Between these pages is written the history of a city. The city of Nashelsk, once a flouring community in Poland. Flourishing in all its glory like many other Polish communities that made up over three million Jewish men, women and children who lived there prior to 1939.
With the advent of the dark days of Hitlerism, the Jews in Poland were the greatest sufferers. They were marched into ghettos, concentration camps and gas chambers. Three million of our people in Poland were annihilated, gassed and slaughtered in Dachau, Treblinka, Auschwitz and other concentration camps. Our people in Nashelsk suffered the same fate.
When the Holocaust was over and Poland was liberated from the Hitler hordes, few were still alive. Among those still alive were the underground partisans that were in hiding. Some that miraculously escaped and those fortunate remnants found in concentration camps, whose almost lifeless and emaciated bodies were brought back to health.
Some of them were Nashelsker families. Among them, parents without children, children without parents. Husbands without wives, wives without husbands. Orphans without a kinship. Humans with no relation. After their liberation, they remained in camps. There was no place for them to go.
The historical rebirth of Israel into statehood in 1948, brought new life, new hope to our people. Israel opened the gates to these remnants and made them welcome. Over one hundred Nashelsker families arrived in Israel. Broken in body and soul but not in spirit. Sick, and penniless, they were ready to start life again. Ready to work, ready to help build a country, their country, the State of Israel.
This is the story of the Nashelsker Housing Project in Israel. (Told in detail in an inside article) constructed through the efforts and contributions of Nashelsker compatriots and many friends in the United States. Erected on land provided by the Jewish National Fund, by the Rassco Israel Construction Company of Tel-Aviv, with mortgages provided by the Jewish Agency in Israel. This project is situated in Kfar Ono near Teal-Aviv, on the Hills of Judea. It is known as Nachlat Nashelsk.
There, in this settlement, in Nachlat Nashelsk, one hundred families, over four hundred men, women and children will live in peace and tranquillity. Will raise their families, marry their children and bring up future generations that will be proud of their heritage, proud of our people, proud of us who made this project possible.
Between these covers is written the history of Nashelsk. Nashelsk of yesteryears. Written by those who lived there. Shedding a tear for that glorious past. Remembering in reverence those who have gone beyond.
A proud past . . .
A brighter future . . .
Nashelsk reborn on the soil of Israel . . .
May it flourish and multiply . . .
May its future be everlasting . . .
Benjamin M. Bendat
Los Angeles, California
My deepest gratitude and appreciation to all national officers, city chairmen, national executive board members, Nashelsker members throughout America and all others that are contributing towards the realization of our Housing Project Nachlat Nashelsk in Israel.
|Benjamin M. Bendat|
|Benjamin M. Bendat
Los Angeles, Calif.
Los Angeles, Calif.
B'nai Brak, Israel
|President Israel Society|
|Chairman City of Buffalo|
Los Angeles, Calif.
|Member National Board|
Los Angeles, Calif.
|Member National Board|
Petach Tikwah, Israel
|Member Israel Board|
|Abraham M. Bendat
Los Angeles, Calif.
|Member Los Angeles Soc.|
Los Angeles, California
I join with others in congratulating our Nashelker Societies everywhere on the occasion of the dedication of Nachlat Nashelsk in Israel. I am looking forward to my visit to Israel to partake in this memorable dedication.
I am very grateful for the honour and confidence bestowed upon me, by electing me as National Treasurer of this worthy project of providing homes to our Landsleit in Israel. I shall endeavour to carry out my task until our job is done. I look forward to receiving the fullest cooperation of every chairman and each contributor in every city in America
Los Angeles, California
On this historical occasion, the dedication of Nachlat Nashelsk in Israel, on March 12th, 1953, I am grateful for having had a part in our project. I am particularly thankful to those who have worked with me in the past and to those that will continue to share the burden with us until the completion of our entire project.
Benjamin M. Bendat, Los Angeles
This is the story of the Nashelsker Housing Project. Nachlat Nashelsk in Israel. Situated at Kfar Ono near the ancient biblical city of B'nai Brok, off the main highway between Tel-Aviv and Haifa, on a hillside overlooking many Israelite settlements, you will find one hundred housing units constructed by the Rassco Israel Construction Company Ltd., for Nashelsker families in Israel. Forty-eight families are residing there now. An additional fifty-two families will occupy these houses by the summer of 1953.
A new settlement of one hundred families; some four hundred men, women and children residing in new, modern homes, on many acres of land, built through the efforts of the Nashelsker Societies in America.
The task of building this Project wasn't easy. It took a lot of willpower and hard work to see the project through to this point. So first, let me take you back to the beginning to the inception of this magnificent undertaking. It dates back to the Spring of 1950. In March, 1950 a delegation left Los Angeles on a visit to Israel. While there, we made contacts with Nashelsker Landsleit. First we met with Mr. Gershon Prag in B'nai B'rak, President of the Nashelsker Society in Israel. Other small group meetings followed. One was held at the home of Mr. Hoseph Adonailo at 41, Rashi St., in Tel-Aviv. There we met with President Prag, secretary Yagoda and members of the entire board.
Advertisements were placed in all Israeli newspapers, calling all Nashelsker to attend a mass meeting in Tel-Aviv. The meeting was attended by over three hundred men and women. It was held on April 19th, 1950. Mr. Abraham M. Bendat (my father) was presiding.
I will never forget the scene I witnessed that night. Many, many people who came to this meeting had not seen each other in years. Some had not seen each other since they were taken away from the City of Nashelsk in Poland to the Warsaw ghetto. From there to various concentration camps in Germany. Not knowing each other's fate or whereabouts, they certainly never expected to meet at a Nashelsker mass meeting in Israel. They embraced each other . . . tears streaming . . . they cried for joy . . . that was a scene never to be forgotten.
These men and women came with their children. They came from Tel-Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem, Natanya and as far as Bar Sheba. They came from immigrant camps, work settlements and Kibbutzim. Traveling by bus for many hours, many of them hitch-hiked, having no funds even the few piasters for bus fare. Everyone present was given the floor to express themselves. One by one, as they came up to the platform to greet us and tell us what they needed most, we heard the same appeal: Yes they said: We are in need of more food, more clothing: yes, we could use a gemilat chesed, a free loan to give us a start. However, more than anything else, we need housing. A single room or two that we may call our own. A place of privacy for our loved ones. An opportunity for us and our families to start life anew. To become productive citizens of Israel, this was their plea. Give us a chance for self-independence, so that we may produce for ourselves and be in a position to provide for others. Right there and then, I decided to do everything within my power to provide these people with proper housing.
When my turn came to speak I proposed as follows: (The following is quoted from the minute record taken at that meeting): 1) That we must increase the relief work of all the Societies in America. 2) That all of the Nashelsker Societies in America must organize to give aid to all new Nashelsker immigrants still in camps without a home or means of work. 3) That our help shall be of a constructive nature. That we shall replant the seeds of what was formerly the Jewish community in Nashelsk, Poland on the soil of Israel. We shall build Nachlat Nashelsk in Israel. I pledged to them that before I would leave Israel, I would explore all channels and try to acquire the most suitable location. That upon my return to America, I would call a National Conference of Nashelsker compatriots and see to it that this housing project would be adopted.
After numerous meetings with Itzchak Greenbaum of the Jewish Agency and other Government officials, after a thorough investigation of the past records of the Rassco Israel Construction Co., which is wholly owned by the Jewish Agency, after visiting Kiryat Bialistok which was then under construction, and numerous other developments by Rassco, we came to the conclusion that when our project would be adopted, Rassco would built it.
Upon our return to America in August 1950, we met in New York City with representatives from New York, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Los Angeles. I presented to them our plan of Nachlat Nashelsk in Israel. At that time a mere vision, a dream for the future . . . The enthusiasm with which it was received gave me new courage; an inspiration that we would achieve it. A National Conference date was set to be held in Los Angeles, California.
The Housing Project Conference held in Los Angeles on January 1951 was a huge success. The enthusiasm of the Convention was so great that the project was unanimously adopted. The President of the Nashelsker Society in Israel, Mr. Gershon Prag, came to America to address the Conference.
A national set of officers were elected. I was elected national president, Abe Korn, national secretary, Joseph Wollis, national treasurer. The following were elected chairmen of their respective cities: Sam Klitzberg, N.Y., Louis Silverstein, Buffalo; Jack Zilbert, Cleveland; Sam Cohen, Pittsburgh; Harry Cohen, Detroit; Aaron Engel, Chicago; Max Korn, Los Angeles and Herman Hertz, San Francisco. On the National Board were elected the following: Abraham Cohen, Hymie Cohen, Sol Bloomberg, Jacob Pludo and Abraham Yagoda from New York; sam Bernhard and Max Seller from Buffalo; David Perlberg, Cleveland; E. Mellman, Pittsburgh; Samuel Raimi, Detroit; Louis Horberg, Chicago; Irving Chroman, David M. Cohen, Sam Korn, Joseph Korn and Philip Ziontz from Los Angeles and Jack Pearl from San Francisco.
During the year 1951, I made two cross country tours on behalf of our project. I was accompanied by my secretary, Abe Korn. (These tours as well as all others were made at our own expense). We visited every major city and met with Nashelsker Landsleit everywhere. Many a door was closed to us. Many were too busy to even see us. They even left town to evade us . . . . But we never lost our faith, our courage, our determination to carry on. We had a mission to carry out and we performed it to the best of our ability. We felt it was our duty to inspire them, to tell them of their responsibility to their people and to the State of Israel. We invited their active participation and assistance on behalf of our Project.
We signed a preliminary contract with Rassco Israel Corporation in March 1951, which was ratified and approved in June, 1951 for one hundred housing units. When our people in Israel received the news they were elated. They met with song and dance and rejoiced for a brighter future.
In September 1951, we held our Second National Convention in Buffalo, New York. Delegates from all cities in the United States were in attendance. They brought to the Convention several thousand dollars. It was decided to speed up the building Nachlat Nashelsk. At that convention, I and Abe Korn were re-elected National President and Secretary. Irving N. Chroman was elected National Treasurer, replacing Joseph Wollis.
David Perlberg was elected Chairman for the City of Cleveland replacing Jack Zilbert. To the National Board were added Isaac Popofsky, New York; Harry Benatovich and Harry Kullman, Buffalo; Herman J. Crown and Abe Dunn, Pittsburgh; Yeda Bass, Izzy Perlberg and Max Saltzman, Cleveland; Sam Cohen and Morris Kane, Detroit; Albert Chroman and Phil Chroman, Chicago; Mrs. Regina Goldrath, Los Angeles and Abe Finkelstein, San Francisco.
Nashelsker in Israel will long remember the month of November 1951. In that month, construction of Nachlat Nashelsk began at Kfar Ono. It was indeed an auspicious occasion. Families from all over the State of Israel came to the ground breaking ceremonies. Many dignitaries participated in these ceremonies. A parchment Memorial Scroll was buried in the ground as Gershon Prag and Israel Yagoda, President and Secretary of the Nashelker Society in Israel, turned over the first shovel of ground. Then came the responsibility of the Israel committee to select the first forty-eight families. Since more than forty-eight families were in immediate need of housing, the first forty-eight had to be selected by lot and number. The others reluctantly had to wait.
In the summer of 1952, I made another cross country tour accompanied by David M. Cohen, Treasurer of the Los Angeles Society. (This tour was also made at our own expense). Again, we visited Nashelsker families in every major city in America. We told them of the need to continue our project. That we dare not stop until the entire project of one hundred units is completed. That we would commit the greatest crime upon our people in Israel if our pledge to them was not fulfilled.
Our plea across the country resulted in the unanimous adoption by all delegates present at our Third National Convention, held in the Sherman Hotel in the city of Chicago in September 1952, for the immediate construction of an additional fifty-two housing units. The following were added to our National Board: Samuel Raimi, Chairman for Detroit; Harry Tashman, Chairman for New Haven; Gustavo Rothstein, Chairman for Buenos Aires, Argentina; Sam Bass on the National Board from New York; I.L. Rose, Los Angeles and Joe Zelken, Chicago. Mr. Mendel Engel came from Israel to address the Chicago convention.
In December 1952, we signed a contract with Rassco Israel Corp., with Mr. Isaac Imber and Noah A. Ben Tovim, their representatives, for the immediate construction of these fifty-two units. Today, these buildings are already under construction. We anticipate their completion and occupancy in the summer of 1953.
I personally have been irritated, humiliated and insulted by many of our Landsleit. I feel that I have been used and abused.
I know that I have neglected my own family and my business on account of this project. I know that I have been cross; that I had many a sleepless night, on account of this project. I also know that I gave to this project everything within me, my full and complete undivided attention.
I am proud, justifiably proud. Proud that I was able to withstand the empty and uncalled for criticisms of the do nothing and pessimists. Proud that I had the wisdom to carry on when at times it seemed impossible. I am very proud of my National co-workers; my secretary and treasurer. Proud of City Chairmen like Sam Klitzberg and Sol Bloomberg in New York; Louis Silverstein in Buffalo and Sam Cohen in Pittsburgh. I am extremely proud of individual contributors who have contributed a unit or more, like Sam Bass and Mark Rothstein in New York, Benatovich Bros., Kullman, Levine, Silverstein and Seller in Buffalo. Herman J. Crown, the Mellman's, Cohen and Dunn in Pittsburg. The Perlberg's, Saltzman's, the Bass family and the Zilbert's in Cleveland. The Cohen's, Raimi's and Kane in Detroit. The Chroman's and Engel in Chicago. Max Korn, Harry Goldrath, Abe Korn, Irving N. Chroman, David M. Cohen, Joseph Korn, I.L. Rose and Same Hertz in San Francisco. Harry Tashman in New Haven, Conn., and Gustavo Rothstein in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I am also proud of each and every contributor who has contributed a single brick to the building of Nachlat Nashelsk.
I am especially proud that our total expenditures since the inception of this project has been less than five hundred dollars. Moneys collected for the project were never used for expenses.
The delegation that is soon leaving for Israel to participate in the dedication ceremonies of Nachlat Nashelsk, I know, will be as proud as I will be of our achievement. All of us will long remember the date of March 12th, 1953.
The over-all Project will cost in excess of half a million dollars. One hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars to be raised in America for the purchase of critical building materials. This money to be paid to the Rassco Construction Co. Long-term mortgages are being arranged in Israel with the cooperation of the Jewish Agency.
So that there be no misconception, I must state that there are fewer than three hundred Nashelsker members throughout the United States. Many thousands of dollars were contributed by non-Nashelskers. Many more thousands of dollars have yet to be raised to complete our Project. It is practically impossible for Nashelsker Landsleit to carry this Project on by themselves. It, therefore, becomes necessary to solicit outside help. What an opportunity there is for many people to contribute. Knowing full well that they are giving for someone which will provide him with independence. That will give him his home, his castle for his family. Ample ground for a small garden, freedom of mind after all his persecutions. Anyone ever visiting Israel will be proud to see Nachlat Nashelsk; point with pride as one of the contributors will say: this is it, I helped to build it. Nachlat Nashelsk, a prospering community in Israel.
Every contributor of a unit has a right to designate in whose name it shall be built. A permanent plaque is attached to the unit with the name of the contributor. All who contribute one hundred dollars or over, their names will be inscribed upon the walls of the Community Centre of Nachlat Nashelsk in Israel. A famous Israeli artist has been engaged to draw sketches of a suitable monument to be erected in the square of Nachlat Nashelsk in memory of those who have perished as martyrs under the tragic Hitler era . . .
It is my fondest wish, my fervent hope and constant prayer, that God give us strength, that we continue to do good for others. That we may provide this project with a nursery building, kindergarten, synagogue, community building and recreational facilities. I hope that soon we may interest some American industrialist to establish a plant at Nachlat Nashelsk. To provide employment to our people so that Nachlat Nashelsk will become a prospering community and a shining example for future generations.
Other Landsmanshafter Societies can follow our example. Here is a Project that will give new life, new impetus, new ambition to all Societies to carry on. A challenge to its membership for a constructive undertaking. An undertaking that will revitalize its activity on behalf of their people and the State of Israel. It will do for other Societies what it did for the Nashelsker Society. A shot in the arm . . . a new start . . . a reason for existence.
Benjamin M. Bendat,
Abe Korn, National Secretary
The first National Nashelsker Convention, held in Los Angeles in January 1951, Adopted a resolution that I and Benjamin M. Bendat, our National Chairman, should make a cross country tour. We should visit every major city for the purpose of organizing Nashelsker Groups that would support our Housing Project in Israel.
Our first stop was the City of Chicago. The beginning of February, we arrived there on a frosty day with below zero weather. A meeting arranged at the home of Morris Nathan attended by many Nashelsker Families resulted in raising the sum of one thousand dollars. Our next stop was the city of Detroit, a city in which we expected to be received with open arms. A city in which reside many wealthy Nashelsker families, big business people. some of them whom I considered as my personal friends. Many of them were active in the City of Nashelsk before they came to this country. Here we thought our task would be easy. On arrival, we found that they were too busy to see us, or even talk to us. Some refused to answer their telephones. As soon as they found out the purpose of our visit, they left word with their servant: If Bendat or Korn calls, tell them that we are gone and can't be reached . Still, we managed to meet at the home of a fine individual, Harry Cohen. We left Detroit with a solemn pledge that they would try to organize and help in our project.
From there we went to Cleveland. At a meeting at Jack Zilbert's home, our Nashelsker looked at us as visionary dreamers. They said to us: it is very nice if you can do it. They contributed several hundred dollars and wished us success. Our next stop was the City of Pittsburg. There we found a most royal welcome. People with warm hearts. At a meeting at the home of Sam Cohen, we raised several thousand dollars. Mr. Mellman and Mr. Dunn promised us continuous co-operation in our project. We left Pittsburgh with a renewed spirit.
From there we went to Buffalo, the city of a man most active in our Society since 1937 the home of Louis Silverstein. He called our Nashelsker to a meeting. We met at the home of Harry Benatovich. At rather a large gathering, we presented our plan of building homes for Nashelsker in Israel. Somehow, when I and Bendat finished our presentation, the place became deathly still as though we were in a morgue a sudden coldness no one dared to speak or even ask a question For the moment we thought that possibly these people were overtaken with emotion. To our amazement we found out that most of the people present weren't on speaking terms with each other Before we left Buffalo, we not only raised over a thousand dollars; we made peace among the Nashelsker families. We formed an organization and left with a pledge for continued support.
Our last stop was New York. Unfortunately, because of the extreme cold weather and much aggravation, Bendat, our National Chairman, took sick upon our arrival in New York. Several meetings were held at his bedside at Jack Pludo's home with the entire New York committee. Upon my shoulders was the task to convince the New York group that our project is realistic. That, with their help, our project could be realized. After many meetings and lengthy discussions, it was decided to enter a contract with Rassco. A preliminary contract was drawn up and signed with Rassco's representative in New York in March, 1951. A contract for the construction of one hundred housing units. Forty-eight immediately and fifty-two at a later date. One hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars to be paid by us here in America, the remainder on long term mortgages in Israel.
Today, I am happy to tell the story of our first Cross Country Tour on behalf of our project. Today it is history, water over the bridge. Much has changed since then. Today, Nashelsker in every community are contributing to our work. Forty-eight families are already residing in our Israel project, known as: Nachlat Nashelsk, and the other fifty-two units are now under construction. I am indeed very grateful to all who contributed up to now and to those who will contribute in the future.
I and my wife Ruth are looking forward to our visit to Israel. We consider it a great honour to have the opportunity of participating in the dedication of our Nachlat Nashelsk in Israel on March 12th, 1953.
A unit costs $1,350.00
|Mr. & Mrs. Sam Bass, Newark, New Jersey||1 unit|
|Mr. & Mrs. Mark Rothstein, New York, N.Y.||1 unit|
|Mr. & Mrs. Max Seller, Buffalo, N.Y.||1 unit|
|Mr. & Mrs. Harry Levine, Buffalo, N.Y.||1 unit|
|Perlberg Bros., Cleveland, Ohio||1 unit|
|Saltzman Bros., Cleveland Ohio||1 unit|
|Mr. & Mrs. Harry Cohen, Detroit. Mich.||1 unit|
|Mr. & Mrs. Samuel Raimi, Detroit. Mich.||1 unit|
|Mr. & Mrs. M. Starkstein, Detroit. Mich.||1 unit|
|Mr. & Mrs. Aaron Engel, Chicago. Ill.||1 unit|
|Mr. & Mrs. H. Tashman, New Haven, Conn.||1 unit|
|Mr. & Mrs. I.L. Rose, Los Angeles, Ca.||1 unit|
|Mr. & Mrs. Sam Korn, Los Angeles. Ca.||1 unit|
|The Family of Abraham Cohen, N.Y.||1/2 unit|
|Mr. & Mrs. Sam Cohen, Detroit. Mich.||1/2 unit|
|Mr. & Mrs. Charles Cohen, Detroit. Mich.||1/2 unit|
|Mr. & Mrs. Morris Kane, Detroit. Mich.|
|Mr. & Mrs. Albert Chroman, Chicago, Ill.||1/2 unit|
|Mr. & Mrs. Phillip Chroman, Chicago. Ill.||1/2 unit|
|Mr. Hymie Weitzman, Chicago, Ill.||1 unit|
|Mr. Gustavo Rothstein, Buenos Aires, Arg.||1 unit|
|Mr. & Mrs. Benjamin M. Bendat, Los Angeles||2 units|
|Mr. & Mrs. Herman J. Crown, Margate, New Jersey||2 units|
|Mr. & Mrs. Louis Silverstein, Buffalo, N.Y.||1 unit|
|Mr. & Mrs. Harry Kullman, Bufallo, N.Y.||1 unit|
|Benatovich Bros., Buffalo, New York||1 unit|
|The Melman Family, Pittsburgh, Pa.||1 unit|
|Saltzman Bros., Cleveland, Ohio||1 unit|
|The Bass Family, Cleveland, Ohio||1 unit|
|Mr. & Mrs. Herman Hertz, Oakland, Calif.||1 unit|
|Mr. & Mrs. David M. Cohen, Los Angeles. Ca.||1 unit|
|Mr. & Mrs. Harry Goldrath, Los Angeles, Ca.||1 unit|
|Mr. & Mrs. Max Korn, Los Angeles, Ca.||1 unit|
|Mr. & Mrs. Abe Korn, Los Angeles, Ca.||1 unit|
|Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Korn, Los Angeles, Ca.||1 unit|
|Mr. Irving N. Chroman, Los Angeles, Ca.||1 unit|
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