« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

[Page 723]

Chelemer Jews in Montreal, Canada

by Itshe Akhtman

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

Chelemer landsleit [people from the same city] in Montreal, Canada


Twenty-eight years ago, when I stepped onto Canadian soil and arrived in Montreal, there were only about four or five Chelemer families here. Understand that there was no communal life. We would only see each other from time to time.

In 1930, when the economic situation in Poland went from bad to worse, Jews began to run wherever they could. It was impossible to enter America, but those who had relatives there or rich families splurged and they were brought to Canada where it was easier to enter. From 1930-32 about 10 families from Chelm entered.

[Page 724]

There was no communal activity as yet, first, because the families had to settle and, secondly, because there simply was no need for it.

This is how it was until the great calamity began in 1939 and this brought us closer. But then nothing could be done. Meanwhile, a group of Lubavitcher students, escaping from Poland, arrived through Japan, and among them was one of our townsmen, Kramer, a son of Mekhele Kramer, who saw the start of the downfall of our city, Chelm. With us, he threw himself into the work. We began preparing plans for what to do for our city, Chelm.


Managing committee of the Chelemer landsmanschaft [organization of people from the same city or shtetl –town] in Montreal

First row, sitting [from right to left]: - A. Karp, B. Naturman, Sh. Diment, Rabbi Kramer, A. Achtman, Mrs. Fruchter, H. Fruchter, A. Herc, Mrs. Herc and Denkop
Second row, standing: W. Kupersztok, Mrs. Kupersztok, Mrs. Diment, Z. Fryszman, Mrs. Achtman, Mrs. Edlsztajn, Y. Edlsztajn, and Perlmuter

[Pages 725-726]

In 1945 each of us began to receive letters, information from our own relatives or from friends and even from distant acquaintances and we then began our active work. We sent hundreds of packages to our landsleit in the “camps” [displaced persons camps]. When Canada became almost the first country to let in emigrants from the camps, we worked tirelessly in various ways to bring over everyone who wanted to come.

Today, there are up to 120 families in Montreal alone, with children and grandchildren. All, may they be healthy, settled down well, some with work, some in business for themselves. Several even have their own houses. None of the landsleit complain, God forbid, that their fate had brought them to Canada. We meet several times a year and together we spend time in a friendly atmosphere.

Thus Chelemer life goes on in Montreal, Canada. If someone makes a celebration, almost everyone is there. Let us hope that our landsleit here will long, long maintain the tradition of friendship and with this at least remember our former city, Chelm.

[Page 725-726]

Chelemer Jews in Cuba

by Itshe Akhtman

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

This picture was taken in 1925, while the Chelemer Jews were “temporarily” settled there with the hope of emigrating to the United States. At that time they were united and founded a “Chelemer Jewish Emigration Union” in Havana, Cuba
A number of Chelemer who no longer live in Cuba appear in the photo, among them: Rafal Zilber [Israel], Yeheil Waserman [New York] and so on.


A wedding celebration among Chelemer Jews in Tel Aviv in 1940

[Pages 727-728]

Chelemer Jews in Brazil

by Markus Jakubowicz

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

Chelemer landsleit in Porto Alegre, Brazil, during the welcome for a guest from Argentina, our townsman, Shneiur Waserman, well known Yiddish poet


We are indebted for the existence of the Chelemer Jewish colony in Brazil to the first two Jews – Jakub Hoizman, may he rest in peace, and Note Laks, who had the strength and the influence on their landsleit – to free themselves from their old established home, in Chelm, and to create their new home on the shores of the Atlantic – in the friendly and democratic Brazil.

The Chelemer group in Puerto Alegre was also the avant guard for many Chelemer Jews who are now spread across infinite areas of Brazil. All of them are well established and all Chelemer can take pride in their membership in various communal and political institutions across the land. Everywhere, the Chelemer are the most cultured with the best attitude toward cultural institutions in every city. The name “Chelemer” is no longer a synonym for jokes and mockery. On the contrary: you just have to say the word “Chelemer” and it is already known that a real community worker with the old habits and the customs of the old home is before you.

With satisfaction, I will add that I am proud that my “home” was the first home for the first Chelemer. For many years my house was the first place to which the Chelemer Jew came right from the boat. My reports for Moment and my private actions for the first Chelemer Jews in Brazil greatly aided the emigration of Chelmer Jews to the South American lands – and mainly – to Brazil, and thus a large number, who certainly would have been victims of the Hitlerist “Moloch” and would have been still more material for his Treblinkas, Oświęcims [Auschwitz] and annihilating gas ovens.

* * *

With these lines I want to honor those Chelemer Jews who perished, who tore themselves from their thousand year old home to escape and who wretched chance

[Pages 728]

willed that they fall at their cultural and communal positions, leaving after them only the soaring ash that flies securely over the world and envelopes everyone and leaves after it the most sacred memories of Chelm the city once well known to the world.

Chelemer Relief in Mexico

by Markus Jakubowicz

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund


Leah Rozenknopf


A committee of Chelemer landsleit exists in Mexico, whose purpose is to help the small number of surviving Jews from Chelm who were saved from the Hitlerist devils.

Members of the committee are – Eliezer Gus, Josef Groman, Itshe Kroman, Yehoshua Dichter, Haim Goldfeder and Gecl Stal. All committee members are active in this aid work.

Immediately after its creation, the first sum that they collected was 45,000 pesos. The sum of 926 dollars was sent to the New York Relief Committee that carries on much activity.

In addition to this, the committee of Chelemer landsleit in Mexico sent food packages and clothing for the surviving Chelemer Jews.

L. R.

[Pages 729]

We Plant Trees in
“Forest of the Martyrs”

by Markus Jakubowicz

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

We traveled out of Tel Aviv from the Keren Kayemet [Jewish National Fund] Central headquarters in order to take part in planting a forest in the name of the martyrs, killed by Hitler's assassins. The bus with the Chelemer landsleit [people from the same city] traveled with a series of buses in which Jews from other cities were traveling. The remnants from each city traveled in a separate bus.

The bus flew, rushed, quickly and fast. We were on the road that leads to Jerusalem. We already felt fanned by the caressing, hot wind.

Here the bus made a detour and we found ourselves on a side mountain path, only just paved. Our bus moved slowly forward. Police officers stood and made sure that we did not go too fast because the road was narrow.

We came to the location of the Forest of the Martyrs. Here all of the white stones were thrust deep in the wild grass. We went to the tract of the sacred forest. The representative of Keren Kayemet spoke movingly, honoring the martyrs for whom the trees were being planted. The khazan [cantor] recited Psalms and said Kaddish [prayer for the dead]. From every heart tears flowed as if streaming from an avalanche. Several sobbed very loud. They remembered the annihilated. Several controlled their spasmodic crying, but tears rolled from their eyes without end. Everyone was still deep in remembrances connected to the untimely destruction of family members. Each broke a cement pot in which was found the young sapling that symbolized a particular neshomele [sweet soul]. The sapling neshomele was lowered into a prepared hole and it was covered with tear dampened earth.

We said good bye to the sapling neshomelekh [plural of neshomele] as with living family trees and deeply sunk in our dark thoughts we went with lowered heads to the buses that would again take us over the mountains of Jerusalem back to Tel Aviv.

M. T.

[Pages 729-730]

A group of Chelemer active Zionist workers, with Moshe Lang


Dramatic circle of the Linas-haTzedek [society to care for the sick poor] in 1934.
In the center, Josele Rozenblat.


A group of students and teachers from the Jewish gymnazie [high school], with the Director Lipman and female teacher Cuker


Motl Alter, founder and diligent social worker from the Chelemer landsmanschaft [organization of people from the same town] in Johannesburg
A banquet dedicated to the ending of the school year 1938/39 of the Hebrew Tarbut School [secular, Hebrew language schools] in Chelm.
In the photo: Teachers and social workers of the school, in the center, Mr. Josef Rolnik, now in Israel, an active worker in Agud Yotsei-Chelm [Association of the People from Chelm]
Avraham Rozenboim, the “father” of Chelemer Arbeiter Ring [Workman's Circle] in New York
Jakov Alter, a devoted worker from the Chelemer landsmanschaft in Johannesburg
Chelemer Jews – survivors in Germany – during a gathering
Leizer Sziszler, active communal worker from the Chelemer landsmanschaft in Johannesburg
Sh. Eizen and his wife, accompanied by a nurse, leave the hospital in Munich, Germany, having gone through a serious illness. They are now in Israel.
A gathering of Chelemer landsleit in Izrael
Berl Naturman, an active social worker Chelemer landsmanschaft in Canada


« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.

JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

  Chelm, Poland     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page

Yizkor Book Director, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Max Heffler

Copyright © 1999-2024 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 26 Mar 2021 by LA