by Rozze Dvoretzky, New York
Translated by Esther Libby Raichman
I joined the ladies' organisation in 1927, arriving from our dear little town of Stoibtz, young and full of life. Although I was already a member of the men's society, when I heard that there was a women's society called The Stoibtz Ladies Aid Society, I was drawn to it. As soon as I became a member, they took me in, embraced me, and drew me into their hearts, like good mothers. We gather for meetings every two weeks. Membership fee 4 dollars a year.
The aim of the organisation was to help fellow immigrants from our town, by visiting the sick, expressing empathy in times of sadness, sharing pain and joy.
In those times, there were strikes and unemployment, and there was no shortage of hardship, even in affluent America. We used to provide families with milk, butter and eggs, for those who were in need. We would provide families with enough coal to heat their homes for the whole winter, also adding a few dollars. There were occasions when we would run to the hospital every week, to take small sums of money to a lady from our town, which lay there, poor thing, without feet. We brought her a small cart and also bought her a bed in the same hospital, so that we could devote more time to her.
We also had a Gemillut Chesed society, where a member could borrow money without guarantors and without interest.
We raised all this money by selling raffle booklets, from theatre events, balls and picnics, where we women, would sell snacks, homemade cooked and baked food. We sent parcels to soldiers of fellow townsfolk from Stoibtz who served in the army in the Second World War.
The best and finest way, that we were able to explain, and that helped us to express our concern on a practical level, was on the festivals, particularly on Chanukah, Purim and Pesach. At that time, before Pesach, and also now, we always organised a package party, where each lady brings a few nicely wrapped little packages. These packages are auctioned, and the same women who brought them, buy them. Sometimes the parcel is not worth more than 50 cents, for which the ladies happily pay a few dollars, knowing that the money goes for the Wheat Fund.
Years pass and times change, we have insurance, married children, grandchildren, life is easier and there are fewer poor people. With the establishment of the State of Israel, other undertakings manifest themselves. We change direction in other ways: we support our fellow townsfolk in Israel, also HIAS, Histadrut, United Jewish Appeal, Israel Bonds, Magen David Adom, a home for the aged, an orphanage, a home for children with incurable illnesses, a hospital for consumptive old rabbis, and more and more. We never have much money. If we have more we help more. We also had an Englishspeaking branch of Stoibtz women. After some years of good work for fellow townsfolk, it was decided to combine the two branches. The President was Beatrice Tunik, Dr. Isidore Tunik's wife. They provided many years of good work for the people of Stoibtz.
We still exist now, the women are getting older, and no new ones are joining. The thought that very soon, such a beautiful institution will fall apart, is agonising. I am fortunate that fate has destined that I, born
in America, raised in Stoibtz, returned with a legacy from our mothers, grandmothers and aunts, who are no longer here with us, have helped to bring a smile, a word of comfort and provided the needy with the most necessary items.
I thank all the women who worked, and are still working, to make our Stoibtz Women's Society, great and productive.
How proud we are of the curtain over the ark in the synagogue of our fellow townsfolk in Israel, in the name of our beloved sister Pauline Cohen, may she rest in peace.
In the name of all the Stoibtz women in America, accept our blessings with warm greetings to all our fellow townsfolk everywhere. Our only wish is that we should come together in good health, in our own land, in the State of Israel.
by Betzalel Baskin Buenos Aires
Translated by Esther Libby Raichman
In 1924, a Stoibtz Committee was established in Argentina, with the aim of helping needy people who originated from Stoibtz. At that time, a diverse group of individuals immigrated to Argentina who were mostly nonartisans and were unable to find work easily, so the Stoibtz fellow townsfolk decided to help the new immigrants. A Committee was then formed that began to collect membership fees from its members, to create a fund that would enable them to assist needy immigrants from Stoibtz.
In later years, of its own accord, the Committee ceased to exist.
In the terrible days of the Second World War, when contact with their old home was broken, everyone who had been a resident of Stoibtz was devastated from pain, sorrow and worry about the fate of their relatives and families in Stoibtz. Hitler's genocide shocked the people from Stoibtz who were living in Argentina.
In 1944, the first tragic letters arrived from the Land of Israel, informing that only a small handful of Stoibtz residents survived and a few made their way to Israel. A committee was immediately established to assist them, and we promptly sent money, and parcels of clothing and food. Later the first survivors came to us Hirshl Tunik (son of Feige, daughter of AvrahamItze) with his two sons Fyve and Leibe. They told us the real news, what Hitler had done to our town, to our fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters. Then our activities to help our brothers and sisters in Israel became more intense.
In 1952, we had the honour of meeting our respected, great, fellow countryman, Zalman Shazar who was the Minister for Education in Israel at that time. We organised a festive welcome for him of all the people of the towns of Stoibtz, Mir and Rubzevicz, in Argentina. He brought warm
|Zalman Shazar on a governmental mission to Argentina,
at a meeting with people from Stoibtz, Mir and Rubzevicz
greetings from Israel, its growth and creativity, as well as from the residents of Stoibtz in Israel.
|The Committee in Argentina|
We gave our honoured guest a small gift as a memento a wristwatch with a bracelet of pure gold that he should wear and use until he reaches the age of one hundred and twenty.
He, who speaks now as President of Israel, has elevated our dignity and the dignity of the State of Israel throughout the whole world. We, the people of Stoibtz in Argentina, solemnly observe the anniversary of the death of our martyrs on the 12th Tishrei every year.
In addition, we also celebrate Yom Ha'atzmaut every year, the great miracle of the establishment of our State that is so dear to us. We hope that we too, will be able to come and settle in our State of Israel.
|The Family of Moshe Baskin
His wife Lande and daughter Manne, Moshe Baskin, Sheindl Baskin, Chaye and Yisroel Prushtzitzky, Yosef Barishansky, Bebbe Baskin, Isaac Baskin, Chashke Baskin (Malke's)
The following articles were published in a single edition under the name The Stoibtz Mirror, New York, January 1930, issued on the 30th anniversary of the Stoibtz organisation in America.
The articles highlight the social life of the eastern European immigrants, particularly at the beginning of the 20th century. The articles are printed as they were spoken as Yiddish was spoken and written by Stoibtz immigrants in America.
by Harris Malbin, President
Translated by Esther Libby Raichman
Thirty years have passed since the organisation was created by the people from Stoibtz, for the people of Stoibtz.
In 1899, during the intermediate days of the festival of Sukkot, a few fellow townsfolk gathered at the home of our brother Morris Hayman I don't remember the number of the house, but I remember that it was in Forsyth Street. They created such a good society for us, so I will introduce each of them by name: Morris Hayman, Benjamin Ruditzky, Karl Hayman, Sam Tunik, Sam Zasulsky, Louis Segal and Max Nyfeld; there were a couple of others but this is not the place to mention them now, as they are no longer with us. The society that bears the name Independent Stoibtz Benevolent Association was founded on that same evening.
The first declaration was that the name should never be changed and should exist eternally. The founders put together a couple of dollars and sent it to a lawyer to create a charter. In the meantime, until the charter was complete, the founders met in the shop of brother Benjamin Ruditzky every week and searched for ways to draw in fellow townsfolk as members. As soon as the charter arrived on 25th December, the founders took to the task of creating membership, with greater enthusiasm.
It is easy to talk, but it is not as easy to do. When we approached fellow townsfolk to become members, many of them would answer that a Stoibtz society would never exist and our fellow townsfolk did not rush to join.
The founders, however, were not discouraged. They continued their work, and quite often, at every weekly meeting, one or two members joined. In that first year the society already had a membership of 28. Today, imagine how large and rich their treasury was, that they bought the Washington cemetery. As the fellow townsfolk realised that the establishment of the Stoibtz society, was a serious matter, it did not take long, before the society began to grow in numbers and in wealth.
Look now, at what a proud and strong society we have! A considerable treasury, a large number of members, may their numbers grow, and everything that a society needs; but what is most important of all, is that among our brothers there is love, unity and solidarity and the desire to help the destitute, when they are in need, paying sick benefits on time, and giving gifts when the beneficiary is deserving! We have rules for everything, but if we have to help someone outside of the rules, we do that too. We have many brethren that we have rescued from the hand of the angel of death, and they are now with us. For us, the rich and the poor are equal. The place of honour is not given to the rich man, but to the good worker, who works for the society.
Worthy founders! You never dreamt that you would create such a mighty, influential and noble society that we are today. We marvel at the great work that you did for the Stoibtz community in America. We cannot repay you with money for such work, but thank you, we must!
I do not know how to thank you, but on behalf of the 500 members and their wives and children, that means about 3000 souls, we wish that, just as your venture is crowned with success, and as your society grows and thrives, may you all, our founders, thrive together with us; we will always be proud of you and may we all live to celebrate a 50th anniversary, and not one of us should be absent and I will again, write a song of praise to you our brethren, and to you, our founders.
The Independent Stoibtz Benevolent Association lives!
by Sam Tunik
Translated by Esther Libby Raichman
It is difficult for me to gather all my memories and write about the history of our society because various events, images, scenes and pictures, float before my eyes, tangled in my mind, confusing the ideas, as if asking that all the facts be written down, all the occurrences, from the first day of our founding, to this day. I feel it is an honour that it has become my fate to write the biography of our society, and being the first secretary, I am familiar with the entire past of our society, so I will try to gather all the material and all the occurrences, and write them down in all their detail, as far as it is, at all possible.
I must, at the outset explain, that I was the one that brought about the founding of our society, and here our history begins.
I came to America from our birth town as an 18yearold young man, young and strong and very healthy. My birthplace was a poor town, but a happy one, a lively one, without millions, without people of great wealth, but abundant in nature's riches, with huge forests encircled by aromatic fields; and the rye and the wheat, as one walked in the Zadvorye forest or the Artshiche forest where we went as soon as we were freed from cheder, and the Sinyavve forest, where we would later go and socialise with girls. There were also the large gardens with green cucumbers, broad bean pods, and pea pods, poppy seed and sunflower seeds that provided sufficient work for us, the young boys. And our dear Niemen River, the taste of whose water, I still feel in my bones; when bathing in our Niemen River, it seemed as if I was bathing in the Tigris River that flows from heaven, where Adam and Eve once bathed. The wooden cups and iron pots, and the ferry operator Timyan, with the ferry and now, falling from a little corner blessed by God, into a new world, with new people, different types, foreign ideas, where a brother is not a brother, a relative is not a relative, and a friend is not a friend; one understands this oldnew, help yourself world, with a background of Rashi and annotations to the Talmud. It is in our interests, not to expect anything from anyone a new immigrant must make his own way in life, and the more you toil, suffer and drudge, the sooner you will reach your goal; and afterwards you will be thankful that a fellow townsman did you a favour and began to teach you a trade, that he treated you worse than a young lad apprenticed to a tailor or a shoemaker at home, in your birth town a couple of weeks working without pay, and then a dollar or two. And food? Never mind, a new immigrant must suffer, and we really did suffer, very much so! This was the reception of the new immigrant 35 years ago.
In these circumstances we slaved away, until each one, some better and some worse, made his way in life. This is the way the world takes its course. We married, built our nests, organised our homes, some wealthier and some poorer, but one has to belong somewhere and where if not here, in the Stoibtz society that had already existed for many years; but they always quarrelled. They had had a beautiful synagogue with a large membership and could not share the honour of being president everyone had his following, and if one party managed to say ‘yes’, the other party said ‘no’. In any case, when we young, people used to come to the synagogue, and patronised it well by donating 10 dollars per verse from attah her'ayta , that was nothing. This was repeated a few times because there were not enough verses, yet we were regarded as youngsters, boys, and loafers. We were seldom befriended. It is possible that the synagogue was controlled mostly by those who were not from Stoibtz, like Modamsky, Kishelof, Aginsky and others.
Anyhow, I proposed joining the ‘Association of Brethren of the People of Stoibtz’, and a committee came to visit me: brother Shlayme Chaim Bernshtein and brother Abraham Finkelshtein and we had a pleasant time. Before leaving, they told me that I would receive a letter to come to the next meeting, and that I should attend. I did not receive any letter, but my brother Abraham Tunik told me that I had been rejected because a member had informed the committee that he himself saw me smoking a cigarette in public. This was not the reason, but rather because I was proposed by someone on an opposing side, so I remained outside of the camp. I was not the only one proposed that evening, others were also rejected.
A commotion then began among them. My brother spoke out for me, Louis Segal spoke out for his brotherinlaw and many more, everybody was enraged we must establish a society.
Sometime later, during the intermediate days of Sukkot, my brother A. Tunik, told me to come to Morris Hayman's house at 43 Forsyth Street, on the next Sabbath, to establish a society. I arrived on time, and found that the following people were already there: Max Nyfeld (Motte Yashke Ronyes), Karl Hayman, Morris Hayman, Sam Zasulsky (son of Shaul Yankel, the carpenter), Benjamin Ruditzky, Volf Berkovicz (son of Velvl Avraham, son of Leib), Louis Segal (son of Tevl Chaim Yankel son of Zavvel), his brother Yashe, Hayman Vineshtein (son of Chaim Fraydele),
Sam Tunik, Abraham Kaplan (Avremmel Boruch, son of the carpenter), Max Smith, Shmuel Eli Cohen, may he rest in peace, and Morris Silvershtein 14 in total.
Brother Ruditzky opened the inaugural meeting and emphasised that the existing society did not accept any young people, and in order to see that the young people do not go to some unrelated society, we should rather establish our own society of the people of Stoibtz, for the people of Stoibtz, without a synagogue, because we do not want to compete with the old members. And this was our first program not to get involved in religious or political matters.
Brother Karl Hayman demanded that each one should donate a dollar, and these were immediately collected, and we already had the vast sum of 14 dollars and named the society The Independent Stoibtz Benevolent Association and the foundations were laid.
Brother Ruditzky proposed that, as we were still too small and poor to rent a room, he would give us his shop as a meeting place, as often as we wanted, until our affairs were settled. His proposal was accepted, and everyone committed themselves to work tirelessly to bring as many fellow townsfolk to the next meeting, on the following Saturday night at 181 Ludlow Street.
At the next meeting we already had 29 in attendance, the shop was fitted out with tables and benches, half a galuntshik was standing by with biscuits and sponge cake that sister Ruditzky (daughter of Sorke, daughter of Gelye) had prepared. There was a lively atmosphere, people drank a toast, and wished each other and our new society, good luck.
Brother Ruditzky opened the meeting, brother Hayman collected a dollar from each person, nominations were invited for office bearers, and brother Sam Zasulsky was elected as finance secretary, Sam Tunik protocol secretary and Karl Hayman as treasurer. The election for the position of president, was postponed until the next meeting, the chairman ordered that books be purchased, and postcards be sent for the next meeting, two weeks later. I went to Canal Street, bought a rubber stamp, stamped the postcards, and by the next meeting we already had all the necessary details.
Until the next meeting, we the young people were silent because we had not previously belonged to any society, with the exception of brother Ruditzky who had already been president of the Stoibtz synagogue, a few times. The rest had belonged to the previous society and were now our leaders.
By the third meeting, we were in a very elated mood. We already had brother S. Perlman, brother Morris Henkin, and brother Harris Malbin with us. For the first time we opened a meeting with the reading of a protocol, an income of 38 dollars and an expenditure of 5.65 dollars for books and a stamp. We debated the position of president and we decided that we should not have a president, because if it would be a burden, we did not want to impose it on one person and if it is an honour, we did not want to grant it to one person, either. The main reason was because of the experience that we had with the previous group we decided that we should not bicker over the position of president, and secondly, we wanted to be in control ourselves. We decided to order a seal, to seal all our documents, to order a charter and then a committee was appointed: brother Karl Hayman, brother B. Ruditzky and brother Hyman Vineshtein, who are our charter members to this day. A board of directors was elected to lead the society and work out rules and regulations.
This was the first meeting that we amused ourselves in a fraternal way. Brother Sam Perlman, brother M. Henkin and Karl Hayman, and a few others became publicity agents. When asking people to join our society, no fellow townsman was omitted; we went, we travelled, some joined, others, mostly of middle age, would ridicule us such rascals want to lead a government? In more than a couple of months, you will not exist. This did not deter us from continuing our work, each one pushed the other forward, urged them on, brother Perlman would canvass during the day he had a store, and Henkin and I, completed our day's employment, came and took Sholem, and left. Oh, Gittel took offence; Kaydy also took offence and Silli too.
This is how we worked tirelessly, until we had more than 40 members. We began to mutter, brothers began to demand that we should rent our own meeting room, yet, we must say, to brother Ruditzky's credit, that we were very well treated at all times; he made beverages specially for us, in the oven, free snacks … but crawling up five small steps with the smell of sauerkraut and pickled cucumbers (downstairs was a shop that sold marinated pickles) did not appeal. Neither did the moisture from the walls, nor wiping the chairs from the dust of the oven, so as not to dirty the Sabbath underwear, because if this was not done, one would be soiled like those bewitched. To this brother Ruditzky said: it is
true, but for our existence it is more necessary to buy burial ground first and then rent a meeting room. Brother Karl Hayman, A. Tunik, S. Tunik and Louis Segal also agreed, on the basis that we have middleaged members, and a society without a cemetery is like a house without foundations. We, the young people, were almost all indifferent to buying cemetery land. All that interested us was membership, and as the members did not want to go to the shop, we wanted a meeting room. Yet, we conceded. A committee was appointed with full authority to buy cemetery land and already at the next meeting; the committee reported that they purchased five plots at the Washington cemetery, at $85 dollars per plot.
As mentioned above, the majority of those who were still very young took very little interest in this matter. We had not held meetings in the shop for a long time. On 1st May 1900, we moved into the New Henry Hall, at 69 Henry Street.
A new epoch began there for us. New members streamed in, and we finally took over the entire command. We were free, independent, bright, neat, our own four walls and we already had our own generals, our own colonels and enough soldiers to manage our meetings. The board of directors passed laws for the organisation and when these laws were accepted, they were strictly carried out. Our comradeship and solidarity were admirable, our meetings were interesting and amusing and our devotion to the society, knew no bounds. If we proposed a candidate and he was unsuitable, it could possibly be his own brother, but the truth was told. I cannot imagine now, how this happened, but that is how it was. Everything went well.
As we already had cemetery ground, we now wanted a burial society. At the end of the summer, we had a consecration of the cemetery ground and provided refreshments. This gave us an income of a couple of hundred dollars, so we appointed a committee to order a fence.
We did not meet in Henry Street for very long because the hall became too small, so we moved to 200 East Broadway, above Malbin's restaurant. Here we were already firmly established and consolidated. We already had a theatre benefit event and made money. Secretaries changed. Brother Morris Henkin became finance secretary and brother Abraham Tunik protocol secretary, all the time without pay. We were already paying shivah and sick benefits but seldom did anyone receive it from us these benefits were handed over to the Gemillut Chesed that we established, that was permitted to lend 5 dollars. (In those times it was the equivalent of half a month's rent, and for many a whole month's rent). The days crawled, years flew by and we were still busy, very busy. We bought a Torah scroll for the burial society and placed it in the Stoibtz synagogue, as we wanted to have our own, in case we would need it. It cost us the handsome sum of a couple of hundred dollars. Meetings began to slow down and were less frequented. We terminated the position of chairman and introduced the position of president instead, hoping that perhaps it would help. Brother Perlman was elected as the first president, but it did not help. We had enough money, enough members but attendance declined. The entire burden fell on the score of members who stood at the rudder the whole time, to this day. This continued until the time of the war of 1914, when the activities of the members flared up again, to raise money for our town of Stoibtz. Again, we ran, travelled, collected money and sent funds with one of our delegates, brother Joe Hayman, who was travelling to Stoibtz. Again, we collected and sent funds to Stoibtz with another delegate, brother Morris Henkin. The two delegates allocated 15,000 dollars.
From then onwards our society was in a progressive situation, every year even more so. Our Gemillut Chesed instead of 5 dollars, was now loaning 100 dollars; sick and shivah money loans were increased from 5 to 10 dollars a week, subsidies from 15 dollars to 100 dollars and more; endowments from $1.50 per head, now 500 dollars, insured by the endowments fund for 25,000 dollars; starting with the 5 plots at Washington cemetery, we now have 19 plots on Mount Carmel and 57 plots at Baron Hirsh cemetery free and clear; and 40,000 dollars in the treasury.
Let us hope that we will live to see our 50th anniversary and that our association will grow and progress.
by Dr. Zeyfert
Translated by Esther Libby Raichman
In a beautiful valley, bounded by green, aromatic fields, surrounded by huge, thick forests close to a beautiful, calm, historic river lay a lovely, small town our native home. Our birthplace. Our little town Stoibtz.
What an enchanting place Stoibtz! What an enchanting word. How swiftly my heart beats when I consider, through the telescope of time and distance, the little town where I lived and enjoyed the sweetest years. What contentment and spiritual pleasure we dwell in, in those moments when we see the scenes of times past that the good angel painted for us in our memories, in which we delight, and in which we live once more, through the years that are gone.
What a true, sincere and spiritual pleasure it is, to see oneself in those sweet reminiscences of where we lived, where we thought, where we loved, and where we enjoyed, in the times that are no longer here.
It is night calm and leisurely flows the Niemen and reflects the full moon that hovers over the town and casts a silver light over the roofs of the houses. The inhabitants are immersed in deep sleep and dreaming of trade, of work, of communal matters, and the moon hovers over the blueish sky and moves still further away. The stars become paler and disappear, the shadows become longer somewhere near the yellow church, a cock crows and the day begins to dawn.
A croak can be heard a Jew appears with his prayer shawl and phylacteries under his arm he is rubbing his eyes and yawns, looks up at the sky and walks to the synagogue. Jews are emerging from all the streets, young and old, with their packages under their arms, hurrying to the same place. The day is becoming lighter, and life is beginning to pulsate the wagon drivers are hurrying to the train, the bakers are setting up their stalls and cursing the youth who knocked the stalls down overnight the shops are opening the farmers from the surrounding villages are arriving, and the market place is bustling with buyers and merchants and the young boys are running to the cheder with their packages under their arms.
On Friday after noon a tumult a rush boys and girls are running, Jewish men and women the whole town is running all running to a specific point where the sounds of musical instruments can be heard; and a few klezmer musicians actually come out into the market place. Shmuel Chashe, son of Bryne, leads the small group of musicians and does a lampampam on his trumpet. A few old women dance in front of them, a bridal couple and their inlaws are walking to the synagogue courtyard the wedding ceremony is over and the couple are being escorted home Tevele comes towards them with two full buckets of water and the inlaws throw copper coins into the water.
The sun goes down, it becomes a little darker, and there are less people in the market place. The shops are closing, welldressed young boys are running to the synagogue courtyard, through the windows, the burning candles can be seen, and the familiar tune of women reciting the blessing for the candles; Jews with red faces just out of the public baths, dressed up for the Sabbath, are making their way to the synagogue, from whence Noach the tailor's L'chu N'ranana will soon be heard.
The synagogue was packed on the Sabbath. Leibe the scribe was selling aliyot in his singing voice ten guilden eleven guilden twelve guilden and the Stoibtz Jews buy and pay later.
On the Sabbath after the main meal, the householders are lying on their beds, their stomachs filled with tsholent, snoring quite heartily, the little boys get together in the courtyards and play, the older boys take a walk in the fields mostly with the girls in the forests, with a little cigarette hidden in their sleeves, the town is quiet peace rules over all the Divine Presence rests over her. Suddenly, there was yelling, a clamour, windows cracking, cursing in Yiddish and Russian, a fight, tearing down fences and beating with sticks on heads. Avraham, son of Ette, is fighting with a couple of wagon drivers. People take sides and Shachne Perletzky's BinyaminChaim gets involved, butchers and carpenters, and it becomes a general war, rages for a time, and ends with a state of exhaustion in the tavern of Shmerl son of Nechame Ette.
Sunday! the market is crowded with wagons and people and merchants. The taverns do good business. Peasants go in, come out, stagger, roll down from the balcony and remain lying in the mud. It is noisy and loud, people are buying and selling, they swear and curse, and use obscene language about their mothers, and they creep in the filth, over their knees.
Food! Food for sale! shouts Peshe, daughter of Avremel, son of Shayne Liebe.
Can you see?
Food! Can you see the potatoes? asks Manye, daughter of Shayne daughter of Miltze.
A forty groshen coin? I will go.
Zishke, daughter of Shashe, son of Devorah, and Frayde, daughter of Avraham Leib, sit at little tables and exchange money.
A young woman is pouring her heart out to a gentile woman Gone Hetzke, you know, my husband that peasant! chapun sarak ruv. Gone, further than Minsk, than Pinsk, or OldSwerznie or tsharti matri. May he have an epileptic fit. God Almighty! And the young gentile woman nods in agreement.
Suddenly, a stampede! a pig grabbed a potato from Berke, the son of Henne's stall and the whole town is running to retrieve it.
There is a commotion from the mud swamp Yabbis is flogging a couple of drunken gentiles there.
In Chantze's tavern, the peasants are making a pogrom, and Shmuel and Sorke have a hard time throwing out the drunken gentiles.
And the town teems with people, the little town lives and trades, does good business and amuses itself.
In America in the Forverts newspaper a meeting of ‘The Independent Stoibtz Benevolent Association’ I see familiar faces here, a little older, but I recognise them. The same Stoibtz people more intimate, more blended I see here workers, business people, doctors, lawyers, real estate people, and simply prosperous ones. Committees have been established, lecturers have been brought in, debates are held, negotiations, reflections, and money is given, and still more money. The poor and the sick, the unemployed and the destitute, are helped. Money is paid out for hospitals, for homes, and for similar institutions. Moreover, they do not forget our birthplace, our home, our little town of Stoibtz God's blessings upon all our people of Stoibtz.
by H. Lempert
Translated by Esther Libby Raichman
This happened 38 years ago, when I was 10 years old.
It happened near the Niemen our beautiful Stoibtz river, where we boys used to bathe when the Rabbis would release us, to allow us to cool off a little, on the hot days of Tammuz.
I call this an incident but actually, nothing happened. The town was not shaken up, in fact nobody in the town knew that anything had happened, except for a few boys, friends, who attended the same cheder. And they, the couple of friends, did not regard this as an extraordinary event at that time; these boys are now all in America and members of our beloved Independent Stoibtz Benevolent Society, and have probably long forgotten the incident that took place on a Thursday morning, at the ferry on the Niemen.
It was a hot day in the month of Tammuz, on a Thursday morning at around 10am.
We boys were already sitting around the large table in the cheder of Shimon our Rabbi and teacher and waiting for him to come from the synagogue and begin to teach us. He, it appears, came late.
A while later the Rabbi arrived, Reb Shimon with his tallit and tefillin under his arm. He came into the house slowly, pensive, as if sinful. He put the tallit bag on a shelf that hung near an empty dresser, looking as if he had committed an offence, and then he looked at Itke Frume, his wife.
Nu? asked Itke Frume, a thin woman, did you receive something? It is Thursday and we need flour for the Sabbath.
Shimon gestured with his hand a sign that he had not.
Itke Frume turned sadly away from him and began to fuss over a pot standing on a cold tripod.
The Rabbi approached the table, threw a glance at the boys, sat at the head of the table as he did every day, opened a chumash closed it again and went to Itke Frume and asked her something quietly, with a compassionate expression on his face. Nothing, Itke Frume answered angrily. Not even a potato? Shimon asked, this time a little louder no.
Shimon again approached the long table, observed the boys again, his eyes were half dimmed, his lips were dry, and his face was like parchment. He thought for a while and said: do you know what boys go to the Niemen and bathe. I must go and see some community leaders but come back in an hour's time rascals; I will flog whoever comes late.
It did not take five minutes before we were all at the ferry. Undressing did not take long, a shirt and a pair of trousers; boys in Stoibtz did not wear underpants. I do not remember if adults wore underpants, but they
probably did because I would sometimes hear them call someone: a hero in underpants.
Mayshl the son of Rishke, or as we know him here, Mr. Morris Henkin, winked at a few of our boys indicating that we should not undress. What he meant was, the five of us, who were friends, and always together: Hillel son of Yashe the commissioner, his brother Hirshl, my brother David and me.
Children we are going to eat blintzes he said quietly, as the other boys let themselves into the river.
Hillel Nyfeld, a small boy, calm, just as he is today, shook his head. That meant that we would eat blintzes.
We, the five friends, went a little to one side and hid under a ‘boat’ so that we would not be seen. Mayshl took out a silver quarter from a pocket in his arba kanfot and said: Chaim, run quickly to Shmerl the son of Nechame Ette, and buy blintzes for a quarter. Take ones that are hot and browned and come back quickly or they will be cold. We are waiting for you.
I do not recall where Shmerl, the son of Nechame Ette sold blintzes then, whether at the market or in a side street, but I do remember that I flew like an arrow from a bow, to buy the blintzes. While I was running, my mouth was watering, and I was speculating, how many blintzes does Shmerl give for a quarter and what will be my share.
It did not take long and I was running back with the blintzes, wrapped in three papers, hot, browned and fried in butter….
When I turned into Rumov Lane, near the old synagogue, with the precious package in both hands I suddenly heard the Rabbi's voice: rascal, what is your hurry? Where is the fire, where? Where is your town, where? Is that how you study with me, you rascal!?
Shimon the Rabbi was standing opposite me, his lips still dry and his face pale.
What are you carrying in the package? He asks ostensibly strict, but in a weak voice. Then, for the first time, a thought entered my head that the Rabbi had not eaten yet, he is simply hungry, that is why he looked so weak.
I hated the Rabbi, out of fear, because Shimon was by nature a hard man. He did not spare a smack, a tug at an ear, or a lashing with a cane. If a boy turned his head away, Shimon would grab the tallest boy by the ear and twist it, and here Shimon would even overstep the mark as well. Immediately after he gave a boy a thrashing, Shimon would mumble: a hernia, a hernia, spontaneously, because that is what the children would quietly call him, when he thrashed them. For this reason, we boys hated him even more.
But then, when he was standing next to me, in Rumov Lane, with his pale face and his dry lips, something touched my heart, and showing him the hot, fat blintzes, I said: Rabbi, take a blintze, never mind, there is enough.
Rabbi Shimon did not wait long enough to be asked again with two fingers he took a blintze. He then apparently considered whether it was worth eating; he murmured with his lips that mean, he said a blessing, and bit off half a blintze. He looked at the second half, flicked his head and said to me, nu? That meant that he invited me to eat with him.
Eat Rabbi, eat, I will not be late. I held the package open with both hands and Shimon swallowed one blintze after another, and each time he said to me, nu? That meant that I should eat too.
I however, lost my appetite. In my little mind, a question was burning: what do I tell Mayshl and Hillel? I will tell them that the Rabbi ate them all.
It did not take long, and the blintzes disappeared.
When the Rabbi was satisfied, he asked: Whose blintzes were you carrying Chaimke? I told him.
Shimon trembled with fear. He did not want to quarrel with Mayshl and Hillel because Mayshl sometimes brought him a little tobacco from his mother's shop and sometimes a quarter sugar. On occasion, Hillel brought the Rabbi's wife raisins or a small number of prunes that he would steal from his father's cellar he did not want to be on bad terms with them. Chaimke, Shimon said softly, do not tell, who ate the blintzes. I will not tell, Rabbi, I promised him.
Now Chaimke, ‘rise to the task’ and call the boys to come into the cheder, he said affectionately, but he added angrily, whoever does not come, I will thrash.
Now I went slowly, I no longer ran, as before.
I went and thought, in spite of everything, what does one say to Mayshl? I will not ‘implicate’ the Rabbi. I now felt such pity for him. He was not the same Rabbi at all it was another such a good one, such a dear one.
No, I will not divulge, I will take it upon myself I ate them, enough. If Mayshl slaps me a couple of times, I'll take it, but implicate the Rabbi no.
And so, thinking about the matter, I slowly approached my friends who were waiting for me near the ferry.
Where are the blintzes? asked Mayshl the son of Rishke.
Gone, I said.
What does ‘gone’ mean? asked Hillel, did Shmerl not sell them?
He did sell them, I answered.
He ate them up on the way, shouted Mayshl, angrily. Even my own brother David was angry.
Didn't eat them up. I implore you. I swear on my share of the world to come, that I did not eat them.
So, where are the blintzes? they all shouted together.
I won't tell.
We'll throw you into the Niemen, Mayshl threatened. You must tell us what you did with the blintzes.
You can go and ask Shmerl, son of Nechame Ette, I implored them. Don't go, I bought blintzes for you but now they are no longer here. What became of them, I do not want to disclose.
The few slaps that my cousin Mayshl gave me, did not help. He pretended to take me to the Niemen to drown me but it did not help at all. I did not talk.
We all went back to cheder. They left me behind. They did not speak to me. My friends became angry with me.
If my friends were a little older then and had more understanding they would have wondered why the Rabbi suddenly, became so good to me and would call me Chaimke instead of Chamruk. And if they would have been more observant, and they would then have seen how the Rabbi was holding his stomach the whole day, and ran to the pit a few times … but they were too young and did not understand this.
This true childhood story happened 38 years ago. I kept it a secret for the entire 38 years and thought that I would never reveal it, but today, for the 30th anniversary of our beloved Stoibtz Society, I decided that now I can reveal it.
by Nachum Rozowsky
Translated by Esther Libby Raichman
I remember that when I was 6 years old, I was already an orphan; and when I turned 8, my bedroom was now on the oven that is where I slept. As an inheritance, my father, may he rest in peace, left us a large thick prayer book for the High Holy days, and a good pen and an inkwell, two large boxes of engagement and wedding certificates and an axe. My brother took the good pen and the prayer book, the two boxes with the certificates and the inkwell were burnt in the fire, and the axe remained for me.
My mother, may she rest in peace, was also, not left poor. She possessed eight sacks of flour and a wig for the Sabbath, and a shawl for the weekdays, and for a certain reason, she remained with Toibe Rychel's knife for cutting hair, and a bonnet, that she used from early in the morning, to cover her hair; and two basins, one for milk and one for meat, a pair of bowls and two cooking spoons one wooden with grooves on each side, and one metal; and a jug reinforced with wire, and a rod, and a fork for putting things in the oven, and a tripod.
My mother loved me very dearly because I was her youngest child and she regarded me as being clever.
And it came to pass, one day, it was a Friday and I was sitting on the large bench next to the table, and I imagined that I was sitting in Hertzke's hall. The dirt of the whole week was no longer on the floor as my sister had scoured it with a shovel and had spread yellow sand over it that I had brought from the Priest's mountain. The candlesticks had already been polished and were standing on the table. The windows were hung with drapes made of cigarette paper with all kinds of scraps, and the tsholent and the wired jug were already in the oven. The oven was closed with a latch that was covered with wet cloths all around it, and one could smell a delicious warm breath of air from the oven, and the potatoes in the tsholent were already cooking. I put on my padded kapotte and the cap with the crown and went to the synagogue to hear the cantor from Chomsk as he sang Hashkivayni. It gave me much pleasure. I came home, finished reciting Shalom Aleichem, and I enjoyed myself, very much, ate a good meal at the table and went to sleep, but as I stood on the wooden stool so that I would be able to climb up on to the oven, I noticed that I had nothing with which to make my bed because
the oven was very hot. My mother, may she rest in peace, noticed that I was standing and thinking so she said to me: why are you not lying down to sleep? So, I said to her: the oven is very hot and I do not have anything to put underneath, on the side, so she said to me: listen my son, I have eight sacks that am not using, so I am giving them to you, my son, as a gift five sacks to put under the side and three sacks at the head. When the oven was not hot, I would steal one sack at my head and cover myself with it.
And it came to pass, one night, it was a Thursday and I was sleeping so comfortably and I was dreaming that the bath house was on fire and I saw that our fire brigade commando, composed of famous names like, Stoikele and Dannes, and Printziv the blind one, and Fabyan, were standing with fire equipment and were working at putting out the fire; and the fire was taking its own course because the Stoibtz fire brigade consisted of only two hooks and a cask of water and one fire hose; and by the time they were brought to the fire, half the town had already burned down. And I saw how Yedidyah ran through the streets shouting, its burning, and Isser Binyamin the son of Leib ran into the streets of the gentiles and shouted ‘Fire, Fire’ and Tevele, the clumsy Sabbath oaf, and the Sabbath tututu is sitting with Leizer Moshe at Zishe Brynness place, outside, on the stone bench, each holding a cake in their hands and singing mi dralitta, zataboy. The policeman saw that I was standing and doing nothing, so he started shouting at me: tsho ti, duren, tshomo ti ni prinneshess vodu. So, I went to look for a bucket. On the way, I saw that the whole of Stoibtz was burning and I started shouting in a choking voice: ‘why are you all standing like fools’? As I was screaming, I woke up. I looked and saw that Stoibtz was not burning at all, only the side of my bed was burning so I proceeded to save myself. I removed the two sacks at my head and the sack that I used to cover myself and put them under the side, but it was still burning.
I had to get up and went to examine from whence this unfortunate occurrence was originating. And I looked my sister was standing at the oven baking pancakes and had put 10 thick logs of wood into the oven and ignited them. The fire began to rise higher and higher until my sacks began to burn.
by Dr. Zeyfert
Translated by Esther Libby Raichman
A little town, of beauty, with marsh not so scant
With houses, a deity, a market and a river.
With good shops and inns, a mikveh not so clean
And the rich, who were not rich at all
A tall synagogue, that was old, and within always cold.
And the house of study was there close by
And a river where boats are built
And a workshop, with many artisans
And Fabyan is still carrying yellow sand.
ChaimItshe is fond of Purim and boys beat Haman Purim.
And Berke bakes bread and Challah
Women bake, make taiglach, the birds are hung on Shavuot,
Bryne Zlatte Minne's becomes a bride
And the town goes on and on, and the people laugh and are happy
Greet every guest and welcome them.
Everyone is of course, rich as Croesus bringing guests along
Because in any case, there is no food.
And the days run by, flying, and the years glide by, pass,
A sweet dream when I blink,
Translated by Esther Libby Raichman
The Stoibtz fellowtownsfolk, members of the Association of Brethren of the People of Stoibtz have decided after lengthy deliberation, to disband their society that had recently reached 60 years of existence.
In the history of hundreds of small societies, of fellowtownsfolk in America, the people of Stoibtz will have written their own beautiful chapter.
The organisation was founded in 1891. In the course of the 6 decades of its existence, it is difficult to find a Jewish charitable cause, in which the people of Stoibtz did not participate, and contribute generously. When an organisation like this, decides to close its books and its doors, and say that it no longer exists, it would still be interesting to catch a glimpse of the closure of a Jewish organisation after 60 years that the people of Stoibtz decided to dissolve in a particularly fine manner. It is therefore worth taking an interest in the decline of this fellowtownsfolk association.
After the people of Stoibtz recognised that it was finally time for them to give up their society, they decided to send the four remaining Torah scrolls to their fellowtownsfolk in Israel where they had organised themselves as the Benevolent Society of the People of Stoibtz in TelAviv. This they will do, together with the United Stoibtz Postwar Relief Committee that is a branch of the larger organisation called The Independent Stoibtz Benevolent Association.
One of the last two remaining members of the society came to the editorial offices of the Forverts, and related the dramatic history of its existence, and of the dissolution of the society.
|From right: Avraham Burg, Ya'akov, Irving and Aza Stotz, Irving Kumak of blessed memory, Karl Hayman of blessed memory|
Mr. Karl Hayman of 209 East 165th Street, Bronx, was born in the town of Stoibtz, in the former Minsk province. He has been in America for approximately 60 years and has been a member of the society for 58 years. Although he is a man of 82 today, he is still in the best of health and is in the plastics business together with his sons. For the past 40 years, he has been active among the people of Stoibtz, as the trustee of the Chevrah Kaddishah.
In recent years, it became more and more evident that there was almost no one for whom the society needed to exist, said Mr. Hayman. In the Association of Brethren of the People of Stoibtz, there remained of late, only eight men and a few widows. There was no one left to hold a meeting, so finally we agreed, and resolved to close the doors of the society.
As small as the organisation was, it nevertheless still managed to gather some wealth during its best years. Aside from the four Torah scrolls that remained in the little synagogue of the people of Stoibtz, there was still approximately $5000 in cash and after 120 years, when the last members will be laid to rest in the cemetery of the society, 18 burial plots, will still remain. Mr. Hayman is now anxious to see that besides the four Torah scrolls, the society should also send at least $2,500 to Israel to build a house for Stoibtz fellowtowns folk.
The eight founders of the Stoibtz society 60 years ago were: Shmuel Tunik the father of descendants who were later eminent among the Jewish intelligentsia here. The other founders were: Morris Smith, Nathan Price, David Russak, Harry Brooks, Berel and Benjamin Ruditzky, and Avraham Berman.
The largest organisation, the Independent Stoibtz Benevolent Association, that actually consists mostly of American born members, of Stoibtz parents, is an organisation with 370 members, among whom, are 90 widows. The chairman of the relief committee of the organisation, Mr. Irving Kumak, was of considerable help in sending the Torah scrolls to TelAviv.
by Mordechai Machtey
Translated by Esther Libby Raichman
|Reb Yosef Yeshayahu Cohen|
He came to Stoibtz as an adult and loved it, and until his last days, even from afar, he thought about it and worried about it. He was born in the town of Mir, in approximately 1842. On his father's side, he belonged to the Shach family (the writer of the commentary Shiftay Cohen on Yoreh Day'a). At the age of 5 he was orphaned when his father died at a young age. Together with his young sister, my mother of blessed memory, he went to live with his grandfather, the father of his father. They grew up with their grandparents until they were adults and raised a family. Yosef received a traditional education as was acceptable in those days in the cheder and the Yeshiva. He was required to go over the weekly Torah portion and the Haftorah every Friday afternoon. This already introduced him to the world of the Bible, and he was greatly influenced until, parallel to study of the Talmud and literature on Halachik questions, he began to devote time to the study of the Bible and related to it wholeheartedly.
When the time came, he married the daughter of Avraham Inzelbuch (son of Motzich). When the years of having room and board at the table of his inlaws came to an end, and no position as Rabbi was available, he turned to teaching. He taught mainly Gemarrah, and also Bible, and he tried with all his soul to imbue his students with a love of the Bible. He soon acclimatised and adapted to life in the town. When Dr. Herzl appeared with his book The Jewish State, he joined the Zionist camp and was active in Zionist work. In his writings that I received after his death, I found a list of lamentations about Herzl. Reb Yosef attributed to Herzl, the qualities of the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, and the prophecies of Ezekiel about the dry bones.
In 1910 he emigrated to South Africa, where his children were living. In his exchange of letters with my brother Aharon, may the Lord avenge his blood, his concern and his yearning for Stoibtz was distinct. In 1916, his wife died, and until his last days, he was dependent on the support of his children. He did not have a common language with his children who were removed from his spiritual life, and it is clear, that it was difficult for him to communicate with his grandchildren who were born in Africa. He therefore spent most of his days, about 18 years, expressing his ideas in writing, mostly on Jewish topics. The lion's share of his letters encompasses a YiddishHebrew dictionary that is spread over 84 pages, with three columns on each page. The dictionary begins with the letter aleph and ends with the letter shin, because there is no letter tav in Yiddish, only in Hebrew words. In his writings I found many sayings that reflect his pure and clear thoughts, in language that is gentle but stabs like a spear sharp sayings to the hundreds who remained after him.
He died in the Jewish calendar year 5695 18. 11. 1934.
by The Committee
Translated by Esther Libby Raichman
In difficult moments for the Jewish people, at a time of moral decline and complete material ruin, when rabid antisemitism in all its forms, has become the predominant rule in daily life, we turn to you, our brothers abroad, former Stoibtz Jews, to assist us in the difficult work, that we took upon ourselves erecting a building for our Tarbut folk school that is still the only ray of light on the very hazy horizon of our social life in Stoibtz.
Our Tarbut school has already been in existence for 16 years, thanks to which 250 Jewish children have received a modernworld and nationally worthy education that creates a productive and inventive young generation that is devoted to its people. They are educated on the foundations of our old cultural values and traditions. The premises in which the school is situated, does not meet modern sanitary requirements and according to the school authorities, a new building must be erected without fail; otherwise we are being threatened with closing the school and thereby withdrawing the right to teach and educate the young Jewish generation in Stoibtz according to our national considerations; and what is more, that would mean depriving hundreds of Jewish children of the possibility of receiving an elementary education, that is even today, absolutely necessary for further training for a trade. This would result in an increase in the number of illiterate people because, due to the leanings of the ruling powers, study for Jewish children in a government school, would be a real hell.
We feel the burden of the great mission that we have taken upon ourselves. We hope to conduct our work jointly, with the participation of all former Stoibtz Jews, no matter where they are now to be found, those to whom the old home is still a little dear, and who want to contribute and to share in undertaking this major task.
We are making the greatest effort, not begrudging our time and our energies for this sacred work, but the Stoibtz Jewish population stands deprived, anxious, impoverished, prised out from their economic positions, too powerless and weak to pursue such a task. Even with the maximum effort of all local Jews, their contributions would not be enough. We, therefore, turn to you, former Stoibtz Jews, who have more than once, displayed so much understanding and compassion towards your tormented and persecuted brothers, and more than once, helped us in time of trouble. This time too, you should understand the importance of the matter and be active in helping us and contributing for the sake of establishing the school. Help is urgently needed, and as soon as possible. Not one of your names will be missing from the list of builders, and each should lend a hand to the great task of erecting a building for our Tarbut Folk School.
Funds can be sent to the address of one of the following persons:
Berko Tunik, Villenska Street, or Fyvl Nyfeld, or to the address of the treasurer Alyash Chinitsh, Kostziyelni Place.
Dov Bar Chaim Tunik
Fyve Bar Dov Nyfeld
Yitzchak Bar Ozer Bernshtein
Yehuda Leib Ruditzky
Dov Moshe Ryser
Shmuel Bar Ya'akov Kumak
Stoibtz 12 February 1938.
by Zalman Shazar
Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund
I turn around now
From my pain, I am fortunate
I have managed to be
Like an heir of giants,
My oak tree in tatters
That trembles in the storm
Bloodstained and mute
And luminated with suffering.
In desolate silence
It was guarded with affection
But of giants, an heir!
by Nachman Flaksin, Argentina
Translated by Esther Libby Raichman
Angry winds, strong storms
The Steps of Mashiach
The steps of Mashiach, I hear them from afar,
There justice and righteousness will rule overall,
The land of Israel will unite us together,
Ships over oceans sail
Ships over oceans sail
Fluttering proudly on all sides
Flutter flags! Blow them, winds,
Hold firmly, sailors, there the rudder,
Captains, heed your compass,
Do not lose the direct way,
Take the Jews, fast and sure,
To the coast of Israel.
Flutter proudly on all sides
Comfort, Comfort, my People
Comfort my people, so much tormented,
Comfort them in all their stresses,
Comfort him twofold for his suffering,
A sun, a bright one, with golden rays
The Association of Former Stoibtz Residents in Israel
Translated by Esther Libby Raichman
Stoibtz, our little town, apparently the enemy must have been very strong and cruel, if it could destroy you.
If our little town had still existed, we would have lived to see many Golden Weddings, but unfortunately the murderous hand ruined everything. Now, everything for us is a wonderful phenomenon. In the last two years we lived to celebrate two Golden weddings from afar, those of our fellow townsfolk overseas.
The first, of Leibtze Nyfeld (the son of Bere and Simke) in Johannesburg (Africa), the second, the wedding anniversary of Sam Ginzburg in America; at home, he was Hayshke Inzelbuch (the son of Kalman and Chanah Leah).
We all wish them good health to 120 years.
Gittel and Sam Ginzburg, Brooklyn
Leibtze and Hinde Nyfeld, Johannesburg
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