Borech (Benny) Laskin,
former protocolsecretary of the Zinkov Society
Translated by Yael Chaver
During the first decade of the 20th century, after the failure of the first Russian revolution and the outbreak of terrible pogroms against Jews throughout Czarist Russia, many Russian Jews and their families emigrated to America. Several families of our small town, Zinkov, also left for America. Their example was followed by many young people, who became convinced that there was no hope for them if they remained in Zinkov, as there was no work and it was impossible to earn a living. As for intellectuals, they were not allowed into the upper classes of the Russian gymnaziya. There was a quota for Jewish students; besides, Jews were forbidden to live in many large Russian cities where there were gymnazyas.
This was the state of emigration to America until 1914, when the First World War broke out.
New arrivals in New York often met with their townspeople in the 7th Street park on the East Side, and exchanged news of their home town, which had come through their families. This, as well as letters, was how our Zinkov natives maintained their links to our town. This continued for a long time, until the first Zinkov immigrants died, and there was need of material help, through a Chesed shel Emes, to help bury the deceased. It was then that the natives of Zinkov first realized that they needed to establish a Zinkov Society.
Our fellow Zinkov native Morris Buchalter then very young and energetic devoted himself, with several other natives of Zinkov, to this important task. It did not take long before
the organization was established. To this day, it bears the name ZinkoverPodolier Benevolent Association. When I came to New York after the First World War, the society had about 120 members. They brought their families over from our home town; thanks to this, the Zinkover Ladies Auxiliary was created. Together, the organizations were busy helping the Jewish institutions: HIAS, the Denver Sanatorium, the Orphanage, Maot Hittin, as well as providing support to needy families. They held a ball or a theater benefit nearly every year, raising money for the support of community institutions.
Standing behind him, from right to left: Moyshe Grinman, Zala's wife, Borech (Benny) Laskin, and Moyshe Garber
During the first years after the Russian revolution, news would come from Zinkov describing hunger and want; the Zinkov Society immediately created an aid fund. Members of our society visited all the Zinkov natives here in America, collected money, clothes, and shoes, and sent everything to Zinkov. Other packages with food or tools were sent to those who asked us for help. Those who had left Zinkov and were living in other Russian cities, such as Kiev, Odessa, or Moscow, also received aid in their new locations; our Society even contributed large sums of money to the Jewish colonies in Birobidzhan. But on a much larger scale, our Society helped
to build up the Jewish homeland, the State of Israel. It began contributing this aid in the first days of the new state and is continuing to do so up to the present day. The thousands of dollars that the Society collected in the past were sent to the Histadrut and the United Jewish Appeal in America. Several projects were initiated. Money came from the Society's members, but most contributions were voluntary, from natives of Zinkov, including many who were not members. Our women's organization was also very active in the projects to benefit Israel, and earmarked some of its funds for this purpose.
This is only a short glimpse of the activities of our Zinkov Society.
On March 10, 1956, the Society celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. This occasion marked the start of a campaign to attract young members. The children of members were granted special privileges. The campaign is still ongoing. We hope that this will help us attract new energy, and ensure the Society's existence for many years to come. Below is the list of old and new activists of the Zinkov Society:
Mordkhe Zaltzman Idel Berger Yisro'el Roytburd Naftali Foyerl Zissi Burd Moyshe Garber Yankev Rigard Zissi Natenzon Moyshe Grinman Pini Saliternik Moyshe Buchalter* Max Frayfeld Yeshaya Burdman Shapse Zala** Dovid Fuks Nokhem Druker Sam Greenberg Avrom Rapoport Jack Silverman Levi Greenberg Y. Hauptman L. Bleker Philip Rozenblat B. Shiley Noyekh Shpilerman Shloyme Nesis Benny Laskin
*Active participant in the founding of the Society; Chairman for thirty years
** Devoted financial secretary for many years. Return
Translated by Yael Chaver
Our martyrs, killed in the Holocaust
Do not forget
Their blood, shed by murder
Do not forgive
For them, the last of the community
Their murder as innocents
A reminder for the generations
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