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Czenstochower Aid Society
and Czenstochower Relief Committee in New York

A. Koifman

The idea of founding a Czenstochower Aid Society was born in Tompkins Square Park, Seventh Street and Avenue B in New York at the beginning of the summer of 1914. Czenstochower landsleit [people from the same town] would come together there and share the news from their old home city and learn what was happening among the landsleit here in New York. The purpose of the society was to be a frequent gathering of the landsleit who were divided and separated from one another and to support the needy in case of illness, unemployment or other cases of misfortune.

The first gathering of a large group of landsleit took place on the 2nd of July 1914 at the synagogue of the Belchatower Society, Sixth Street, between Avenue B and C in New York. Everyone present agreed to create an organization to which all landsleit could belong without any distinction due to age, religious or social beliefs.

It was decided that the organization would be called “Czenstochower Aid Society.”

The purpose of the society was established thus:

  1. to help every landsman or landsfroy [man or woman from the same town] at times of need or illness.
  2. to create work among our landsleit for the unemployed landsleit.
  3. if either a landsman or landsfroy cannot remain in America for certain reasons, to help them with financial means to return home.
  4. everyone can become a member without distinction as to party and organization.
Officials and an executive member were elected to lead the organization.

Friend Chaim–Leib Swarc was elected as the first president.

It was decided that the meetings of the society would take place every Monday.

New members came to each meeting.

At one meeting, on the last Monday in August 1914, we learned that the First World War had broken out and Czenstochow was taken by the Germans on Shabbos [Sabbath] night (the Germans occupied Czenstochow on the morning of the 3rd of August – ed.) We rejoiced that we had become “Germans”… we did not understand then that the world war meant death for us and for the entire world.

On a Sunday in September, the Aid Society had its first picnic in Glendale Schuetzen Park, in Brooklyn. Several hundred people came together and had a good time together.

Several hundred flags with the inscription “Czenstochower Aid Society” were sold at the picnic.

It was decided later to arrange a picnic every year and this did indeed happen continuously for several years. The landsleit knew that we would come together for a picnic in the summer and spend the entire day among landsleit, family, friends and acquaintances.

In those years, two landsleit, Simkha Kalka and Joseph Kaufman, had their printing shop at 154 Delancey Street, where many friends and acquaintances would meet. The news arrived then that our friend, Elkone Chrabalowski, was in a prisoner–of–war camp in Austria. It was decided immediately to send him several dollars and when we received an answer, to send [money] again. Thus was help sent several times.

The Aid Society became very well–known among our landsleit. Everyone who needed help was supported by the society. After the First World War, the Aid Society helped several friends who could not remain here [in New York] return home.

The first ball took place at Avenue A between 4th and 5th Streets, in New York, in 1915. Around 550 people came together. The ball was a success. The next year, the ball was arranged in Tammany Hall on 14th Street, then one of the most beautiful locations in New York. Our balls took place there

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several years in a row. Later, a larger place was needed; the balls took place in various hotels. Over a thousand people would come to the ball.

The balls were a tradition for the landsleit, just as the yearly picnic.

At the beginning, the society supported the sick and the needy in New York with the income brought in by these undertakings; later, large sums were sent to Czenstochow every year.

At the beginning, the aid money for Czenstochow was sent to the address of the Rabbi, Reb Nakhum Asz for him to divide the support among the institutions of the kehile [organized Jewish community], such as, for example, the old age home, the Jewish hospital and so on, according to our instructions. Right after the First World War, the Aid Society joined the workers organization that carried on aid activities among the workers and poor masses, such as the workers kitchen, children's home and so on and with other general charity institutions and the aid money was sent directly to them.

At any opportunity at a get–together, the friends and activists of the Aid Society did not forget the society, as, for example, a large sum [of money] was collected in 1917 at the wedding of Friend Joseph Kaufman and Rachel Szaja.

The society also undertook theater benefits many times. The members took part in committees, visited landsleit and sold theater tickets. In general, the active members of the Aid Society and, later, the Czenstochower Relief in New York gave a great deal of time and energy for the benefit of the society.

Each undertaking demanded a great deal of effort and work. The landsleit had to be visited, one had to climb to the fifth or sixth floor and sometimes higher. However, no sacrifice was too difficult for the holy work of aid for the brothers and sisters in the old home.

The famous, popular speaker, Joseph Barondess, appeared at a theater undertaking of the Czenstochower Aid Society and appealed to those in the theater to support the war victims in Czenstochow. His appeal made a strong impression and several hundred dollars were collected then.

The executive would come together at the house of a member after each function and make an accounting (financial) of the expenses and income. The member at whose home they would come together, as was the way, would arrange a nice meal for those assembled. A large sum of money always would be collected and this money would increase the amount made from the function.

In 1920, the writer of these lines was sent on a tour of America. He visited Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Philadelphia, spent around three months in all of the cities and collected several hundred dollars in aid for the war victims.

The main income of the society, and, later, Relief, however, was from the balls, actually from the journal that was printed at this opportunity. The friends and landsleit gave their greetings (complements), printed advertisements and also gathered [greetings and advertisements] from their acquaintances who were not from Czenstochow. Each year, the journal brought in hundreds and many times thousands of dollars of profit.

There were many landsleit who donated 50 dollars and more every year. Among those who stood out was Friend Jakob Rechnitz, who contributed 100 dollars to the ball every year and, in addition, bought tickets for 25 dollars.

The need of our brothers and sisters in Czenstochow grew even more than the work of the Aid Society did. The idea arose of bringing to the aid work the existing organizations in New York, which at first consisted of the Arbeter Ring branch no. 261, Czenstochower Young Men and the Czenstochower branch of the Jewish National Workers' Union. The organizations agreed and elected their representatives. At one of the meetings of the Aid Society with the representatives of other Czenstochow organizations in New York, it was decided that the name “Aid Society” would be changed to the Czenstochower Relief Committee. The committee would have the separate task of collecting aid for the war victims in Czenstochow. The annual ball for 1921 had already been arranged through the Czenstochower Relief Committee.

In 1921, Friend Mendl Szuchter, one of the leaders of the workers movement in Czenstochow, esteemed communal worker in Chicago and member of the then People's Relief Committee in America [P.R.C.] was sent as a delegate of the P.R.C.

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to a conference in Europe. He also was supposed to visit Poland and give a certain sum of money for aid purposes. The Czenstochower Relief Committee voted to send several hundred dollars through Comrade Szuchter for the local [Czenstochow] aid organizations and also called a special meeting to say goodbye to Friend Szuchter before he departed. At this opportunity, Friend Szuchter was asked to investigate the condition of the Jews in Czenstochow and to find out which institutions there were the most useful and the most in need.

When Friend Szuchter returned from his trip, the Czenstochower Relief Committee again arranged a meeting to hear his report. He described the terrible situation for the Jews in Poland, which meant [the need] of help for them from America. He particularly emphasized the important work of the Jewish children's homes and folks–shuln [public schools] in Czenstochow in which several 100 poor workers' children were fed, studied and raised. He declared that if the Czenstochow landsleit [people from the same town] in America wanted to do something useful and substantial for their home city that would remain a permanent memorial for their brothers on the other side of the sea, they should help erect their own house for the children's homes and folks–shuln.

Friend Szuchter's proposal inspired everyone. It immediately was decided that from then and into the future we would do everything that was in our power to accomplish this magnificent plan.

An appeal that we were preparing to create our own house for Jewish children's homes in Czenstochow was printed in the journal that was published for the annual ball in 1922. The landsleit accepted the idea with inspiration and the ball that year had the greatest success.

In addition to these undertakings, the friends at the various organizations contributed certain sums for the purpose of building the house. Thus, the members of Czenstochower Young Men taxed themselves five dollars each. The Czenstochower Arbeter Ring [Workman's Circle] branch 261 and the Czenstochower branch of the Jewish National Workers' Union also contributed their portions of money.

The Czenstochower Relief held a series of meeting after the sum of several thousand dollars was collected and discussed the question of sending a delegation to Czenstochow to purchase the house. The two Relief activists, Friend Louis Szimkowicz and Chaim Leib Szwarc were elected. They traveled to Czenstochow and spent several weeks there.

During [their visit] they held a large number of conferences and meetings with representatives of various classes of the Czenstochow population, heard about a large number of plans about how to accomplish the idea of creating a house and after much deliberation, decided to buy the house located at Krutka 23 for the sum of 3,700 dollars. The disadvantage was that the actual house for the children's home and school had first to be built because the house that was on the property was too small for a school. The situation had a great attribute that in building a new house, it could be planned specially in a way so that it was suitable for a children's home and school.

The Relief delegates in Czenstochow who bought the house also carried out the unification of several children's homes and schools under the joint managing committee in which three political group, Fareinikte [United], Poalei–Zion [Marxist Zionists] and the Bund were represented. In addition, a general library was created out of the three separate libraries that existed then in Czenstochow. The delegates designated a sum of money for new books and for the general library and also designated certain sums of money for other worthwhile institutions.

When the delegates returned to New York they gave a full report at a large meeting about everything that they had done in Czenstochow. The entire Relief Committee took note of the report with great satisfaction and thanked them for their great work.

Relief began energetic and feverish activity to collect the money to build the house.

The ball organized in 1923 was dedicated to this purpose and in the journal published on the 17th of November 1923 they [the Relief Committee] made use of the opportunity to issue a call in with the title:

The Czenstochow Relief in New York is buying house for the children's home and Folkshul [public school] in Czenstochow.

From then on, the income from all undertakings increased, averaging around 2,000 dollars a year. Most of the money was utilized for the Y.L. Peretz Children's Home and Folkshul in Czenstochow.

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The Ladies Auxiliary, which was founded by Friend Szimkowicz before he left for Czenstochow, helped Relief in its work to finish the house and sent the first 500 dollars to Czenstochow. The decision was made at a meeting at Friend Yisroelka Brader's house in March 1923.

In April 1923, Relief undertook the collection of books for the general Czenstochow library. The branch of the Jewish National Workers' Union contributed 130 books to the activity. The number of books collected by Relief and sent to Czenstochow reached several hundred.

On the 13th of January 1924 the worker leader and emissary from Tsysho (Central Jewish School Organization) in Warsaw – Beinish Michalewicz – visited the meeting of Czenstochower Relief and gave a report about the situation for the Jewish masses in Poland and about the problems of the Jewish schools all over Poland and in Czenstochow.

In June 1924 Relief received a report from Czenstochow that the official dedication of the house for the children's homes and folkshul would take place on the 5th of July.

In December 1924 Friend Chrabalowski returned to Czenstochow after being in Chicago for a year and brought 600 dollars with him for the schools. Two hundred dollars [were from] Chicago, 200 dollars from Czenstochower Relief in New York and 200 dollars from the Ladies Auxiliary. In addition, Relief sent 100 dollars with him for the Jewish hospital and 100 dollars for the old age home. He also was authorized to be the official representative of Relief in the managing committee of the children's home and folkshul in Czenstochow. The committee also called for the house to be named after Y.L. Peretz.

Relief and all of the other Czenstochow organizations collected the sum of 1,000 dollars in 1926 because of the great need among the general Jewish population in Czenstochow, which was expressed in an urgent call for help, and sent it to Rabbi Nakhum Asz and to the chairman of the school managing committee, Shaya Nirenberg. Instructions were sent with the money to create a joint committee that would distribute the money among the general philanthropic and worker organizations.

The same year, Relief carried out activities to install a marble plaque with the name of the organizations and people who had taken part in the campaign to build the Y.L. Peretz House in Czenstochow.

In addition to the annual balls, theater undertakings and other gatherings organized by Relief, yearly banquets and meetings took place. The largest and most impressive banquet took place in 1926 at the Beethoven Hall that brought in the sum of around 1,200 dollars.

In December 1926 Friend Chrabalowski came to New York for the second time. He gave a report at a Relief meeting on the 13th of December about the terrible situation of the Jewish masses in Poland in general and about the schools in Czenstochow in particular. Mr. Chrabalowski remained active in Relief from then on as a contact–correspondent with Czenstochow and as secretary.

On the 6th of April 1928 Friend Zilber organized a theater performance with the help of the actor Leon Reich who appeared at Relief banquets several times. The performance brought in over 200 dollars in income.

On the 27th of May 1928 a Relief and Ladies Auxiliary banquet took place. Friend Chayala Waga–Rojtman, one of the first children's home teachers who had come to New York that year, appeared.

At a meeting on the 14th of May 1928 it was decided that Relief would arrange its activities jointly with the Ladies Auxiliary and the income would be evenly divided between both organizations.

On the 4th of February 1929 Relief decided to call a conference of all Czenstochower organizations to consider the question of aid for the political arrestees after Friend Szlingbaum, who had visited Czenstochow, gave a report about the political persecutions and arrests in Poland.

On the 4th of March 1929 Relief decided to begin the work of publishing a book about the history of Czenstochow with the name, Czenstochower Album. A committee was elected that began the work, but the work ceased because of a series of difficulties.

In April 1930 Czenstochower Relief in New York arranged a concert and a film about the children's home and folkshul in

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Czenstochow. A film made in New York of the activists from Relief and the Ladies Auxiliary was shown with the film that was sent from Czenstochow. Relief also organized such film–concerts in Detroit and Chicago. Friend Karl Gerichter was the delegate of Relief who organized the concerts in the two above–mentioned cities. The income from the film reached over 500 dollars.

At that time the financial situation of the school in Czenstochow became worse from day to day. The [donations] from Relief became smaller because of the rising depression in America. The managing committee of the school mortgaged the house for a sum of 600 dollars and rented out a part of the house as private residences. Seeing that if things continued in this way they would lose the school and the house, Relief decided to send demands to the managing committee that the school abandon the seven classes, maintain the children's home and arrange afternoon classes for the older children.

A number of active members declared on the 11th of May 1930 that they were leaving Relief because differences of opinion among the so–called right and left had became stronger at that time. A meeting of Relief activists was held at the home of Friend Fridman at the end of summer of that same year. It was decided to end the work of Relief as a separate organization and to work with the Ladies Auxiliary as much as possible to support the children's home in Czenstochow. Thus closed a beautiful chapter of fraternal aid and self–sacrificing work done by the Czenstochower landsleit in New York for their brothers and sisters on the other side of the ocean.

* *
*

The first chairman of the Aid Society and, later, Czenstochower Relief in New York was Friend Louis Szwarc. Friend Silwer took over the chairmanship in December 1925. And the chairmanship during the last months of Relief was taken by Friend Szimkowicz and by Friend Kolin. Over the course of time, Friend Fajertag took the chairmanship many times.

Friend Y. Win was the secretary of Relief until June 1926. The secretaries from the 28th of June until the January 1928 were Friend Karl Gerichter and Abe Kaufman. From 1928 on – Friend A. Chrabalowski.

Friend Fajersztajn was the finance secretary until the last day of his life. After him – Friend Fridman.

Most of the meetings of Relief would be held at 276 Houston Street and then at 305 East 6th Street.


The United Czenstochower Relief Committee
in New York

A. Khrobolowski, A. Koifman

The position of the Jewish masses in Poland already was unbearable in 1935. The government of the polkownikes [colonels], the so–called Sanacja [sanitation in Polish, a Polish political movement led by Marshal Josef Pilsudski], with the help of all the reactionary powers in the country, barred the Jewish population from the main sources of income through laws and restrictions. Hunger and need reigned everywhere. Several landsleit [people from the same town] received letters from Czenstochow, which described the terrible situation and asked for help. It was before Passover and there was an urgent need to provide matzos for the needy Czenstochow Jews. The question was considered at a meeting of the Young Men and it was decided that help would be sent. A committee was founded, which collected 400 dollars. The Young Men contributed 100 dollars. This money was telegraphed immediately to Czenstochow in the name of Rabbi Nakhum Asz.

On the 29th of May 1935, the committee called a special meeting of the Czenstochow organizations in New York with the purpose of reviving the aid committee. Taking part in the meeting were the Young Men, First Zaloshiner [Dzialoszyn] Chevra Anshei Bnei Achim, branch 261 of the Arbeter Ring [Workman's Circle]. Several weeks later,

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a revived aid committee also became involved in the Czenstochower branch 11 of the United National Workers Order.

The meeting decided that the new aid committee would be called United Czenstochower Relief.

Elected as officials were:

Natan (Nisen) Cymerman, president.
Avraham Yakov Senzer, vice president.
Louis Szimkowicz, finance secretary.
Joseph Kaufman, secretary.

Over the summer of 1935, the renewed “Relief” organized and recruited members for the organization.

The first ball of the United Relief Committee took place on the 25th of January 1936 in Webster Hall, which brought in a net income of 1,422 dollars.

The following unions and institutions in Czenstochow were supported with this sum:

  1. Y. L. Peretz children's home.
  2. the Jewish hospital.
  3. the unemployed in the professional unions.
  4. Beis Lekhem [bread for the poor].
  5. Tomkhai Ani–im [support for the poor].
  6. Moyshev skeynim [old age home].
  7. TOZ (Society for Medical Help).
  8. Patronat (society in New York to help the political arrestees in Poland).
In April 1936 the elections of officials took place for the second time

 

cze270.JPG

Sitting from right to left: G. Lewi, S. Korpiel, J. Kaufman, H. Fajerstein, Y. Kopin and A. Kaufman
1st row, standing from right to left: R. Federman, Kh. Gliksman, M. Kepp, M. Gelber, Frajermojer, G. Jacobs and T. Lenczner
2nd row, standing from right to left: M. Fajner, Y. B. Silwer, D. Zitman and Y. Kiel [Kelciglowski]

 

and elected were:

Louis Szimkowicz, president.
Yeta Lenszner, vice president.
Joseph Kaufman, secretary.
Itshe Zelkowicz, treasurer.

In February 1937 the woman's organization, the Ladies Auxiliary, was newly founded at United Czenstochower Relief.

The new officials [of United Czenstochower Relief] elected in 1937 were:

Avraham Yakov Senzer – president.
Abe Herszkowicz – vice president.
Sam Oberman – treasurer.
Charlie (Skharye) Lewenstein – recording secretary.

In 1937 the Czenstochow landsmanschaft [organization of people from the same town] was shocked by the news that pogroms (the third pogrom) had again taken place in Czenstochow. This was in addition to the need and bitter despair that reigned there.

Relief designated the sum of 500 dollars for aid for those suffering. One thousand dollars was sent, including 500 dollars donated by the Union of Polish Jews. The money was sent to the dentist, Ahron Peretz.

Relief called a Patronat meeting in connection with the pogrom at the Czenstochower Chasam Sopher synagogue under the chairmanship of president Avraham Yakov Senzer, at which the representatives of the “Joint” [Joint Distribution Committee] – Kilimowski, a representative of ORT [Obchestvo Remesienogo Truda – Association for the Promotion of Skilled Trades], Sister Yeta Lenczner, Morris Szwarc – from Noworadosmk, Y. Frajd of the Morgn Freiheit [Morning Freedom], Comrade Mordekhai Zelig Hoyrish of the Dzialoszyner Society and others appeared.

The annual ball in 1938 took place on the 8th of January at the Edison Hotel. The net income reached 2,800 dollars.

The officials elected in 1938 were:

Avraham Senzer, president.
Izzy Berger, vice president.
Joseph Kaufman, finance secretary.
Charlie Lewenstein, recording secretary.
Yankl Kapin (Kapinski), treasurer.

The annual ball in 1939 took place at the Manhattan Center. The officials remained the same for that year.

Relief organized a mass meeting on Sunday, the 22nd of October, the same year at the Chasam Sopher synagogue, Clinton Street. Avraham Yakov Senzer (president of Relief] was the chairman of the meeting. Comrade Mordekhai Zelig Hoyrish and Friend Yitzhak Kurski, among others, appeared at the meeting.

The sum of 3,100 dollars was collected by Relief in the year 1939.

The Second World War broke out. The Hitler bands occupied Czenstochow. However, the aid work for Czenstochow did not stop. It was carried out through the intervention of the national organizations, such as the “Joint,” ORT and others.

The ball in 1940, which took place on the 6th of January at the Manhattan Center, was not a joyful one that year. Firstly, Czenstochow already was squirming in the bloody hands of the Nazi murderers; secondly, that evening, the Czenstochow landsleit learned of the sudden death of Charlie Lewenstein, who was beloved by everyone who knew him. His funeral took place on the 7th of January. A large number of landsleit and friends accompanied him to his eternal rest.

A memorial evening was organized by United Czenstochower Relief several days later, on Wednesday, the 10th of January, dedicated to the memory of Charlie Lewenstein.

Friend Max Kaminski was elected as the new recording secretary.

Several friends from Czenstochow arrived in New York during the winter 1940–41, who had succeeded in saving themselves from Hitler's devils via the Soviet Union. They were Rafal Federman, the lawyer Zigmunt Epsztajn, Aleksander Haptka, Herman Zigas and Chana Munawicz. Dr. Lazerowicz came later.

Dr. Moritz Grinbaum and his wife and son, who had come here to the World's Fair, already were in New York.

Friend Rafal Federman was welcomed by United Czenstochower Relief as a leader of a wide series of worker undertakings in Czenstochow and for many years a fighter for the rights of the Jewish masses in Czenstochow. Friends Dr. Lazarowicz, Aleksander Haptka, Zigas and Chana Munawicz also appeared at the meeting of Relief and were welcomed by the president, Friend Senzer, and their Czenstochower friends.

In May 1940

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Friend Harry Fajerstein was elected as vice president. The remaining officials remained the same.

Relief collected the sum of 2,400 dollars during 1940.

The annual Relief and Ladies Auxiliary ball took place in January 1941 at Manhattan Center. There were up to 700 people present.

According to an earlier decision by Relief, a welcoming banquet for Friends R. Federman, Yitzhak and Hela Gurski, Dr. Moritz Grinbaum and his wife, Gertrude, the lawyer Zigmund Epsztajn, Herman Zigas and Chana Munawicz took place on Sunday, the 2nd of March 1941. The banquet was one of Relief's most beautiful undertakings. A large number of guests and representatives from national organizations took part. Friend Joseph Kaufman, finance secretary of Relief, opened the gathering and turned the leadership over to the president of Relief, Friend Avraham Yakov Senzer. Friend A. Chrabalowski greeted the honored guests, who had played a significant role in the life of modern, Jewish Czenstochow, on behalf of United Czenstochower Relief and the Ladies Auxiliary. Friend Tabaczinski, the representative of the Jewish Workers' Committee and the well–known socialist leader of Freiland [Freeland] in America, Ben Adir (Dr. Rozin) also appeared. Friend Rambach spoke in the name of the Czenstochower Arbeter Ring branch 261. Telegrams and written greetings arrived from Cina Ozszech in Toronto, Canada, Grilak, Epsztajn and Menkof in Los Angeles, Mr. and Mrs. Cincinatus in Toronto, Fanny and Sam Chablow in Chicago.

Finally, Friends R. Federman and Yitzhak Gurski responded to the greetings.

The banquet left a deep impression on those gathered.

At the end of 1941, Friend Abe Kaufman was elected as recording secretary. The remaining Relief officials remained the same.

The income in 1941 was 1,990 dollars.

[During its existence] Czenstochower Relief collected 15,798 dollars. The aid institutions in Czenstochow have already been mentioned. When contact with Czenstochow was interrupted during the war, Relief carried out its aid work through the Joint [Distribution Committee].

 

cze272.JPG

Landsleit and guests at the banquet arranged for the arrival in America of the first Czenstochow refugees in 1941

 

Relief decided to support the Workers Committee in New York in connection with the fact that it helped to save several friends from Czenstochow and brought them to New York (R. Federman, Epsztajn, Zigas, Andzsha [Chana] Munawicz.

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At the same time, Relief also supported ORT in America and HIAS [Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society].

Relief organized an information bureau after the outbreak of the Second World War that had a great significance as long as there still was a mail connection with Czenstochow, under the direction of R. Federman. The information bureau connected many Czenstochow families and people with their friends in America and dozens of packages of clothing and food were sent with the help of the bureau.

The four issues of the Bulletin of the United Czenstochower Relief and Ladies Auxiliary in New York (edited by R. Federman and A. Chrabalowski) had a great significance for the relief work during wartime.

*

On the 7th of December 1941 our country was shaken by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. America entered the Second World War and new tasks arose for United Czenstochower Relief and the Ladies Auxiliary. Special meetings of the executive and membership of Relief took place. Friends Senzer, Federman and Wajsberg were given the task of drafting a resolution. Such a resolution was adopted:

“United Czenstochower Relief in New York, still remaining devoted to its fundamental position as an aid organization for Czenstochow, considers it as its civic duty with the entry of America into the Second World War, to increase its activity for the essentials of life and to adapt to the needs of our country at a time of war.

“Therefore, we have decided:

  1. To recommend to the Ladies Auxiliary that it join the American Red Cross as an organization, help in all of their activities and influence our landsleit to join.
  2. According to the decision by Relief, a certain sum that our undertaking, the ball, will bring in will be designated for medical

 

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Representatives of the Jewish community with the Rabbi, Reb Nakhum Asz at the entrance to the synagogue after the celebration of the 150th year of independence of the United States. Among others, Y. Kopin and A Sigman, the delegates from United Czenstochower Relief Committee

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    and war aid for America and its allies.
  1. United Czenstochower Relief and the Ladies Auxiliary will organize, as far as possible, special undertakings for the same purpose.”
On Shabbos [Sabbath], the 7th of February 1942, the annual Czenstochower Ball took place at Central Plaza. This was the last ball arranged by United Czenstochower Relief and the Ladies Auxiliary.

According to a previous decision, part of the income from the ball was designated for the Jewish council of Russian War Relief, for the American Red Cross and New York War Relief.

At a special meeting of the executive on the 22nd of March 1942 it was decided to call a conference of representatives of the Czenstochower organizations in New York to discuss the question of publishing a Czenstochower Almanac. Thus began new, important work for United Czenstochower Relief.

In connection with this, it was decided to collect a fund of 10,000 dollars as a construction fund and for the first aid for Czenstochow and its neighboring shtetlekh [towns].

In the call that was printed in connection with the decision, it was said:

“Brothers and sisters:

“The bloody fight with the Nazi beasts is now in full fervor. We know that still more blood – dear blood from the best children of humanity in all corners of the world – will continue to be spilled and great sacrifices will be made by each of us until the horrible, cruel Nazi beasts will finally be beaten.

“However as certain as we know that the night must end and the day will come – just as certainly must come the end of the Nazi murderers and now today we must prepare for that day.

“And when the great day comes, dear brothers and sisters, let us remember that what remains of our brothers and sisters after the slaughters, atrocities, torture in the ghettos and concentration camps, will be those gravely tortured, starved, naked, barefoot and without a place to lay one's head.

“The cry to us for help by the individuals who survived the Nazi hell will reach to heaven and woe to us and woe to them, to our unfortunate brothers, if we are not ready to answer their call and give them their first help.”

The first sum for this designated purpose was collected on Shabbos, the 20th of June 1942 at St. Marks Place at the inauguration of Relief and the Ladies Auxiliary.

Over 1,000 dollars was collected on Shabbos, the 19th of June 1943 at the celebration in honor of the publishing of a sample of the book, Czenstochower Yidn at the Academy Hall.

A farewell banquet at Academy Hall at the departure for Los Angeles, California of Friend Avraham Yakob Senzer, president of United Czenstochower Relief, to improve his health, and around 1,000 was collected.

Friend Harry Fajerstein represented him as chairman and Friend Sam Korpiel as vice chairman during his absence.

Friend Senzer returned from Los Angeles at the end of March 1944 and again took his office as president.

Thursday, the 15th of May 1944, Relief arranged a special gathering in honor of Friend Izzy Berger, former vice president and executive member of Relief – at the departure of he and his family for Los Angeles, California. A large group of members of Relief and their families and of friends of I. Berger attended the meeting.

Reports began to arrive about the extermination of our brothers and sister in Poland. At first only the names of individual martyrs was known.

Dr. [Emanuel] Ringelblum (well–known historian, who took part in the founding of the committee for a Czenstochower pinkes [book of records and history of a community], created in Czenstochow) was honored at one of the meetings of Relief, as well as Ch. Wilczinski, who perished with him at the hands of the Nazi murderers.

On the 13th of October 1944 a meeting of Relief decided to turn to all landsleit in the United States and Canada to send representatives to a national conference with the purpose of coordinating the aid activity for Czenstochow and mobilize all of the landsmanschaftn for the book, Czenstochower Yidn.

After the victorious entry into Poland of the Soviet Army, when the Jewish Central Committee was founded in Lublin, it was decided to send a transport of food packages through the Polish Union in the name of Dr. Zomersztajn.

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At the same meeting the assembled Relief members donated a large number of food packages.

When the sad news arrived about the martyrs' death of Moshe and Rayzele Berkensztat, Relief arranged a memorial evening at which Friends A. Chrabalowski and Rafal Federman spoke about the idealistic activity of the two martyrs. Avraham Yakov Senzer was the chairman of the meeting.

Friend R. Federman was sent on a tour to visit the cities of Detroit, Chicago and Toronto as was decided earlier by Relief. He also visited Los Angeles and he returned at the end of December.

On Sunday the 17th of January 1945, under the chairmanship of President Avraham Yakov Senzer, Relief arranged a welcome for Friend Federman, who gave a report of his trip. Those assembled for the evening donated 1,468 dollars.

Friend Nisen Cymerman, first president and founder of United Czenstochower Relief, also sat at the president's table that evening. He died suddenly on his way home.

On Wednesday, the 24th of January 1945, Relief, under the chairmanship of President Avraham Yakov Senzer, held a memorial gathering in honor of the memory of Nisen Cymerman. The speakers were: Max Jacobs, Joe Jacobs, Max Rabinowicz, Dr. Wajskop. Emanuel Wargon, Sziper, Federman, Charbalowski, Willy Nachtigal, Joseph and Abe Kaufman. In accordance with a proposal by Friend Silver, those assembled honored his memory with the collection of a large sum of money for food packages for the Jewish Central Committee.

It also was decided to accept the proposal of Dr. Wajskop that Relief should arrange a memorial meeting every year on Friend Cymerman's yarhrzeit [anniversary of a death].

Czentochow and almost all of Poland was liberated from the Nazis on the 16th of January 1945. Reports had already come in about the extermination of the Jewish population of our home city from Izbicki and Brandes, who had succeeded in saving themselves in Eretz Yisroel. The reports were published in the Jewish newspapers in New York.

Relief organized a mass meeting on Sunday, the 25th of February 1945. It was a meeting of joy mixed with grief and pain. Czenstochow was liberated from the Nazi murderers. But it already was clear that with the exception of several hundred people, the entire Jewish population – the fathers, the mothers, brothers, sisters and friends of those assembled – had been annihilated. The speakers choked with tears. Those assembled cried. A declaration was accepted at the meeting to erect an eternal light for those who had perished and to arrange an annual memorial day that would be held by all Czenstochower around the world.

A letter came to Relief from the Polish Ambassador in Moscow, Zigmunt Madzelewski. He said that he came from Czenstochow and had learned about our [organization] Relief. He asked that we maintain contact with him.

 

cze275.JPG

Ambassador Madzelewski's letter

 

On Saturday and Sunday, the 23rd and 24th of June 1945, the national conference of the Czenstochower landsmanschaftn in America and Canada took place in Beethoven Hall.

A celebration banquet in honor of the delegates to the conference took place on Sunday evening in the same hall. A large group of New York landsleit took part. Three thousand four hundred dollars was donated. The Czenstochower Young Men donated 500 dollars from their treasury, 1,000 dollars collected from

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their members; totaling 1,500 dollars. The Ladies Auxiliary donated 500 dollars and the Czenstochower branch 11 of the Jewish Fraternal People's Order – 200 dollars.

The following telegram arrived from Czenstochow several days after the conference:

“A hearty greeting from the children of Y.L. Peretz house.”

Signed: Brener, Lederman, Hasenfeld, Weksztajn. Czarni, Yosef Goldberg – Jewish Committee – Aleje number 7.

It was decided on the 11th of July 1945 in connection with the decision to publish the book, Czenstochower Yidn, that 1,500 books would be printed.

Food packages were sent to landsleit in various countries whose addresses we had received. It also was decided to send support to the Jewish community in Czenstochow to rebuild the cemetery.

Two thousand dollars were sent to Czenstochow through the Joint and 500 dollars through TOZ.

There was a convention in Detroit on the 24th and 25th of November 1945.

A mass meeting took place on Sunday, the 9th of December 1945 at Manhattan Center at which over 3,300 dollars was collected.

On Wednesday, the 9th of January 1946 a memorial meeting for the deceased president, Nisen Cymerman, took place. Around 500 dollars for matzos for Czenstochow was collected. The Ladies Auxiliary donated 100 dollars.

Five thousand pounds of matzos costing 835 dollars was sent through Agudas Yisroel.

A relief committee was founded in Montreal. Friend Federman was at the founding as a delegate of the United Czenstochower Relief Committee.

Five hundred dollars was sent to Paris and 300 dollars to Sweden.

There was a mass meeting at Irving Plaza on the 19th of May 1946. Yakov Pat reported about his visit to Czenstochow and to Poland in general. Various photographs of Czenstochow were shown. One thousand three hundred and twenty–two dollars was collected.

Friends Senzer and Federman were delegates to Chicago; they brought the sum of 1,800 dollars to send to Czenstochow.

On Wednesday, the 12thth of June 1946, Friend Wolf Gliksman, who had not long ago returned from Europe, was present at the Relief meeting. He gave his greetings to Relief. It was decided to place the full text of his speech in the minutes as well as to print them in the book, Czenstochower Yidn, which we provide here:

The Speech by W. Gliksman

Gathered Friends.

When, during the time of the large ghetto, later in the small ghetto and finally in the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Dachau, I would sometimes dream about a land where I could build my old–new life, I had before my eyes Eretz–Yisroel and the United States.

In addition to purely personal reasons that drew me and brought me to this land and drive me on to Eretz–Yisroel, I had as a purpose coming to a Jewish center in a Jewish environment.

After the destruction of the large Jewish community in Poland, we the survivors wanted to make contact with Jews, draw strength from them for our future life.

True, we tried to live in exclusively Jewish groups in Germany or Poland, Hungary or Lithuania after the liberation, in order to refresh ourselves together and fight for our own new existence.

Alas, we in Europe ran into hatred on the part of the non–Jewish population. Now, all the more so, we do not want to remain in Germany.

I was one of the fortunate ones who had the opportunity to leave Germany on the first transport and go to America.

We, those saved after the destruction, mainly come here with the help of our sisters, brothers or close relatives. But the strength that draws us here is the great Jewish community and in the first ranks are our landsmanschaftn.

Dear landsleit: It is a great honor for me to be present this evening and to remember a little about our old home. I already have had the opportunity to become acquainted with some of you. I will mention the name of Rafal Federman with whom I have discussed various questions concerning our city. I must here express my thanks to Mr. Federman for the great work he performed for our city, while still in Czenstochow and, particularly, here in America. His work is inestimable.

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I had a warm reception at the meeting in the house of Mr. Chrabalowski, where I could meet landsleit such as Mr. Silver and A. Kaufman; incidentally, the latter was a yeshiva–bukher [yeshiva – religious secondary school – student] of my father, may he rest in peace.

I also want to meet our landsleit and to work with them in every way for our brothers in Czenstochow.

And although I do not come directly from Czenstochow and do not have the right to speak in their name, I want to express my thanks here to everyone for everything you have done so far for all of them.

I also had the opportunity to read various letters from our landsleit from all over the world to Mr. Y. Kaufman and to Relief in which they say thank you for the help, which had been sent.

I see the good will, effort and sacrifice and that you remember your old home in the work of the secretariat of our Relief [organization], in which I have been active since a few days after my arrival here and where I work with Mr. Federman in the great work.

I must greet your institution with a particular joy and honor at the publication of the book, Czenstochower Yidn. Mr. Federman played an important part here.

While in Munich I brought to the historical commission at the central committee, which had the task of gathering the historical material, documents, photographs, writings, which concerned the Jews during 1933 – 1945.

It is not yet possible to evaluate the great work that the historical commission in Germany and in Poland has achieved. It is not only material for our future historians who will write the sad history of European Jewry, but also the most beautiful headstone for our martyrs.

Our book also will be a part of the great historical material. A monument for us, a remembrance for all of the Czenstochow martyrs.

As I said earlier, I do not have the right to speak in the name of the Czenstochow kehile [organized Jewish community]. I also will not speak about what we already know, although each of us lived through something different. It would only cause renewed pain and rip open our wounds. I will not speak about them or for them. I will speak to them for you.

In the great aid work by American Jewry for the small Jewish community in Poland, Czenstochow was a link in the great chain that consisted of aid for the repressed, poor, sick children repatriated from Soviet Russia who had survived by a miracle.

Remaining alive does not mean living. Living means building, creating, working. We must help our brothers. I ask of and desire from you additional help and support and I am certain that you will continue to do your work, your best to support our landsleit and I wish you success in this work.

*

Five Hundred dollars were sent to Rome, Italy.

A Czenstochower Relief Committee was founded in Melbourne, Australia. They collected 1,200 pounds at two meetings.


Czenstochower Relief Workers in New York

A. Khrobolowski

The organizations of Czenstochow landsmanschaftn [organizations of people from the same town] in general and the aid organization in particular during their existence did a world of work. The work is described in the reports about the particular organizations. Here we will give a picture of the activities of several people who can serve as an example.

It is not yet possible to evaluate all of the meetings of Relief and the Ladies Auxiliary as to whether he was president or not, [but] the oldest, most devoted and most loyal among the Relief Workers [was] Friend Louis Szimowicz.

He was the first president of Young Men and, later, one of the pillars of Czenstochower Relief in New York and he traveled with Louis Szwarc to Czenstochow as a delegate in 1922.

Seeing everything with his own eyes while in Czenstochow, not only the dark, black times: the need and suffering of Jewish life, but also

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the light: the inspiration and will to fight of the young and the joy of the children in their own, free, bright children's home – he was strongly influenced by the new, young Czenstochow. Returning to America with renewed strength, he began the aid work for his brothers and their children in Czenstochow and has not given up the work even today.

Along with him, we need to remember those from the older generation of Relief workers for whom not their age, not their time, not their conditions in life tore them away from helping the aid work, from taking part in assisting with every undertaking, with every meeting starting with the first years, 30 years ago, until today. They are:

Itshe Zelkowicz, who remains so connected to the aid work, so rooted in Czenstochow, like a tree with the strongest roots so that no winds or storms can tear it out. And:

Sam Korpiel, who always was here and we hope will be the representative for many, many years, who represents and welcomes the Czenstochower landsleit [people from the same town] to their meetings, prepares and himself serves the food and draws pride and joy from every gathering, from every meeting.

One who had carried first the Aid Union and then Czenstochower Relief in New York on his strong shoulders is Friend Louis Szwarc. He, along with Friend Louis Szimkowicz, was one of the delegates to Czenstochow. He carried out the magnificent plan to erect the Y.L. Peretz house with iron strength and unbroken will. That the living wellspring of a poet and writer beat in him is shown by his folksy poems from his young years in Czenstochow, riper poems published in the Yiddish press in America and his work, Czenstochow Wert a Shtot [Czenstochow Becomes a City], written for the Czenstochow book and also printed in the YIVO Bleter [YIVO Pages – Jewish Scientific Institute].

Kopl Gerichter is one who embodies the strength, heroism and unlimited energy and will of the new generation of Jewish workers. He was the first one to connect the aid work in America with Czenstochow after the First World War. He was the fighting spirit at Relief, one of the most active workers in the Czenstochower Arbeter Ring [Workman's Circle] branch, later at the Jewish Peoples Order, in addition to his activity in the painters' union and other activities. Years ago a serious illness tore him away from communal life. His work will never be forgotten.

One of the most devoted aid workers from the first day of the Aid Union until today is Itsik Dikman. He was described as a child in the chapter, Czenstochow Wert a Shtot. Czenstochow certainly did not give him much luck, like many children from the ghetto. However, he repaid Czenstochow with unlimited devotion.

Khone Gliksman has always been devoted, always infatuated with the work, since the first years until now. [His wife], the shwartse [dark] Fradl, does not lag behind [in her devotion to the work].

Dovid Zisman occupies a singular and esteemed place in the aid work just as in Young Men, where he was elected president several times. He was always original, exceptional, matter–of–fact and earnest. He was and remains one of the pillars of the aid work for Czenstochow.

Sholem Oberman is a devoted aid worker who occupies a respected place in the aid work. His presence and appearance at a Relief meeting always brings pragmatism to the work.

I think that one who did not miss even one meeting of the Czenstochower landsmanschaft is the dear Friend Yisroelke Broder, who should be called Zigas because two brothers, great grandfathers of the Zigas family, were listed with two different names: Zigas and Broder. Yisroelke Broder can serve as an example of a aid worker for many of those younger than he who came to America many years later.

One who provided a great deal of work and energy to the aid relief work was Yehezkal Win. Over the course of several years, he was the secretary of Czenstochower Relief in New York and an official of the Czenstochower branch of the Jewish National Workers Union.

Abe Kaufman, the scholar of old Yidishkeit [Jewish way of life] and devoted comrade of the new movements, gave more years of work than anyone for Czenstochow. He was always the secretary of Relief. We cannot imagine that any undertaking, any meeting would have happened without him, without his work, without the information he possessed about the landsleit. As a member of the editorial committee of the book, Czenstochower Yidn, he

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contributed a great deal to collecting the historical material and, in general, helped in great measure to accomplish the great ideal of memorializing Czenstochow in a book.

The last, the most beloved is the old–young Yakov–Ber Silwer. His personality is the best evidence of the great strength of life of the Jewish folk–masses. His energy and devotion to his brothers, to whom he dedicated his entire life, merits that his name be written in golden letters in the history of our family. He was president of Czenstochower Relief in New York for several years, chairman of the executive of United Czenstochower Relief and chairman of the publication committee for the book, Czenstochower Yidn. As such, he greatly helped with the work of the editorial committee and led the work. His character is such that he has pushed forward everything in which he takes part.

*

With the founding of United Czenstochower Relief along with the previously mentioned workers, an entire group of new friends joined who excelled in the aid work.

The office of president ha been occupied by Friend Avraham Yakov Senzer since 1928. It was decided and carried out under his leadership to collect a fund of 10,000 dollars and to publish the book, Czenstochower Yidn. With his iron energy and wisdom he led Relief through the frightening times of the destruction of the Second World [War] when we were completely separated from Czenstochow and when the horrible news of the destruction of Czenstochow arrived. He held together the Czenstochower Jewish community in America at all times to be ready when the call for help would come from across the ocean. It was not an easy thing to carry out all of this, particularly for a workingman. In addition, great perseverance and tact and inborn wisdom was demanded and Avraham Senzer was blessed with it in very great measure.

Joseph Kaufman who occupied the office of finance secretary [created] very large earnings for the Czenstochow aid work in New York. A son of the Czenstochow scholar, Reb Berish Dayan [religious judge], he serves his Czenstochow community of Jews in America from the old and new home with objective advice and actions. He provided years of arduous work to Relief. He would do the work at night after a day of difficult work in his printing shop. He would often close the shop and go to a Relief meeting. But nothing was too difficult for him when it came to fulfilling the mitzvah [commandment] of fraternal aid.

Jack Kopin or Yankl Kapinski in the old home, the good comrade at Poalei–Zion [Workers of Zion – Marxist–Zionist party], of the Literary Society and Lira [literary and musical society], whom everyone loved – is the treasurer. He is the busiest relief worker at the undertakings of Relief, collecting the money for the Czenstochower Fund.

The vice president, Harry Fajerstein, together with them devoted long years of work to United Czenstochower Relief. He occupies the leadership of the work, not only with his office, but more with his generous contributions at every collection.

Max Kaminski represented the young generation in America in the aid work for Czenstochow as recording secretary. He already was president of Young Men.

A. Chrabalowski carried out the missions that the leaders, teachers and most of the children and their fathers and mothers gave him at Czenstochower Relief in New York, at the Ladies Auxiliary and in United Czenstochower Relief. He spoke, asked and demanded in their name. Now in the horrible time of the destruction of Czenstochow – the only hope and consolation that remains for all of the workers for Czenstochower fraternal aid is that Jewish children will again live there and their Yiddish language and song again will echo there and their lives will be better and nicer than [it was] for those who perished in such a terrible manner.

One of the youngest Relief workers in America is Rafal Federman. He came to America at the beginning of the Second World War and helped work on the call for aid, the cry of pain and despair from our brothers who already were squirming in the murderous teeth of Germany's murder machine. He gave a great deal of energy to the relief work as leader of the information bureau, at preparing the material for the bulletins of United Czenstochower Relief and Ladies Auxiliary, at preparing the national conference and every conference that took place over recent years; as secretary for the publication of the book and member of the editorial committee, he joined together the Czenstochower landsmanschaftn in America, in Eretz Yisroel and

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in other countries and in a very great measure contributed to the completion of the idea of a memorial book, Czenstochower Yidn.

*

The youngest of the Relief workers, Wolf Gliksman, shared in all of the horrors of Nazi rule, lived through the exterminations of Jewish Czenstochow and was saved from the lime ovens of Auschwitz and Dachau with the survivors. After coming to New York, he immediately became active in United Czenstochower Relief where he took over the work as secretary and in great measure the burden of the widespread activity demanded by Relief. He took on the leadership of the information bureau and press division of the United Czenstochower Relief Committee. Wolf Gliksman gave a great deal of energy and effort to help complete the book, Czenstochower Yidn, as a member of the editorial committee.

* * *

Dozens of more people who were active in Relief as officials and in the executive of Relief at various times deserve to be mentioned with honor. Among those who excelled are:

Izzy Berger, Morris Gelber, Joe Jacobs, Max Jacobs, Emanuel Wargon, Natan Wajsberg, Jack Liwy, Avraham Fridman, Dovid Fridman, Meir Fajner, Frajermojer, Max Kuszminski, Max Kepp, Joe Rozenblat.

* * *

Those Who Were Torn Away from Us
(Our Deceased Workers)

Our sacred duty is first of all to remember those who have left us, whom death prematurely tore away from us. May these lines in their memory be the expression of the great love and esteem felt by the entire Czenstochower family.

Harry Fajerstein died in 1936. He gave all of his free days and hours to the Czenstochower branch 261 of the Arbeter Ring, the Czenstochower Aid Union and Czenstochower Relief in New York after the difficult work in his shop. He was the treasurer of Relief until the last day of his life.

Max Korpiel died in 1936. Representative of the Young Men and Czenstochower Relief in New York and active coworker in the work of the Ladies Auxiliary. He was one of the most beloved figures among the Czenstochower landsleit. He was a sincere, good person, with a great deal of faithful devotion and connection to his brothers. The sums [of money] sent by the Ladies Auxiliary for the children's homes and other institutions would arrive under his name. And his name will always be blessed!

William Sobol died in 1936. He did a great deal of work for and was devoted to Young Men and the relief work, both at Czenstochower Relief and at the Ladies Auxiliary. He did not get tired, did not stop the work at his shop and the work for his brothers here and in Czenstochow until the last day of his life. There were differences of opinion in Czenstochower Relief in New York and every other organization, but Sobol, with his true, honest talk always calmed the mood, smoothed [things out], united us like brothers. We are all working for the same purpose; to help our brothers, he would say. And his words always worked. No one was provoked because they [his words] came from a good, Jewish heart and feeling soul…

Kay Sobol, his wife, died in 1936. Her dear face with its good–hearted smile, which was like a warm, bright fire, illuminated all Czenstochower meetings, remains so alive and shines in the hearts of everyone who knew her and it will always do so…

Skharye Lewensztajn. He died in 1936. He was a worker in Wajnberg's factory at home [in Czenstochow] and was beloved and honored by the Jewish workers as one of the leaders of the freedom movement in 1905. He also suffered a great deal in America and he left the world when he still was very young. He was active at the Young Men as finance secretary and as recording secretary at United Czenstochower Relief. Just as at home [in Czenstochow], his thoughts here were sharp, clear and intelligent. And he was listened to. His death caused a great shock for all Czenstochower landsleit. His memory will live for a long time.

Nisen Cymerman died in 1936. He sat as always at the head with his dignified persona at a meeting of Relief, stood up, pressed the hands of the friends sitting near him and left… left forever. He died on the

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way home. He also worked until his last day in his shop and was one of the younger (one of those from 1905) presidents of Young Men, the first president at the Dzialoszyner [Dzialoszyn] landmanschaft [organization of people from the same town] and the first president of the organization, United Czenstochower Relief. He possessed a great deal of wisdom and the dignity of a leader. His words were weighed and measured and, therefore, always achieved their purpose. The Czenstochower landmanschaft honors his memory every year with a meeting and he well deserves it.

Rose Dichter died in 1936. She was an active worker at the Arbeter Ring branch 261 and vice chairlady of the Ladies Auxiliary.

Meir Dembak died in 1936, also suddenly left this world [while still] young. He was a respected member and activist at the Czenstochower Arbeter–Ring branch 261 and often appeared in the name of the branch at Czenstochow meetings. His last appearance at a Relief banquet was symbolic. The danger of a fascist attack in New York had passed and the “dim–out” (dark lighting) had ended and all of the lights were turned on for the first time on the “train” [subway] on which he traveled to the banquet. He saw in this, the rise of light for the world. The soul of this dear person and comrade, like those lights, never stops shining.


The Czenstochower Synagogue in New York

Y. Kirshenbaum

All Czenstochower landsleit [people from the same town] from New York and other cities gathered together around the United Czenstochower Relief and Ladies Auxiliary. One of the addresses of the Czenstochower Jews is the “Chasam Sopher Synagogue,” 8 and 10 Clinton Street, New York in the very heart of the Galicianer neighborhood – the well known Jewish philanthropists, Jacob Schiff and Lewisohn, helped to build the synagogue.

The Czenstochower Chasam Sopher synagogue on Clinton Street is now a Galicianer synagogue. It is among the oldest synagogues in New York. The synagogue was once almost like a reform synagogue. Dr. Stephen S. Wise's father was the rabbi and Dr. Stephen Wise had his Bar Mitzvah in the synagogue. The rabbi of the synagogue is now the Rabbi, Reb Mordekhai Meyer, a student from the Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva [center of Torah study in Lublin, Poland], where the Piotrkower Rabbi, the Rabbi Szapira, was the head of the yeshiva [secondary religious school].

The officials of the school tell us the history of the Chasam Sopher Synagogue in simple words. Mr. Lieber Grill tells us that in 1886 a small synagogue with the name Chasam Sopher existed on Columbia Street that mostly was supported by Hungarian landsleit – in memory of the great Hungarian gaon [sage] of the Chasam Sopher Yeshiva. The synagogue had 200 members. And when the synagogue [building] became too small, they began to look for a larger house of prayer. And they found favor at 8-10 Clinton Street. The then named Rodeph Sholom – a real reformed synagogue in the proper manner: Jews and their wives came in “carriages” on Shabbos [Sabbath] and an organ played, accompanied by the “boys” and girls in the “choir” and so on. And even a younger Jew, did not dare to enter there and pour out his heart for God Almighty in a Jewish way. The house was bought after full negotiations and with luck renovated and immediately transformed into a real orthodox synagogue. But in the course of only two years the group split, not being able to support the great operating costs that a synagogue needs to have. More than 150 members left the synagogue and founded a lodge under the same name, Chasam Sopher Lodge. In 1890, the handful of members did everything to support the synagogue. However, it was impossible to honor the debt of the mortgage and the interest. The mortgaged was “foreclosed” on the house and Jews remained almost as if on the street without a synagogue. As in all other societies, there also were good-hearted members who carried more responsibilities than others. When ex-president, Sh. Glik who already is in the world of truth [died], saw that the house had been sold to speculators and they already had begun to pull the bricks from the walls to transform the house into a theater or cinema, he went to work and went into the street to the societies to look for partners for the broken building. In four weeks, he succeeded in saving the synagogue.

It is necessary to say that the congregation then only had 40 members.

On a secluded corner on Sherriff Street

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existed a society with the name Czenstochower Khevre [Czenstochower Society], which consisted of 15 members. Two of them, the brothers[1] D. Geizler and Yisroelke Broder, may they live long, had already been members of the society for 50 years. Despite the fact that Hungarians and Poles were never suitable in-laws, the match took place. The above-mentioned came to an understanding after several conferences with a few Jewish communal workers, such as the ex-presidents, the deceased Sh. Goldberg, H. Wilczinski and D. Geizler, may they live long; they are still members. Both societies merged.

With united strength they immediately threw themselves into worship and in addition to the joint assets, capital of thousands, they also collected contributions. As all of this was not enough, they went to Jakob H. Schiff and Lewisohn and they both donated up to 1,000 [dollars] on the condition that the society collect 25,000 dollars. They gathered penny to penny, even went through the streets with a handkerchief and visited “societies” and unions, which not only did not give anything, but they even, according to the old way in New York, did not even let the committee enter. The “soldier with the bolt [of the door]”, the “inner guard” said, “No.” The general, the president with the hammer commanded no. Even the eulogies that were given in the synagogue on Shabbosim were of little help. However, after much effort the few members gathered the sum of 18,000 dollars and the remainder was covered with mortgages. They immediately began to rebuild almost the entire synagogue, which was broken into pieces and looked like a real ruin.

Now the synagogue is one of the most beautiful and oldest synagogues in the Galicianer neighborhood.

Translator's Footnote

  1. It is probable that the use of the word “brothers” is in the sense that it was used for members of the same organization. Return


 

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Czenstochower Young Men

by Y. Kirshenbaum

The Czenstochower Young Men's Society was founded in 1888 by 18 young men, all from Czenstochow.

Not being in America for long and being small in number – there were several dozen landsleit in the entire country – they would come together every evening, after a difficult day of work, on the corner of Delancey and Norfolk Street and there the first Czenstochower Society in America was born.

Of the first founders, Joseph Hofnung, who was the recording secretary for many years and Louis Szimkowicz, who was president 30 years ago as well as at the 50th anniversary, are the most active members until this day.

And here let us remember the remaining pioneer-founders who, alas, are no longer found among the living but who will always be remembered with honor. They are:

Berl Bratman
Max Karpiel
Sam Goldberg
L. Gotayner
M. Rozenthal
V. Sobol
Sholem Cohen
Leyzer Wilinger
During the early years the members taxed themselves 10 cents a week, but without any benefits.

In 1889 the organization arranged its first theater benefit in the then great Oriental Theater. The theater activities were organized over a number of years. The income from the activities was used to support the members in case of illness.

It was not so easy to obtain support for the society. At that time the Jewish immigrant element was very different than in the later years. The Jewish immigrants of that time had not gone through the school of communal work at home. Here they knew very little about the country and its language. However, the strong will and stubbornness of the first pioneers surmounted everything.

Czenstochower Young Men became a model, not only for the later emerging organizations from Czenstochow in its area, but

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also for other cities. Today the Young Men is one of the oldest Jewish societies in the country.

Its first constitution was adopted in 1891.

The society paid its members five dollars a week sick benefits for the first 15 years. Later the benefit was raised to eight dollars a week. A shiva [period of mourning] benefit also was introduced.

Several names need to be recorded of the oldest members who have belonged to the society for over 49 years and today are active in its leadership. They are:

Jack Zajdman
Samuel Karpiel
Itshe Zelkowicz
A. Rikman
Gronem Szimkowicz
In 1900 the Society bought its first burial plot at Mount Zion Cemetery. In 1920 – its second plot at Mount Judah. In 1929 – its third plot at Beth David (Beis Dovid). The [cost of the] three plots at the cemetery reached over 30,000 dollars.

The loan fund that gave loans of up to 25 dollars without interest was founded in 1903.

 

cze283.JPG

The Czenstochower Young Men

Sitting from right to left: Mike Weiskopf, Sam Karpiel, vice president Jack Jacobs, president Al Jacobs, finance secretary Max Kaminski, treasurer Abe Pinkus, recording secretary Joe Nowak.
Standing from right to left: ex-president Karl Buchner, ex-president Robert Weinstein, ex-president Max Jacobs, membership chairman Sam Zeligman, loan-fund chairman Morris Gelber, cemetery chairman Joe Kaufman, ex-president Dave Zitman.)

 

[Page 284]

The Aid Fund was founded in 1907 to support members in case of need.

Czenstochower Young Men has supported all of the national organizations since the first year of its existence. They were one of the first to join and support the Union of Polish Jews. Young Men has paid the Polish Union one dollar a year per member for many years.

Many members of Young Men served in the American Army during the First World War. Seventy members of the Society and 24 children of members were in the American Army during the Second World War.

*
* *

During the First World War, when Czenstochower Relief was created in New York, Young Men as an organization and its individual members supported Relief in a very big way with the greatest fraternal love and devotion. They carried upon themselves the heavy load of aid work for the old home.

In 1919 Young Men organized support for Relief with 300 dollars. From then on, Young Men supported the undertakings of Relief every year with large sums of money. The sum reached 500 dollars in 1922.

The participation of Young Men in the construction of the Y. L. Peretz House in Czenstochow was important and substantial. The members of the Society taxed themselves five dollars each especially for this purpose.

The following members of Young Men are found on the memorial tablet placed into the wall of the Y.L. Peretz House with the name of those who helped to build it:

Buchner William
Zajdman Jack
Zelkowicz Itshe
Teper Izzy
Mentkow Abe
Sobol W.
Karpiel Max
Rikman Izy
Szimkowicz Louis
The Ladies Auxiliary, which occupies the most magnificent place in the history of Czenstochower fraternal aid, was originally founded by Young Men. In 1922 when Czestochower Relief decided to erect the Y. L. Peretz House in Czenstochow and it demanded limitless work, the Ladies Auxiliary joined with Relief to aid in this gigantic undertaking. However, Young Men remained the leaders and co-workers of the Ladies Auxiliary.

 

Generation After Generation

As with an entire people, an organization also shows its ability not only in that it ages, but also in that it becomes rejuvenated. This happened during the last 15 to 20 years with Czenstochower Young Men. A new, younger generation, children born here and a younger group that came later from Czenstochow, grew up and partly took over the leadership. Thus we see for example that the people who were the officials at the 30th anniversary of the organization that was celebrated on the 7th of December 1918 at the Royal Lyceum consisted of the following:

Ex-presidents:

L. Szimkowicz, H. Wilczinski, M. Rozental, G. Szimkowicz, B. Bratman, L. Wilinger, S. Goldberg, B. Gotajner, J. Zajdman, W. Sobol, M. Karpiel, I. Zelkowicz.
Officials for 1919:
President – S. Goldberg, vice-president – W. Sobol, recording secretary – J. Hafnung, finance secretary – T. Kohen, treasurer – I. Zelkowicz, first trustee – L. Wilinger, marshall – I. Zelkowicz.
However, at the 40th anniversary celebrated on the 9th of December 1928 in the Park Palace, there were several young members among the officials, such as Jack Jacobs – ex-president, Davi Zitman – second trustee and Nisen Cymerman, may he rest in peace, M. Weiskopf, A. Nirenberg, D. Wajskop, Morris Weiskopf – and the arrangements committee of the anniversary.

At the 45th anniversary held on the 24th of December 1933 in Central Plaza, David Zitman was found on the list of the ex-presidents and S. Rabinowicz, born here [in the United States] was president, Skharye Lewenstein – finance secretary, Wolf Buchner – trustee and Max Jacobs – chairman of the Aid Fund.

Other ex-presidents among the new communal workers were: Nisen Cymerman, may he rest in peace, Robert Weinstein and

[Page 285]

Max Jacobs. A series of younger members were active in the committees.

At the celebration of the 50th anniversary that was held on the 25th of December 1938 in the Manhattan Center, with the participation of 400 people – the honor of being president and recording secretary was given to the founders and oldest members of the Society – Louis Szimkowicz (president) and J. Hofnung (rec. secretary).

The other officials that year were:

Joseph Kaufman – vice-president, Skharye Lewensztajn – finance secretary, M. Weiskopf – treasurer, W. Sobol – trustee, Sam Karpiel – trustee, Sam Goldberg – cemetery chairman, Jack Jacobs – chairman of entertainment, Max Glikson, of blessed memory – chairman of the Aid Fund, Robert Weinstein – chairman of the Old Age Fund, Dave Sheier – sergeant at arms.
A group of members from the young generation took part in the arrangements committee for the 50th anniversary. Among those who took an esteemed place in the leadership of the Society were: Max Zeligman, Max Kaminski, J. Nowak, Abe Pinkus and Al Jacobs.

The leadership was transferred completely to the younger generation during the past eight years after the 50th anniversary. Most recently the leaders of the Society were: Max Jacobs, he was president for two years; Max Zeligman – two years as president; Max Kaminski – three years as president.

The officials in 1945 were:

Karl Buchner – president, M. Weiskopf – vice president, J. Nowak – recording secretary, J. Jacobs – finance secretary, D. Zitman – treasurer, J. Zajdman – trustee, S. Karpiel – trustee, R. Weinstein – chairman of the aid committee, J. Kaufman – cemetery chairman, M. Gelber – chairman of the loan fund, Max Kaminski – chairman of entertainment, Abe Pinkus – chairman of Old Jewish Fund, J. Jacobs – membership.
Newly elected officials for 1946:
Al Jacobs – president, M. Blitz – vice president, Max Kaminski – secretary, A. Pinkus – treasurer. The other officials remained the same as in 1945.
Czenstochower Young Men and United Czenstochower Relief

In another place, it has already been mentioned that United Czenstochower Relief was founded at the initiative of Young Men. Three of the first officials of U. Cz. R. were Nisen Cymerman – president, Louis Szimkowicz – treasurer, Joseph Kaufman – secretary. At the same time they were also the leaders of Young Men. Like Czenstochower Relief in New York, the same for United Czenstochower Relief; it received the greatest and strongest support both morally and materially, that is, the largest sums of money from Young Men.

The fact that Friend Joseph Kaufman in the name of Young Men contributed the sum of 1,500 dollars to the collection for Relief at the mass meeting on the 27th of May 1945 at Manhattan Center shows how great was the support of Young Men for United Czenstochower Relief. This sum was collected by an especially created committee that collected 1,000 dollars from the members and the organization allocated 500 dollars from its own treasury.

The committee consisted of the following members:

Joe Kaufman, treasurer
Max Kaminski, secretary
Karl Buchner
Morris Gelber
Al Jacobs
Joe Jacobs
Jack Jacobs
Max Jacobs
Robert Weinstein
Michael Weiskopf
David Zitman
Jack Zajdman
Abe Pinkus
Joe Nowak
Sam Karpiel

 

[Page 286]

Czenstochower Young Ladies Auxiliary in New York

by A. Litman

The women took a large part in the work of the Help Union and Czenstochower Relief in New York the entire time. No ball, no other undertaking took place without their work and help.

In 1922, through the initiative of Friend Louis Szimkowicz and other friends of the Young Men, a separate women's organization was started under the name – Czenstochower Young Ladies Auxiliary, with the goal of supporting the war orphans and poor children in Czenstochow with food and clothing.

The petition for a charter was signed by: Louis Szimkowicz, Bertha Bratman, Anna Wajskop, Zelkowicz, Katy Jackson and Rae Sobol.

The composition of the first Board of Directors consisted of: Celia Szimkowicz, Rose Wajskop, Dora Rozen, Helen Fridman, Anna Zelkowicz, Helen Lajcher, Ruth Hiler, Celia Jacobs, Rose Goldberg, Beatrice Zajdman, Gussie Jacobs, Rebecca Skowornek.

Later others joined: Lena Win, Yetta Korpiel, Anna Rips, Rose Adler, S. Foist, Minnie Korpiel, and Samuels, Gussie Lewensztajn, Wajnstajn.

Friend Louis Szimkowicz was elected the first President of the Czenstochower Young Ladies Auxiliary; Lina Win as Vice-President; Recording Secretary – Rose Adler; Finance-Secretary – Katy Jackson; Treasurer – Rae Sobel; Representative - Anna Wajskop.

Their first large undertaking was the ball that took place on the night after Shabbos [Sabbath] on the 14th of January 1923 in the Park Palace, New York.

The second chairwoman of the Czenstochower Young Ladies Auxiliary was Mrs. Anna Samuels.

Mrs. Yetta Lenczer was elected chairwoman in 1924. Vice-chairwoman - Martha Korpiel; Recording Secretary – Yetta Korpiel; Representative – Broder; Finance- Secretary and Treasurer remained the same.

Starting in 1928, the Ladies Auxiliary organized the yearly balls in partnership with Czenstochower Aid in New York.

In 1928 Mrs. Anna Samuels was elected as chairwoman, Anna Broder as vice chairman.

The arrangements committee consisted of the following ladies: Anna Nirenberg, Celia Szimkowicz, Yetta Lenczer, Martha Korpiel, Molly Gotlib, R. Moskowicz, Malka Fridman, Celia Lewental, Chana Fajersztajn, Fanny Fajersztajn, Mary Lefkowicz.

Anna Wajskop – chairwoman, Molly Gotlib – vice chairwoman, Katy Jackson – recording secretary, representatives – Florence Nirenberg, Celia Szimkowicz, Anna Broders [previously recorded as Broder] were elected as officers in 1929.

Yetta Lenczer – Chairwoman, Rebecca Skwornek [previously recorded as Skowornek] – Vice Chairwoman were elected in 1931. The remaining officers were the same.

The organizing committee consisted of Chana Manuszewicz, Anna Samuels, Sara Singer, Celia Lewental, Mary Lefkowicz, M. Hiller, Martha Korpiel, Gussie Pitman, L. Skowronek, Chana Fajersztajn.

After Czenstochower Relief in New York ceased to exist, the Ladies Auxiliary for a long time alone carried on the aid work for Czenstochow, first in order to support the Y. L. Peretz Library. Friends Louis Szimkowicz, Sam Korpiel, Sobol and Charlie Lenczer always worked with the Ladies Auxiliary. In the end, the Ladies Auxiliary, too, ceased its activities and was reorganized into a new organization with United Czenstochower Aid in New York.

The renewed Ladies Auxiliary in United Czenstochower Relief began its activities in 1936.

Until now the ladies have worked together

[Page 287]

with Relief and had their representative, Yetta Lenczer, as vice-chairwoman.

The first officers were:

Yetta Lenczer, Chairwoman; Fanny Fajersztajn, Vice-Chairwoman; Celia Jacobs – Finance-Secretary, Sura Senzer, Recording-Secretary; Glantz, Treasurer; Gussie Gelber, Chairwoman of the Activities Committee; Rae Kaufman – Treasurer of the Activities Committee; Martha Korpiel, First Representative; Kep, Second Representative.

*

The founding of the Ladies Auxiliary in 1922 begins its history in the Czentochower Landsmanschaft. Many wives whose husbands were members of various organizations belonged to the Woman's organization. The Ladies meetings often were larger than the meetings of Aid. The leaders of the Young Men participated in large numbers in the meetings of the Ladies: Friend Louis Szimkowicz, Marks Korpiel, of blessed memory, Sam Korpiel, W. Sobol, of blessed memory, Charlie Lenczer.

The most important work of the women's organization is shown by the monies sent to Czenstochow for the children's homes and folks schools that were raised by the Ladies Auxiliary itself,

 

cze287.jpg

Ladies Auxiliary at the United Czenstochower Relief Committee

Sitting from right to left: Gutsha Gelber, Sadie Senzer, Celia Jacobs, Yetta Lenczer. Fanny Fajersztajn, Martha Korpiel.
Standing from right to left: Reila Frajmoyer, Esther Kep, Celia Levy.)

 

[Page 288]

besides the sums that were transferred to the Aid for the building of a house and other purposes:

  1925  _____  $1,095
  1926  _____  $850
  1927  _____  $1,150
  1928  _____  $1,150
  1929  _____  $700

In the course of just five years a total sum of 4,945 dollars was sent.

The women and friends of Young Men who worked with the Ladies Auxiliary during the time when no aid organizations existed deserve separate recognition. The remaining members of Czenstochower Aid in New York had partly abandoned their activities because they had the ability to work together with the Ladies Auxiliary. The Ladies Auxiliary remained the only aid organization in New York that not pay attention to the severe Depression in America and the discord in the Czenstochower organization in New York and continued to perform aid work.

The newly reformed women's organization was already more closely connected to United Czenstochower Relief than before. The meetings took place in the same hall on the same evening. The Ladies Auxiliary must be recorded as doing the larger part of the work for Relief, even as both organizations jointly carried on the undertakings.

Often the joys and sufferings in the lives of Czenstochower landsleit found reverberations at the meetings and get-togethers of the Ladies Auxiliary, just as with Relief. If a member of Relief or the Ladies Auxiliary had a wedding for a child, a certain sum was spent by Relief and whiskey and hors d'oeuvres were brought to the meeting, and there was rejoicing and the parents were wished mazel-tov [good luck]. The same when a child or a grandchild was born. Just as on such an occasion, the fathers and mothers in the old home treated those praying in the synagogue or Hasidic shtibl [one-room synagogue] with cake and whiskey. If someone got sick, or God forbid, left this world – the sisters and brothers visited the mourner in his house and mourned along with him and suffered the misfortune that had been met by the Czenstochower family.

The Ladies Auxiliary also directed aid work among the landsleit in New York who found themselves in need.

*

Mrs. Anna Samuels was the first president of the Ladies Auxiliary. In later years she was again elected as president and to other offices. She was born in America, but was always ready to do everything in her power for the aid work for Czenstochow.

Yetta Lenczner, today as 30 years ago, is the most active and energetic Relief worker. She surpassed everyone with the number of years as president of the Ladies Auxiliary and there is no equal to her in the work that she gave for Czenstochow and harmony among the Czenstochower landsleit in America.

Katy Jackson, the English speaking recording secretary, in the course of many years, always added charm and energized the members of the Ladies Auxiliary.

Helen Fridman, the financial secretary of the First Ladies Auxiliary for the entire time of its existence, is the best heir of our old mothers who embodied the maternal love and goodness of the entire world.

Let us also remember the active and devoted activity of Anna Broder, as vice president and in other offices. Among the officials of the Ladies Auxiliary during recent years, Sara Senzer, recording secretary, is particularly worthy of being remembered. She excelled with her folksy Yiddish, which she brought with her from Czenstochow.

Celia Jacobs, finance secretary, Celia Szimkowicz, trustee, Anna Wajskop, chairwoman in 1929, Florence Nirenberg, trustee, Anna Nirenberg, Gussie Gelber, chairwoman of the enterprise, Rae Kaufman, treasurer of the enterprise, Kop, trustee, gave much energy and life to the aid work.

 


[Page 289]

Czenstochower Br. 261 Arbeter Ring
[Workman's Circle] in New York

by A. Litman

Thirty-seven years ago (in 1909) a group of 28 Czenstochower young people, who had settled in chaotic New York, founded a branch of the then still young workers' organization – the Arbeter Ring.

These young people were the children of the poor streets of Czenstochow, whose parents toiled in the workshops or traded in the market. The fathers and mothers dreamed that their children would, perhaps, find something better and with broken hearts they said goodbye to their children and accompanied them to the train station, from which they traveled beyond the sea, to the end of the world – to the unknown, distant America…

On arrival in the giant city of New York, the young Czenstochowers searched for a corner in which to pass the time, to come together and discuss the problems of home and the world.

True, they had then already heard that here all sorts of organizations and societies exist where landsleit [people from the same city or shtetl] come together and one feels at home. The religious Jews built synagogues in which to pray and to study a chapter of the Mishnah. The ordinary non-religious Jews founded “lodges,” “societies,” “groups of friends” that were concerned with help for the sick, preparing a grave after over 120 years [Translator's note: It is customary to wish that someone live “until 120”]… These groups of friends grew like mushrooms after a rain and they confused the circles of newly arrived immigrants in New York.

What did the new immigrant who in Czenstochow had been an artisan – a tailor, a cabinetmaker, a hat maker, an upholsterer, a baker – think of this? Here he fell into a “sweatshop” where they suffered and slaved from morning until late in the night, lived in the “tenement” districts, in the crowded, stuffy little rooms, without air and sun. Strikes would break out. The strikes would be bloody and long. The workers often lost the strike. Returning to the shops, they did not lose their courage and they did not give up hope of bettering their bitter condition.

Then the Czenstochower immigrant workers in noisy New York came to the decision that an organization must be created that would be interested in their condition, help the workers organize unions, defend their interests; at the same time, they were looking for a progressive, friendly environment. They heard the song of the poet Y. Adler (B. Kovner) who had published the song about the founding of the Arbeter Ring that was then only nine years old. This song resounded in the Jewish workers' neighborhoods with a fiery enthusiasm. The song was entitled Undzer Boim [Our Tree] and was sung as follows:

“In a winter night, a grey one,
No stars shone,
Then good people
Planted a small tree for us…”

*

The following twenty-eight young people were the first ones to conceive [of the idea] of founding a Czenstochower branch of the Arbeter Ring: Leon Fridlender, Avraham Montag, Morris Rozencwajg, Harry Szerman, Harry Frejman, Dovid Faucht, Louis Goldman, Ruwin Fajerman, Yisroel Inzelsztajn, Pinkhus Gotlib, Max Szajer, Sidney Glazner, Heimy Gotajner, Moshe Bornsztajn, Sam Silversztajn, Louis Besser, Avraham Warmund, Louis Eizner, Louis Rafalowicz, Harry Brzezinski, Shmuel Lewkowicz, William Grin, Moshe Kraus, Louis Upner and Aba Kaufman.

They came together on the 8th of February 1909 in Mrs. Szajer's house at 712 East 6th Street, New York, where the founding meeting was held.

The history of the Arbeter Ring Czenstochower branch 261 is actually the history of each branch of the Arbeter Ring in general.

The founders of our branch, 36[1] years ago, were influenced by the same ideals and dealt with the same problems as our mother organization that was then already in existence for nine years.

[Page 290]

The Arbeter Ring and Branch 261

There was a time when our branch breathed with communal life. There was a time when the branch carried out various plans whose purpose was to better the material condition of the members at a time of economic need and in case of an illness. A fund was created for local health benefits that paid three dollars a week at the start and later was raised to four dollars a week. We also created a “loan fund” and a fund to pay the bills of such members who could not do so because of need; a fund for the old that was to pay the bills of members who could no longer work. In general, the democratic spirit rules in the branch and friendship of one member with the other and everyone was one family…


Czenstochower Branch 261 Arbeter Ring

Sitting from right to left: Av. Litman, S. Richter, Y. Szubin, M. Fajner, A. Goldfinger, H. Brzezinski.
Standing from right to left: M. Wilinger, M. Sztern, P. Szwajcer, A. Kap, M. Kap and M. Gotlib

 

A Civil War Breaks Out in Our Branch

Every dispute in an organization has a destructive effect: its growth stops; it cripples its activity; it demoralizes the members and the hand of destruction gets the upper-hand…

When the branch split, 36 members officially left it. However, the storm carried away a greater number of members who were lost to the Arbeter Ring and fell into bourgeois societies.

The branch would, perhaps, have gone into a state of complete helplessness and feeling of loss if it had not found several of the older

[Page 291]

active members and the younger members who stood on the side and were not active in the branch at the time of the dispute, but after the split again became active with the wish to revitalize the branch and renew its activities. However, they were greatly hindered by the economic crisis that then began to be rampant in the country.

 

The Branch Begins to Revive

We began several plans in order to revive our branch. Two of the plans were: first, that our meeting place would move to the Bronx instead of downtown because two-thirds of the members lived there; the second plan was – to merge with another branch of the Arbeter Ring. The first was done immediately. The second – was postponed until later…

As is evident, the “changes” worked. The members began to attend the meetings; we took in a number of new members; we also took a number of wives of our members into the branch. With joy, we record that they do good work for the branch. During the course of the past few years, the branch has carried on cultural work and holds lectures on various problems. The branch has a theater undertaking for the benefit of the sick fund and finally the branch is again in the position to pay local sick benefits. Three years ago, the branch moved into a downtown apartment, on 14th Street and Broadway.

 

The Branch Supports All Worker and People's Organizations

During the course of 36 years the branch supported the following institutions and organizations: Jewish Children Schools; Arbeter-Ring branches; Young Circle League; unions and strikes; orphanages; sanitaria; convalescent homes; Old Jewish Homes; day nurseries and hospitals; Socialist Party and its press, both in America and in Europe; the Yidisher Visnshaftleker Institut [Jewish Scientific Institute – YIVO]; ORT; the Jewish Worker Committee; HIAS [Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society]; orphanage in Czenstochow; political prisoners in America and Europe; Bund in Poland; Romanian workers; Spanish People's Front; Czenstochower Relief; Jewish children's schools in Poland; cooperatives; worker lyceums; Young People's Socialist League; Deb's Fund and yet more organizations.

*

There was a bakery worker in Czenstochow who emigrated to England and lived there for 10 years. He helped found the baker's union in London. He came to America in 1907, immediately joined the local bakery union local 305 where he was active for many years and a delegate for the union. He was respected and valued by the members for his idealism and readiness to struggle for the masses. He fought for unionism, picketed and went on strike, although there was no bread in his house for his wife and children … he was torn away from his activities in the workers movement at the age of 54 and died at his post in the fight for bakery workers.

 

Our Branch in the Struggle against Fascism

A long time before the world was ignited by the Nazi barbarians in 1939, our members understood that the Fascists across the world were gathering to drown the workers movement in blood. We, therefore, supported the underground struggle against both Fascism in Italy and the half-Fascists in Poland. And when the bloody struggle broke out in Spain, our members supported the Loyalist struggle with life and soul.

When the world conflict with Fascism broke out in 1939, our branch immediately threw itself into the struggle. Our branch can with pride show that although we were only a small family of 78 households, we gave the American Army and Navy 80 young fighters on all fronts and bought war bonds for 50,000 dollars.

[Page 292]

The members of the Czenstochower Branch 261 have inscribed a beautiful chapter in the activities for the old home – for Czenstochow. Our members were the founders and builders of Relief. All of the great work for Relief were successful thanks to the fact that the members of our branch did their part.

Arbeter Ring Branch 261 did not only give financial support to Czenstochower Relief, but also leaders and guides. The secretary-treasurer of Relief, Josef Kaufman who served the organization these past years with devotion and loyalty, is a member of Arbeter Ring Branch 261. Rafael Federman, the secretary of the book committee and editorial member for the book, Czenstochower Yidn [Czenstochower Jews] – has been a member of our branch since 1941. A series of other workers for Relief, such M. Fajner, Max Wilinger, Sam Richter, M. Gotlib. Av. Hershkowicz, the late Meir Rembach and others also worked with Relief. The present finance-secretary of the branch, M. Sztern, although not a Czenstochow landsleit [person from the same town] (he is from Tomaszow), in the course of the six years he has been in office, has helped everyone in the work of Czenstochower Relief. The writer of these lines, Avraham Litman, who has been active in Relief since arriving in America, also took on the special task of waking the landsleit through the press that they should not forget Czenstochow, their home city.

When sorrowful reports arrived from Czenstochow – in 1937 – that hooligans rampaged and carried out a pogrom on the poor Jewish population, murdered five Jews and wounded several hundred, our member, Avraham Litman, appealed to the Jewish Workers' Committee in the name of Czenstochower Relief, that it should come to the aid of the victims. The Jewish Workers' Committee then granted the sum of 500 dollars for the suffering Jews in Czenstochow.

It should also be recorded here that Branch 262 of the Arbeter Ring also particularly helped the orphan's home in Czenstochow and virtually financed the orchestra of the school in Czenstochow.

*

In the present historic hour the Czenstochower Branch 261 Arbeter Ring, of course, does everything it can to help in the sacred work of revival of the survivors from Jewish Czenstochow.

Translator's Footnote

  1. In the first paragraph the number of years since the founding of the organization is given as 37. Return

 

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