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[Page 543]

The Activities of the Committee
of the Organization of Smorgon Natives

by Rafael Weinstein

Translated by Jerrold Landau

 

Committee of the Organization of Smorgon Natives, Hadera, Israel

 

What were the activities of the natives of our city in the Land for the survivors of our city of Smorgon?

Through the efforts of the veteran activist G. Weinstein, the following members gathered together: Baruch Sutzkever, Pesach Twborski, Zalman Kackowicz, Tzadok Rudnik, Batya Shein, Alta Dniszewski, and others, and founded “The Provisional Committee of the Organization of Smorgon Natives.” A large meeting was convened from amongst all the settlements in the Land in 1945. Everybody donated to the extent that they were able, giving their donations to the charitable fund that extended assistance to those in need through interest free loans. The members of the committee who worked tirelessly were not content only with the help that our fellow townsfolk extended to the survivors. The budget was insufficient. The secretary of the board, B. Sutzkever and the chairman Weinstein approached our townsfolk in the United States with a call to come quickly to the aid of their fellow townsfolk who miraculously survived the Holocaust by the skin of their teeth, and were now in serious material trouble and distress. At that time, Mr. Avraham Furseit of blessed memory stood at the help of the “Assistance Committee of Smorgonites in the United States.” He immediately answered their request, and dedicated all himself to this assistance work with all his energy. He conducted a campaign for

[Page 544]

the charitable fund. A. Furseit did not suffice himself with this. In addition, he organized the sending of packages of food and clothing to the survivors in the Land, as well as those who remained alive in the city of Smorgon. He worked incessantly and tirelessly for years. He fulfilled the commandments of “And your brother shall live with you”[1], and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”[2]. He lived up to the adage “All the people of Israel are connected to another” in the clearest practical terms. He connected the survivors with their relatives in the United States. He toiled, found them, and roused them to open their hands to their kinsfolk and fellow townsfolk.
“The Committee of Smorgon Natives” stood on its guard throughout the entire period of the Holocaust. Every survivor from Smorgon who made aliya was greeted with open arms. Everyone was given initial aid in the form of 25 liras. The committee members concerned themselves with finding lodgings, and, to the extent possible, with arranging work and livelihood. Not only this, but the committee also organized the sending of food packages to those who remained alive and returned to live in our city [of Smorgon]. May it be [the Divine] will that we will know no more war, tribulations, and grief. May we merit to see all the natives of our town Smorgon gathered and absorbed in our flourishing, growing country.

Jerusalem April 8, 1962

Translator's Footnotes

  1. Leviticus 25:36. Return
  2. Leviticus 19:18. Return


[Page 545]

The Smorgon Help Committee

by A. Tchipkin (New York)

Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay and Frieda Levin Dym

The Smorgoners in America wholeheartedly looked after the needs of their dear brothers and sisters. From time to time, other organizations would send help to Smorgon. This assistance was initiated when the need arose. Occasionally, one organization got help from several different places at one time, and others did not get any help. So this made it difficult for others to operate.

We hoped that eventually, with our help, that their situation would improve and they would no longer need our aid. We now see that they were forced to flee their land. The situation for all our people and our Smorgoners became even more sad. It became clear to us that our help, up to this time, was not sufficient and would likely become permanent. Because of the need and the poverty over there, additional help and support was of the utmost importance. It also became clear to that that more planning and organization was needed when conducting relief work.

With this knowledge, all the Smorgoners in New York, reorganized themselves. We all embarked on this Holy task: to help our unlucky brothers who were unfortunate and in such crisis. But the Relief Committee did even more, and especially, for us Smorgoners, here in America. We were definitely the “bride” amongst the Jewish American life (perhaps, treated, better)—[than] our fragmented…[1]

[Page 546]

For the first time, we Smorgoners, from all different backgrounds, came together to unite to perform this “Holy” duty. In no time, the immediate need to sustain our dear brothers on the other side of the ocean, to help them sustain their daily existence, became a priority to everyone of us. Every minute weighed heavily on our hearts and minds. It was of the utmost importance to organize ourselves and the general public to consolidate into one central committee to deliver help as soon as possible.

In order to succeed, we must forget our personal politics and work together. The Smorgon Relief Society exists, and must continue to exist.

SMORGONER! A Holy task stands in front of us--a sacrifice that stems from humanity and brotherhood!

[It is] a sacrifice. We cannot rest until our work is done!

Our brothers, our neighbours and all our friends in Smorgon, are fighting with their last breath to stay alive.

SMORGONER! You must not remain silent! You must help them. Get involved with the Smorgon Relief Committee.

Translator's Footnote

  1. A likely reference to the Smorgoner's who immigrated to America had a better life and received more help (and felt like a newly wedded “bride”) in comparison to other Jewish Americans and their torn and fragmented community back home. Return


[Pages 547-548]

The Society of Smorgon Natives in America

by Y. Miller

Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay and Frieda Levin Dym

Friends of Anshei Smorgon B'nei Chaim Avraham

In a united voice from our immigrant society, who left Czarist Russia to escape from the programs and other hardships, and who had to leave their homeland and start new lives in new places, we were once Smorgoners!

Coming to America, in a strange land, they were helpless and lost! The contrast between a little shtetl in Lita [Lithuania] and the bustle of New York was colossal. Slowly, but surely, we settled in. Now, that we have a “small piece of bread” (started earning a living), we were missing our neighbours (a friend), someone from our own (town).

On May 8, 1887, a group of Smorgoners assembled on a top floor on Hester Street and pledged to start a Smorgon Relief Committee. The first founders were: Gerhon Blum, Yehuda Anshelevitz, Zundel Rabinovitch, Rafael Schwartz, Max Elentuch, Sam Yafitz, Barnet Lapkin, Barnet Ash, Sam Alpert, Lipa Goldstein, Berl-Moishe Ashinofsky, Maurice Horowitz, Shlomo Hurwitz, Barnet Krivisky, and [?] Dlot. This handful of old immigrants, remembering their old homestead of Smorgon, with respect for their former friends and relatives in and around Smorgon, and with great respect for their learned and devoted Rabbi Chaim Avraham, used his name to found: Friends of Anshei Smorgon B'nei Chaim Avraham.

With the help of the initial group of Smorgoners, newly arrived immigrants to America had the opportunity to receive financial assistance for their daily needs. The Friends of Anshei Smorgon B'nei Chaim Avraham started to grow in size to over 200 strong. A brotherly and friendly atmosphere was created between everyone. We looked to help each other in difficult situations as well as share in each other's pride and sorrow.

After the war (World War 2), our relief committee played a very important part. It seemed that Smorgon suffered more, and since it is our town, we tried as much as possible to heal the wounds that our brothers were still haunted by. From that time forward, the Friends of Anshei B'nei Chaim Abraham undertook to involve itself in all matters concerning the town's wellbeing and livelihood and its relief societies.

With warmth, friendship and brotherhood, we, our Friends, pledged, whether in America or in our homeland, to help you in need. [The pledge was as follows:]

Our Friends, the “Mother” of all Relief Committees, welcomes you all [and] the well renowned relief committees to the Committee of the Smorgon Relief Society. We pledge to help in relief and to work hand in hand in order to improve our efforts by working together. Our common goal is to improve the lives of our brothers and sisters across the ocean.

 

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