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[Page 501]

The Ciechanow Landsmanschaft in Detroit

Hitler's rise to power in Germany, the increased anti-Semitism in Poland, including pogroms and acts of hooligans, the appeals for aid that came from our dear ones on the other side of the ocean gave us no rest in America. The Ciechanowers also felt that something must be done for our landsleit back home.

So our people got together: Chaim Yosef Berman (Teshok), Sam Cohen (Mendl Patzier's son), Liber Berman, Isaac Glass (Khilek Shuster's son), Avraham Goldshmid, Yisroel Burshtein (Yenkl Shakhemuk's son-in-law), and decided that the Ciechanowers must organize an aid institution. The next step was to appeal to the Ciechanowers in Detroit until it became possible to organize the first gathering.

A temporary committee was established for the purpose of organizing a landsmanshaft group. There were difficulties because of the differences in the world view of our Ciechanowers in Detroit. There were amongst us extreme leftists to extreme right, and a significant number of religious Jews.

In spite of these differences in thinking, everyone began to work immediately. Such a small group as ours arranged various events such as: banquets and picnics, at which our members, men and women, worked very hard in addition to their personal donations, in order to raise more money.

Already at the first meetings the matter of aid for Ciechanow political prisoners was raised. They were in Polish prisons. For many of our members the whole matter was not understandable, particularly for those of the older generation.

We had to make our aims of our farein clear. Ours were definitely different from the activities of other similar organizations. Besides the similar activities of our landsleit on the other side of the ocean, we also carried out cultural events.

We were very fortunate in this respect. Many of our members were Yiddische yidn, nationally inclined, members of national-cultural organizations, knowledgeable about Jewish life.

[Page 502]

We took advantage of this and organized talks, lectures, current events, discussions, occasional book reviews. Those who participated in these were: Yosef Trombka, Isaac Kesler, Dovid Fuchs, Toba Dregner and her husband, Moishe Listopad, and others, young and old.

The meetings took place in private homes around dining tables. In this way the desire was established of working together and enjoying ourselves together as landsleit. The so-called loneliness, that every immigrant feels deeply, vanished. The longing for a bit of the old Ciechanow was stilled: a word, an expression, an anecdote, even a nickname – anything that reminded one of childhood years -- warmed the hearts of the Ciechanowers. All were like one large family. Automatically we became closely bonded. We invited one another to simchas and, God forbid, to other occasions…We shared our life experiences both in joy and in sorrow. ..

At the same time our members were active in other organizations: Yiddisher Kultur Farband (“IKUF'), Sholem Aleichem Folk Shule, Arbeter Ring (Workmen's' Circle), as well as in literary groups.

When war broke out our landsmanshaft-aid even accompanied the refugees to Shanghai. After the liberation, when news reached us about the khurban that the Ciechanowers, together with all the Jews of Poland had endured, we gave thousands to help the freed ones of the lagers. Our aid to Poland consisted of: parcels, food, medication, money and clothing and continued even when no other organization was still sending money there.

Our work also adjusted itself to the new conditions. When Israel became our land, the assistance was directed towards Israel. We sent money for the Gmilat Hesed Fund, Yaar Kdoshim and, more recently, for the Yizkor Book. We are also proud that we were one of the few groups who supported Israel in its War of Independence.

In summing up our landsmanshaft activities:

As soon as the need of our landsleit overseas became very great, the work progressed rapidly. The sending of parcels, letters and the contact that was established with those of our fellow Ciechanowers from back home, were instrumental in forging the landsmanshaft contact.

[Page 503]

Ciechanowers in Detroit
Executive committee Committee members
Executive committee
Committee members

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