretary, Elihu Gradman, treasurer; Chicago Moshe Gelbord (Dokler), chairman, Golda Hoyrst-Rubin, secretary, Moshe Tikocki (son of Josl Szmeker), treaurer; Los Angeles Meir Farber, (Shlomo Moshe Shmeun's son), chairman, Mrs. Raye Salomon (Yenta Ruchl's daughter), secretary, Morris Forman (Moshe'ke Nekhema's son), treasurer; Montreal Max Bayer, chairman and treasurer, Mrs. Ruchl Bayer (Leyzer's wife) and Mrs. Finczun, treasurers.
Sitting, from the right: 1. Avraham Warshah (son of Yona'khe), chairman; 2. Mrs. Sadie Winer, chairwoman; 3. Hyman Winer (son of Chona Benyamin), member.
Standing: 1. Abe Szwarc (son of Avraham'l Alter), member; 2. Eli Grodman (son of Elya Khaske), treasurer
Standing (from right to left): 1. Leo Majnkes, vice chairman; 2. Morris Gelbord (Moshe'ke Dokler), chairman; 3. Morris Tokor, treasurer.
Sitting: 1. Nemy Monarkh, (daughter of Chaim Welwl, the dyer), member; 2. Perl Rapoport, recording secretary; 3. Golda Rubin-Hoyrst , secretary
When Moshe arrived in Los Angeles, the committee unanimously elected the writer of these lines as secretary.
During Moshe's departure in February 1949, the sum of 10,000 dollars was collected. Up to now we have collected the sum of 30,000 dollars.
In time all of our refugees left Germany. Several of them came to America, others to Australia. The majority of them settled in the Land of Israel.
The refugees who made aliyah [immigrated] to Israel still needed our support.
In the course of 10 years of the existence of our aid committee, we gave support at the time and in the place, first in Germany, Austria and now in Israel.
The aid committee in the Land of Israel is led by our friends Dovid Bachman, Fishel Yitzhaki, Chatskl Perets Czerniak and Sura Rajgradski-Brkai. Our support for the landsleit in Israel is always sent according to their recommendations.
When Mr. and Mrs. Gedelia Seid visited Israel in 1950, the Goniadzer in Israel arranged a meeting for them. A loan fund was founded then with
the purpose of helping our Goniadzer in Israel.
The fund exists with success until today.
At the same time each year we send certain sums of money from America especially for the loan fund. At the same time the Goniadzer in Israel asked that we in America create a yizkor [memorial] book in memory of our shtetl. Their plan for this book pleased us. Mr. and Mrs. Gedelia Seid and Josef Bobrowski promised their help and cooperation.
To our great sadness, Josef Bobrowski and Gedelia Seid were prematurely torn from us. I did not give up our plan to create the book and with the help of our chairwoman, Mrs. Sarah Seid, who provided me great effort as well as contributions over the course of four years, we succeeded in collecting the necessary sums for the yizkor book.
Our committee still has a great responsibility after the publication of our book. We will try every means to distribute it among all Goniadzer on the American continent, as well as among Jewish libraries, so that our dear home city will be immortalized in Jewish history.
1. This probably is referring to Josef, the son of Mendel, as in Josef (Mendele's son) above. Return
2. The name is given as Hoyrst-Rubin on a previous page. Return
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