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This material is protected by U.S. copyright law. © Rhoda Kuflik, 2022

[Page 204]

Final Word

Ezekiel 37, according to the translation of Yehoash

Throughout the Polish fields and forests, among the mountains and valleys of Galicia and Ukraine, there lie, spread far and wide as a remembrance of the once great Jewish settlement in Poland – a long chain of large and small mass-graves. In these graves rest the bones of the millions of Jewish martyrs who perished in a brutal manner at the hands of the German murderers and their Ukrainian helpers during the blood war years of 1942-1944.

In the overgrown pass graves, under young saplings and grasses, lie the dried bones of our dear and unforgettable sisters and brothers. They rest there and wait until the vision of the prophet Ezekiel, by the river Chebar, shall be fulfilled.

“And he set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones.
And caused me to pass by them round about: and behold there were very many in the
open valley; and lo, they were very dry.
And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live?
And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.
Again, he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them,
O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.

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Thus, saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath
To enter into you, and you shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you.

* * *

And say to the wind, Thus, saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath,
And breathe upon these slain, that they may live.
So, I prophesised as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived,
and stood upon their feet, an exceeding great army.
Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel:
Behold, they say. Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost; we are cut off.
Therefore, prophesy and say unto them, Thus, saith the Lord God;
Behold, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves,
And bring you to the land of Israel.

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[Page 207]

First Kittever Illness Support Association in New York
On Its Sixty Year Jubilee

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[Page 209]

First Kittever Support Association of N.Y.
(On its Sixty Year Jubilee)

After the dreadful destruction of Kittev, after the Germans and the Ukrainians did in the years 1942 and 1943, destroy all the Jews in a gruesome manner and, thereby, destroyed every trace of Jews and remnant of Jewish life in the historic city, afterward, the Kittever Association of New York remained as the only organized group of Kittever Jews which carries on a many-branched social-philanthropic work under the name: “Kittever Sick and Benevolent Society of New York”. (This name is in English, written with Yiddish letters).

The history of the Kittever Association in New York began in the year 1897 when the Kittever pioneers who had immigrated to America organized and founded the first Kittever illness-support organization.

The first Jewish immigrants from Kittev to America in the last years of the 19th century, were children of poor parents who lived in Kittev in want and poverty. When they grew up and considered their situation, they came to the conclusion that in the small and backward Kittev, without the necessary schools and institutions of education, there was no future for them. They sought ways to break out of poverty and backwardness and to forge for themselves a better existence.

At that time, the first reports about life in the “Golden Medina” reached Kittev. In free America, the land which is the place of refuge for all the oppressed and persecuted, the land which greets with open arms every person without discrimination as to religion or race, the land of limitless possibilities

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where everyone according to his talents can work himself up and even get rich, and the main thing, where every can live and conduct himself according to his conscience and persuasion.

During the first few years, the Kittever landsleit in New York did not lick honey. It was natural that people who came from a small town, where everyone knew everyone, should feel lonely in the big and noisy New York.

Lacking the language of the land, without relatives and friends but full of confidence in their pioneering mission, our first Kittever set to work. They worked under the most difficult conditions, in various shops, 12-14 hours a day. Mostly, they slept at their places of work fearing that if they left the spot, someone else would take their place. In the hardest of conditions of sweat-shops, the Jews of Kittev worked and dreamed of a better and easier tomorrow for themselves and their families. Thus, they worked day-in-day out, saved on food and piled together a dollar-to-a-dollar in order to help their relatives in the old home.

When the Kittever immigrants became somewhat acclimatized, they began to think and look for ways to bring over their relatives from the old home. They also planned on how to get together from time-to-time and mutually help each other and generally, on how to create a Kittever environment in great New York. Then, in the year 1897, the first few Kittever landsleit of New York came together and established the first Kittever illness-support organization.

The tasks and aims which the organization set for itself were: to help the sick and need members here, locally, and to establish a continuing programme of assistance for the poor classes of Jews in the old home. In the year 1897, the organization numbered ten members but thanks to informational activity and constructive aid

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for members, and also thanks to the growing immigration, the number of members grew from day-to-day and year-to-year. In the year 1937, the Kittever organization numbered 135 member families. Not all the Kittever Jews of New York belong to the Kittever organization and only a small proportion of Kittever landsleit outside of New York are members of the organization.

During its 60 years of existence, the Kittever organization has fulfilled the aims for which the first immigrants from Kittev founded the organization and the responsibilities which they assumed on behalf of their members and landsleit – fulfilled them fully and even surpassed them.

The organization is a thoroughly democratic one. The organizational work, the various aid activities and all the work within and outside the organization are carried out in a completely democratic fashion. At the meetings which are held once a month, all current questions and problems affecting the organization are discussed and decided democratically and every member can express his opinion and vote for or against.

The organization conducts elections once a year in the months of November and December. Before the elections, first and second nominations are made and members can nominate candidate for each office. After this, the elections are held and the leaders of the organization for the coming year are elected by majority vote.

The regular income of the organization comes from the fee which each member pays every quarter. In order to cover the necessary special expenses, the members are assessed a special tax or they collect the necessary sum through voluntary contributions.

The main regular benefits which the organization gives to its members are financial aid, sick benefit, death benefit, cemetery lots, their own Synagogue and so on.

Before the war, the organization used to send to Kittev each year

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money for Maos Chittim (money for what – the designation for Passover supplies) and yearly subsidies for the Kittever charity institutions and for the religious necessities of the Jews of Kittev.

Aside from aid to the home city, the organization also provided annual subsidies to local Jewish philanthropic institutions such as HIAS, Joint, United Jewish Appeal and others.

After World War I, when the Kittever Jews had left the city for fear of the Cossacks, returned and found their homes destroyed; when the misery and poverty among the widows and orphans; victims of the horrible war were great, the Kittever organization of New York extended its brotherly hand across the sea and sent generous help to alleviate the neediness and suffering of the impoverished Jews of Kittev.

Besides the financial aid which the organization sent at that time, it also helped to solve one of the painful post-war problems in Kittev which was that of the poor Jewish orphans. Thanks to the sizeable amount that the organization sent to Kittev for this purpose, and thanks to the energetic work of the martyrs, Dr. Marcus Alesker and my friend Eisig Grebler, the Jewish orphans' home was founded in Kittev which was a warm home and education institution as well as a trade school for the Jewish orphans.

In the year 1925, the Association also sent money which was used to buy a house opposite the Chassidic Bet Midrash, wherein a factory for rugs was set up and where the orphans learned the trade and became skilled workmen.

After the great national catastrophe, the horrible war-years 1939-1944 when only a small number of our landsleit (countrymen) succeeded in saving themselves from certain death, began to wander from country-to-country, city-to-city, homeless and rootless, hungry and naked, without a roof over their head, in the hour of destiny for the surviving remnant of Kittev, the small Kittever Association of New York proved, through deeds that it was equal to the historic

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role which the Jewish national destiny had placed upon it. The association gave help at that time for which it truly deserves great recognition.

In various ways and in rapid and effective fashion, the association sent aid for every landsman. Whatever was needed was sent: medication, clothing, cash. The association also helped to connect the remaining landsleit with the near ones.

Since the end of the last World War, our landsleit who settled in Israel, stay in communication with the Association in New York. They turn to us with their requests and problems and the Association attempts to comply with the requests as much as possible and in general, exhibits great interest in every landsman who was saved.

Here, we must mention with special recognition, the aid activity which the Kittev Ladies Auxiliary, under the leadership of its dynamic President, Ray Haitt, has carried out during the past ten years for the Association and the Kittever landsleit.

Let us declare here that, without the cooperation and assistance of the Ladies Auxiliary, the Association would have been unable to carry through its aid programme in such a broad scope. The women of the Ladies Auxiliary understood how to utilize each suitable opportunity to raise funds, such as Yizkor appeals, a Maos Chitim campaign, “card parties”, which they especially organized. Every enterprise of the women was highly successful and produced the desired results. For its wonderful work, therefore, the Ladies Auxiliary has earned the recognition and won the respect of all Kittever landsleit.

In the confines of one chapter, it is understandably impossible to describe all the leaders, presidents and secretaries of the Association such as: Simcha Zwiebach, Max Reiser, Joseph Hebl, Isidor Eisenberg and others and all the active members who, from the first day of the Association's existence until today, with perseverance and endurance,

[Page 214]

have helped to build and develop the Association and to form it into an aid institution that is the pride of every Kittever landsman. Therefore, I will mention just a few long-time active members who lead the Association today and are the chief pillars of the organizational work.

Our long-time president, Willie Soifer, possesses all the good qualities which a responsible president of such an association should have. He is a friendly and good-natured person who always has a good word for every member. He exhibits a lot of patience at the sessions of the Association, even toward the temperamental members, and always strives to find a way to fulfil the requests of its members.

Besides his duties as president, Willie Soifer also faithfully carries out his duties as the long-time hospital visitor of the Association. When a member becomes ill, Willie is the first one who feels a responsibility to the patient. He visits him at home or in hospital and does what he can to help.

The vice-president of the Association, Morris Haitt, also takes an active part in every activity. He has exhibited particular understanding and interest in the campaigns which were carried out to perpetuate the memory of the Kittever martyrs. Morris Haitt supported and energetically carried out the plan to unveil a large gravestone, a monument to the Kittever holy martyrs, on the grounds of the new Kittev cemetery on Montefiore Cemetery.

Kalman Shnapf is the long-time recording secretary (protocol secretary) of the Association.

He is the best interpreter of the Association's constitution which serves as a sort of Oral Law which the old guard had worked out. Kalman has years of faithful work behind him for the Kittever Association.

The long-time chairman of relief in the Association is Nathan Gottlieb. This is a person with a warm Jewish heard and a sympathetic Jewish soul. Of him it can be said: Good is it for the landsmanshaft (association of countrymen)

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that has such a landsman and happy is the association that possesses such a member. The relief work gives meaning to his life and his life is one great and wonderful story of relief work.

I recall on this occasion the dreadful post-war years when I and my family, together with hundreds more refugees, among the Kittever people, found ourselves in 1947 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. While there, I heard from a landsman about the Kittever Association in New York and the help it gave the refugees. I did not know Nathan and he also did not know me from Kittev. Nevertheless, I wrote to him a letter and how astonished I was to receive, by return airmail, a letter with a check. More important than the check was the warm tone of the letter which made us feel that we were not deserted in time of trouble. And that in the Kittever Association, we had faithful sisters and brothers, landsleit who were ready to help us.

During the post-war years, Nathan Gottlieb stood on guard and sent aid to every surviving Kittever landsman wherever he found himself – Israel, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Romania and other countries. Nathan's house was then transformed into a great warehouse where all the members brought various clothing and footwear. Gottlieb and his late wife, Dora, peace be upon her, and their children worked day and night packing packages and sending them off to the sufferers in Europe.

Nathan Gottlieb continues his aid-activity and when he receives a letter from a landsman urgently asking for help, he does not wait to find out from the Association if the needed funds are available, but immediately sends off what is requested. He says: “If the Association won't reimburse me, I'll survive. I must not keep the landsman who needs help waiting”!

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I am sure that every member of the Association is proud of such a devoted relief chairman and gives him recognition and send him the heartiest blessing and good wishes for his great work.

I attempt to fulfil the duties of secretary of the Association and do my work with love and devotion. I do it because I consider the Association which bears the name of our despoiled and destroyed city as the only living remembrance of the city which is so beloved and dear to me as it is to everyone.

The holy principle of brother love, understanding and readiness to help every landsman, is the main motive which moves me to make my contribution to the Association and is the chief reason for my attachment to my landsleit.

This is briefly the summation of the first 60 years of activity of the Kittever sickness support association in New York. Sixty years of great historical world-events, years of war and revolutions, years which had such dreadful consequences for the Jewish people.

During World War II, we experienced the most dreadful tragedy in our history of martyrdom. We lost six million of our Jewish sisters and brothers. We also lived to see the most beautiful and exalted miracle when the 2,000-years' dream of the Jews came true and Jews are again a free nation in their historic homeland – Israel.

During these historic years, the small Kittever Association fulfilled completely its historic mission. As an association of Kittever landsleit, it was a bright haven in the stormy sea of suffering of our sisters and brothers who suffered in the two dreadful World Wars. The Association also participated actively in helping Israel.

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This year, at the 60th anniversary of the Kittever Association, when we write the balance sheet and sum up the total of the years that have passed, when we analyse and appraise all the historic events and their meaning, we are convinced that we may be justly proud. We are happy that our 60th anniversary falls in the same year as the 10th anniversary of the State of Israel which received with open arms the scattered and wandering children of our people, among them, also the homeless children of Kittev.

We stand with a silent prayer in our hearts and thank God that have lived to see these two anniversary dates. We wish all our members: may we all together and for many more years, be able to continue the fraternal and philanthropic work which have done for 60 whole years; and may we live to celebrate many more joyous jubilees and Jewish national celebrations.

[Page 218]

Tenth Anniversary
of the Kittev Ladies Relief Auxiliary

The first Ladies Auxiliary of the Kittever Association was organized right after World War I, in the years 1918-1919. But after a few years' work, having accomplished its mission to help collect the needed funds for the war-impoverished and despoiled Jews in Kittev, it dissolved and liquidated itself.

The current Ladies Auxiliary organized itself in the final months of the year 1947. This was in the post-war years of 1945-1947 when every Jewish heart would tremble with pain and hope at every report which came from Europe and at every single letter that arrived from a surviving countryman. This was in the post-war years when every American Jew and Kittever landsleit among them besieged their Landsman-societies in the hope of obtaining some information about the fate of their nearest and dearest in Europe.

And when the first letters from individual surviving landsleit began arriving, heart-rending letters which confirmed the awful truth of our great disaster, letters in which the persecuted homeless ones begged for urgent help to barely sustain their tortured lives; then; in the seriousness of the time, our Kittever ladies showed their understanding and compassion for the painful problem of our surviving landsleit and volunteered to work with and assist the Kittever Association in the sacred task of aiding our landsleit. At that time, they organized for this purpose and established the Kittev Ladies Relief Auxiliary.

The founding meeting of the Ladies Auxiliary was held on November 2, 1947 at the home of Mrs. Rosa Goldhagen and the participants were the following members of the founding committee:

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Mrs. D. Haitt, Mrs. Dora Gottlieb, Mrs. L. Haitt, Mrs. E. Hechler, Mrs. B. Ball, Mrs. B. Goldapper, Mrs. W. Soifer, Mrs. Goldhagen and Mrs. Zwiebach.

Elections were held and the following were elected: As President, Mrs. Raie Haitt; as Vice-President, Mrs. B. Shechter, as Treasurer, Mrs. P. Hallem and as Secretary, Mrs. L. Klinger.

At the above founding meeting, a complete working programme was also set up and the necessary plans were made for recruiting more members and raising funds.

The first two public undertakings of the Ladies Auxiliary were the printing of the first “raffle” books and the scheduling of a public card-party in the Schiff centre in the Bronx.

Both activities were very successful. They popularized the work of the Ladies Auxiliary among the Kittever ladies and the number of members kept increasing unceasingly.

In this way, thanks to its excellent organizational work, the Kittev Ladies Relief Auxiliary succeeded in organizing nearly all Kittever women and making them active in the aid activity for the Association and the landsleit.

Since then and even today, the Ladies Auxiliary carries on an independent and well-organized philanthropic action. They hold their plenary meetings each month and once a year, they hold elections for their officers.

In the latest elections, the following officers were chosen: Mrs. Rae Haitt, President; Mrs. Bella Shechter, Vice-President; Mrs. Elsa Neiman, Secretary and Mrs. Frieda Hallem, Treasurer. The long-term Chairman of Relief is Mr. Nathan Gottlieb.

Prominent among the active members of the Kittev Ladies Auxiliary are:

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Mrs. B. Ball, Mrs. Birnberg, Mrs. Anchelovitch, Mrs. L. Bogish, Mrs. M. Cherner, Mrs. G. Eisenberg, Mrs. H. Freimoirer, Mrs. B. Goldopper, Mrs. Ethel Glossberg, Mrs. R. Goldschmid, Mrs. M. Gottlieb, Mrs. Grosbard, Mrs. A. Goldschmid, Mrs. D. Goldhagen, Mrs. P. Hallem, Mrs. R. Haitt, Mrs. Z. Haitt, Mrs. L. Haitt, Mrs. J. Hager, Mrs. Ethel Hutner, Mrs. A. Held, Mrs. Lillian Klinger, Mrs. Rae Mandel, Mrs. Rosa Mandel, Mrs. Elsa Neiman; Mrs. Anna Novack, Mrs. R. Peltz, Mrs. R. Rosenfeld, Mrs. P. Rechter, Mrs. M. Reiser, Mrs. M. Singer, Mrs. B. Shechter, Mrs. G. Seiderer, Mrs. B. Shnapf, Mrs. Sarah Soifer, Mrs. A. Weiss, Mrs. Weinstein, Mrs. A. Zablatover, Mrs. V. Zarref, Mrs. Zwiebel and others.

This year, at the 10th anniversary of the Kittev Ladies Relief Auxiliary, when we assess the sum-total of their service, we can all aver with pride that in the first decade of their existence, with their organizational publicity and their social philanthropic work, they have shown great achievement and thus have earned great recognition and thanks from all our members and landsleit.

Utilizing the present opportunity, that of their 10th anniversary, we wish here, in the name of the Kittever Association and all its members and landsleit, to express our great confidence and recognition to the officers and members of the Kittev Ladies Relief Organization for their wonderful service and wish them all success in their work and much happiness and joy in their family lives.

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November 20th, 1958

To our most honoured Secretary

Brother Eisig Husen!

At our last meeting on November 9th, 1958, it was decided to express our thanks and recognition for your devoted work as Secretary of our Society and in particular, to salute you for writing the Kittever Yizkor Book.

Through your work as Secretary and with your experience in the field of organizational activity, you have brought new life and interest into the work of our Association. With your warm and brotherly attitude toward every one of our members, you have earned the friendship and the respect of us all.

In the Yizkor Book, into which you have poured so much heart and soul, and which is written in a beautiful folksy-style, you have immortalized the greatest beauty which Jewish Kittev represented. You have, thereby, brought honour to and exalted the prestige of our Society and thus earned the eternal gratitude and recognition and the heartfelt blessings of all Kittever landsleit for whom the memory of the martyrs of Kittev is holy and dear.

We wish to assure you, dear brother Husen, that all the members value your contribution and are proud to have a secretary like you! On my behalf and on behalf of all our members, I want to wish you and your dear family, many healthy and happy years. May we altogether continue for many years our creative work for the welfare of all the members.

Willie Soifer


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