by Avraham Goldberg
Translated by Miriam Leberstein
The United Relief Committee of the Nowy Dwor landslayt [people from the same town] in the United States was founded right after World War I in response to appeals for help from our town.
The majority of Nowy Dwor Jews fled to Warsaw at the outbreak of the war, and the remainder was forced to go there by the Tsarist rulers. They arrived there homeless, and when they later returned to Nowy Dwor they found their homes in ruins and emptied out, without the necessary means to make a living. We in America began to receive letters about hunger and want from our families and friends.
The landslayt in America responded fittingly to these appeals, and we immediately got together and decided to organize a relief committee and began to send aid. The situation was especially pressing for those in Nowy Dwor who didn't have relatives in America. Our organization's initiative was the only way they could get timely assistance.
It was difficult in the beginning because most of us were newly arrived greenhorns whose economic situation was not very good. But as soon as the appeals reached us, we responded and organized the relief committee that exists to the present day.
There were two Nowy Dwor societies in New York at that time. The first, the older of the two, was the Independent Nowy Dwor Society. (In 1956 it celebrated its 50th anniversary.) It was founded by the first emigrants from Nowy Dwor, who arrived at the beginning of this century. For them, America was a magical word, full of hope, but as soon as they arrived in the Golden Land, they were disappointed, and felt abandoned and alone.
They did not encounter great success and the longing for the old home grew stronger. So several Nowy Dworers got together and decided to establish a society, following the model of the landsmanshafts [organizations of landslayt] of other towns. Their first goal was to alleviate their own loneliness and to provide mutual financial aid when needed. As noted by our esteemed landsman Friend Tasimovitsh in a report issued on the 35th anniversary of the society, The entire landsmanshaft consisted of 8 people.
In the course of time the society grew and newcomers found in it a home and friends. The society still exists and participates in all programs to benefit survivors from Nowy Dwor in Israel and other countries. The current president is Friend Joe Gertner.
The second Nowy Dwor society in New York was founded years later and was called The Progressive Nowy Dwor Young People's Society. It consisted of newly arrived immigrants who had actively participated in the various revolutionary organizations in Now Dwor. Most were active idealists, former activists in trade unions, the Bund, and the Social Zionists, who in the course of their revolutionary work suffered greatly at the hands of the Tsarist regime, were imprisoned and finally fled to America.
They arrived devastated and disappointed after the suppression of the revolutionary movements in 190506. They were seeking a social framework in which to live. They didn't consider the existing [landslayt] society to be sufficiently progressive and didn't want to join it. So they founded their own society to their liking, younger and more social.
Their meetings were quite interesting; they would have readings, discussions, and recitations. They led an intellectual cultural life and enjoyed the freedom of America, which they had never had in Tsarist Poland. This society later became a branch of the large organization, the Workmen's Circle.
This society of young people had many members who had participated in amateur theater groups while still in Nowy Dwor. After World War I, they got together again in New York. The first major fundraising effort by the Nowy Dwor United Relief Association on behalf of war victims was a production by the amateur theater troupe. They prepared a fine program, gave a good performance, and the proceeds went entirely for relief.
The troupe continued to perform, distinguishing itself particularly with the plays The Wild Man, The Kreutzer Sonata, and various oneact plays. They always had a good audience and they were so successful that other organizations would invite them to perform to raise money. The troupe consisted of Rokhl and Shaul Mogelnitski, Sam Bornstein, Ab. Liberman, Tuvie Cohen, Saul Finklestein, Abe Vronski, Hyman Knaster, Jack Apropo, Ab. Kartsovitsh, Rose and Leah Goldberg.
The theater performances were only one of the fundraising methods. At every celebratory event of a landsman a birthday, wedding, bris our representatives appeared and asked for money. Often the celebrants complained that their heartrending appeals were spoiling their joyous event, but that didn't deter us from carrying out our duty. We also raised money at the yearly balls we held, where people had a good time and the profits went for relief.
Almost all the Nowy Dworers at the time lived in and around New York, and the entire burden of relief work fell on the New Yorkers. Today we have large, active organizations of landslayt in Chicago and Los Angeles.
After World War I, when Poland gained independence, we thought our relief work would no longer be necessary, that Jews would benefit from a free Poland and live as in other democracies. But these hopes were soon dashed, when we began to receive news of Jews being thrown from trains, having their beards torn out, of pogroms and boycotts and political arrests. The young folk immediately formed a special committee to raise money for political prisoners and organized fundraisers for this purpose. The money was sent to a committee in Nowy Dwor or to the families of the arrestees. In this way, our temporary relief work became permanent and we continued with it until World War II.
When World War II broke out, we lost all contact with Nowy Dwor. From time to time we would receive vague reports of German savagery, especially toward the Jews. But no one could have imagined that the once cultured Germany would send people to gas chambers. As the war continued, the newspapers increasingly gave horrifying reports about the extermination of the Jews, about the frightful
deeds of the Germans in Europe and in the large and small towns of Poland. Our fears for our near and dear ones grew even greater.
In 1944, when we began to hear about the defeats of the German army in Russia and Western Europe, hope was revived that perhaps by some miracle our people had somehow been saved, but we soon learned the truth about the destruction and annihilation, and the main question became how to find and make contact with the few survivors from Nowy Dwor.
The first one to take on this task was our esteemed landsman and activist Sam Bornstein. He didn't wait for others but immediately began to act on his own initiative, seeking ways to make contact, writing letters to the [displaced persons] camps, publishing notices in the press, and making inquiries wherever he could, until he managed to contact some of the survivors.
We began to receive responses from the German displaced persons camps and from Warsaw and other cities in Poland about Nowy Dwor Jews, groups and individuals, who had survived and about their situation. Our committees again became active; meetings of landslayt were held in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, where we conveyed the information we had received. All of the landslayt in the United States responded very generously to our appeal and that enabled us to immediately ship food packages, clothing and medical aid to everyone who needed it.
We continued to devote a lot of effort to our relief work, until the displaced person camps in Germany were phased out and the survivors left for various countries. Most of them went to Israel and our work was therefore concentrated around the Nowy Dworers in Israel.
We contacted the Irgun Yotzei Nowy Dwor in Israel and directed our aid pursuant to the information they provided. The loan fund that we helped to establish provided loans and subsidies to our needy townsmen, but it was not enough. The immigrant survivors who had spent years without a home in the displaced persons camps required better living conditions and asked for our help in this.
We in the United States were very interested in having our Nowy Dwor survivors settled in Israel. It was then the only country that received them with open arms, and we sought suitable ways to provide them with better living conditions. To this end, we called a national conference of all the Nowy Dwor organizations in the United States.
The conference was held in Chicago, with representatives from Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. We discussed the idea of building housing on land provided by the Jewish National Fund. Some of the participants thought this was an illusion, that we were too small a landsmanshaft and wouldn't be able to raise the necessary funds. But the conference decided that yes, we would build housing for our landslayt in Israel. We zealously threw ourselves into the work, and it turned out that the optimists were correct. Everyone responded enthusiastically with contributions for this goal.
After the decision of the conference, Friend Hyman from Chicago, a member of the Central Committee, visited Israel and was in attendance when the cornerstone for the Nowy Dwor Housing was laid. Thanks to his negotiation with the Rasko Building Society, the number of apartments was increased from 20 to 24 and we unanimously approved this.
We received with joy every
piece of news about the construction of the housing. When we showed the pictures of the opening celebration to the Nowy Dworers in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, their enthusiasm was enormous. We were overjoyed with our accomplishment, with the construction and with the residents, our Nowy Dworers in Israel, whom we hadn't seen for many years, since the outbreak of the war, not knowing their fate, whether they had survived.
We could look with pride upon the fruits of our labor, how 24 Nowy Dwor families had received lovely, modern apartments. All those who attended felt exalted, knowing that their contributions had added a brick to the buildings that would eternalize our town.
When Gomulke's regime in Poland made it easier for Jews to leave for Israel, a number of our emigrants from Poland faced difficulties in settling there. Our United Committee immediately sent more money to provide loans to help the new emigrants and at our meeting we decided to construct an additional 16 apartments.
In our work between the wars we were greatly helped by our Ladies Auxiliary, the women of the societies. We have them to thank for carrying out a number of events and meetings. They brought cheer and festivity to our gatherings, seeing to it that they were welcoming, friendly, and entertaining, and thereby attracting our members and making it easier to raise money. Yes, the women were always active in and devoted to our relief work.
When Sam Bornstein and I visited Israel in September, 1959, we were empowered by the central committee in Chicago, as well as by the New York and Los Angeles committees, to inspect the living conditions of our Nowy Dworers in Israel, to assign and allocate apartments and to conduct negotiations with the Rasko Building Society.
As mentioned above, the committees in America had decided to build 16 additional apartments. But when we, along with our Israeli comrades Sholem Kartsovitsh and Eliezer Lichtenshteyn, visited our Nowy Dworers in Ramalah, Bersheva, Tabir, Sheda Yitzhak, Ashdod, and other such places and saw their living conditions in the transit camps, we decided it was necessary to increase the number of apartments.
The central committee in Chicago agreed, and we arranged for Rasko Building Society to expand its construction and erect housing on the entire territory of Nowy Dwor Housing. You haven't seen such joy as that of our landslayt when we told them about the decision. We can now say with certainty that with that decision, we met the needs of all of our landslayt who needed housing.
We participated in the ceremony of laying the cornerstone of the buildings. Almost every Nowy Dworer in Israel attended and the joy was boundless. The housing had expanded, a new Nowy Dwor was built on Israeli soil. I am sure that the enthusiasm and the experience of that celebration is eternally etched in the hearts of all who participated and will never be forgotten.
It was also a great experience for us to participate in the annual general meeting of our Nowy Dworers [in Israel]. I and my friend Sam Bornstein had the opportunity to meet with all of our townsmen who survived the Nazi inferno. We heard so many horror stories, we were overcome by their pain and suffering, the pain of people who have lost those dearest to them.
We will also never forget
the comradely reception in Nowy Dwor Housing. At every visit, we felt that we were among our own, as we had once been in Nowy Dwor. And we derived great joy from the children, rejoicing in their singing, acting, and recitations. They received us with such festivity it was unforgettable. We were overjoyed by the new generation growing up in the new Nowy Dwor built in Holon in Israel.
The Nowy Dwor landslayt in the United States were proud and full of joy that the great dream had been realized, that we had succeeded in erecting in Holon a monument to our beloved town, a place to live in fine homes with a beautiful cultural center that serves as a center for all Nowy Dwor landslayt in Israel.
Now we are about to publish the memorial book, Pinkes Nowy Dwor. All our committees in the United States are ready to help publish it and to do everything to see that that happens as soon as possible. We deal with it at every meeting and we all agree that the memorial book is the best lasting monument that we could erect for our destroyed town.
In conclusion, I want to give special mention to a series of names from our landsmanshaft in New York:
From the United Nowy Dwor Relief and Building Committee for Israel: Joe Gertner, President; Izzy Goldberg, Vice President; Saul Tashimovitsh, Secretary of the building project; Helen Apropo and Betty Gertner, cashiers; Lili Rozenshteyn, Corresponding Secretary; Rose Goldberg, Recording Secretary.
Form the Women's Division: Leah Segal, Chairwoman; Celia Apropo, ViceChairwoman.
Active participants: Hesse Tashimovitsh, Khane Rabinovitsh, Dovid and Bess Fusberg, Shloyme and Mine Konianski, Ben Rozenshteyn, Leah Goldberg, Tuvia and Reyzl Cohen, Kive and Henny Apropo, Arnold and Frances Takhne, Dvore Goldberg, Shmuel Yakov Hershfang, Ahron Teks, Hershl Goldberg, Sam Freileich, M. Rozenberg, D. Michalovitsh, Alter Kshonshko, Mendl Tashimovitsh, Abe Goldberg
|From right to left, first row: Helen Apropo, Roz Goldberg, Mrs. Gertner, Leah Segal, Essi Tashimovitsh, Mrs. Apropo, Mrs. Pasberg
Second row: Dovid Forberg, Shloyme Konianski Mrs. Konianski, Izzy Goldberg, Joe Gertner, Benny Rozenshteyn, Lili Rozenshteyn, Abe Goldberg, Saul Tashimovitsh, Shmuel Yakov Hershfang, Akiva Apropo
by Rokhl KlaynbardMarako
Translated by Miriam Leberstein
The relief committee of our Nowy Dwor society was among the most exemplary of all the charitable institutions of the halfmillion strong Jewish community in Los Angeles. A small group of landslayt [people from the same town], who had come here from various places and countries, formed an organization to be proud of.
After my first visit to Israel, I encountered in Los Angeles a group of dear landslayt who had organized in 1945 to begin the important work of sending food parcels and clothing to their relatives. I will never forget my meeting with them, on January 1, 1951, at the home of Clara and Sidney Bornstein , where they warmly received me. They listened eagerly to the first news personally conveyed from our landslayt in Israel. From that day on, every meeting of our landslayt in Los Angeles was like a holiday and we carried out our work enthusiastically.
We decided to begin a campaign, along with the committees in New York and Chicago, to build housing for Nowy Dworers in Israel.
Second row: Sophie Blake (treasurer), Clara Bornstein (corresponding secretary) Sarah Magid, Esther Binker
Third row: Meyer Blake, Sidney Bornstein, Phillip Magid (vice president), Harry Binker
At our initiative a conference was held in Chicago on August 2930, 1952. Our appeal had found a warm response. We established construction committees and we achieved what for many seemed only a dream. Through our ceaseless activity it became a reality and the name of our annihilated town Nowy Dwor was eternalized by the construction of the Nowy Dwor housing in Israel.
In addition to the work of building the housing , we also raised money for the gemila khesed [free and low cost loan] fund in Israel and also sent money to our landslayt in other countries. With devotion and love, we raised a total of $15,000. We consider our work and its results as a positive contribution to the land of Israel, and we are proud that we have been able to add another link to the golden chain of the eternal Jewish people.
The children born in our housing in Israel, in New Nowy Dwor, will be fearless and with fresh courage and new strength, will spin the thread of generations.
Strength to those who helped lay a brick of the sacred buildings and long live the names of all those who fell so we could continue to live.
Second row: Aron Katz, Fannie Katz, Clara Goodman, Zelig Bornstein, Frieda Katz, George Gold, Clara Bornstein, Mirl Gold, Sophie Blake, Berta Bornstein
by Sam Bornstein, Los Angeles
Translated by Miriam Leberstein
I still remember how Khaim Zaltzman and Tuvie Cohen noticed how lost I was right after arriving in the melting pot of my new land. They consoled and assured me that they had not melted into the pot, that they still carried in their hearts the feelings and ideas of socialism, just as in the old days when we would stroll together near the Workers' Exchange on the Warsaw Road in Nowy Dwor.
It was good to hear from my close friends, who understood how lost I felt in the huge metropolis of New York, among so many nationalities and languages. A young, naïve lad I had entered the whirlpool, not knowing one word of English. Our own people spoke a kind of halfYiddish Pidgin English, that I barely understood. I thought, Dear God, what have I gotten myself into? I don't understand the nonJews at all, and the Jews don't speak like Jews, and by the time I learn a few words of English, I'll be totally lost.
But time did its work. Gradually I learned a number of commonly used English words. I found work and began to reconcile myself to the thought that this wasn't Nowy Dwor and I would have to adapt to the customs and ways of the new land.
But deep in my soul there smoldered a longing for home, with its summer evenings, its Workers' Exchange of old, and later, the time when we began to put on theatrical performances, the festive feelings of rehearsals and the night of the performance; and, in general, my entire hometown, where my cradle stood, where I formed the first dreams of my youth, such a feeling of love for every tree, every street, every house.
Soon I began to think of returning to Nowy Dwor. I did travel there two years after coming to America. There, in my mother's house, I again felt the breath of my town, of all my near and dear ones.
The Nowy Dwor Progressive Young People's Society
Soon after I arrived in New York, the Nowy Dwor Progressive Young People's Society was organized, under the leadership of Khaim Zaltsman, Tuvie Cohen, Avraham Vronski, Saul Tashimovitsh (Tax), Hershl Zaltsman, Benny Friedman, Helen Apropo, Leybush Schwartz and others. I was the secretary.
The Society's goal was mainly to be together, to create a home for Nowy Dworers who felt alienated and uprooted in the new country, without a community and without a language. The meetings took place in a small meeting hall every third Friday evening. We young Nowy Dwor landslayt [people from the same town] could barely wait for these Friday night meetings, to get together with our dear, friendly members. There I would encounter my close friends Khaim Zaltsman, Avraham Vronski , Avraham Liberman (Loketsh) and Hershl Zaltsman. Later, there came Avraham Goldberg, the son of Sime Ite's, the very close friend of my youth.
Avraham Goldberg had already spent some time in the American South, where his sister lived. After he came to New York, he became an active member of the Ladies Garment Workers Union. He and I would often
get together at important meetings, concert, or just over a friendly glass of wine, to discuss issues of the day or talk about our shared past.
Our outlooks diverged as the years passed and our differences would sometimes result in anger, but our friendship prevailed. We were bound by the best years of our life, the dawn of our lives in Nowy Dwor and later events, when we went hungry in Warsaw. So it was really a joy when Avreml (as I called him) turned up at a meeting of the Nowy Dwor Society.
At every meeting we would first discuss the news from the old home, as related in the letters we received from friends and family, and only then would we turn to matters about our lives here, or about help for our landslayt back home.
The relief work for Nowy Dwor
When we received the news about the situation in Nowy Dwor during World War I, a small group of landslayt in New York organized a relief society for the victims of war there. The initiators were Khaim Zaltsman, Avraham Goldberg, Tuvie Cohen, Avraham Vronski, Khaim Knaster, Hershl Zaltsman and Helen Apropo. We called a meeting of the leaders of the Nowy Dwor Independent Society and several members of the Young People's Society to consider a plan for joint relief work. In addition to the above mentioned initiators from Young Nowy Dwor, the following representatives from the Independent Society participated: Yerakhmiel Apropo, Khatskl Kartsovitsh, Leyb Fuks,Motl Stone and others. It was unanimously decided to begin a united campaign to help the war victims, to be called the United Nowy Dwor Relief Committee. Sam Bornstein was elected secretary and Yerakhmiel Apropo treasurer.
The reports of the Relief Society describe the work of this period. I find it necessary to note only that this small group of faithful and devoted Nowy Dwor Jews managed to inspire our landslayt in all parts of the United States to carry out our obligation to the war victims of our old home.
When America entered World War I, I joined the American army and could no longer serve as secretary of the committee. But I always maintained contact with the leadership by mail. When the armistice was signed, I was granted a furlough and came to New York to attend a meeting of my landslayt. The attendees responded very warmly to my appeal for aid. I was very impressed when a poor iron worker, Isser Novodworski, ran up to the stage and handed over his contribution a $10 bill with a blessing: Here, Sam, send this off, and may you be granted strength. Yes, it was a fine, warm audience that came to our meetings and everyone was ready to give beyond his means.
Among all the campaigns we conducted during and after the war, there were two theater performances in a large hall, performed by our own members, who had participated in amateur theater while still in Nowy Dwor. Here we put on The Wild Man and Kreutzer Sonata, both by Jacob Gordin, with the participation of
Shaul Mogelnitski, Avraham LoketshLiberman, Khaim Knaster, Sam Bornstein, Jack and Lily Apropo and Miss Sonia (a very talented actress, not from Nowy Dwor.) Both plays were performed with great success under the direction of Shaul Mogelnitski.
The performances were financially helpful, and they also served as a continuation of our former cultural activities in Nowy Dwor.
At the end of World War I, when I was decommissioned and we all were trying to find a way to reconnect with Nowy Dwor, my first step was to let my father know that I had spilled no blood during the war. It had turned out that because the Spanish Flu had raged through the army camp they did not send us to the battlefield and I did not participate in the fighting. In the picture I sent my father, in which I wore my army uniform, I inscribed it with a passage from the Bible, Our hands did not shed this blood… [Deuterotomy 21:7], thus expressing my joy that I had lived through the war without shedding blood.
As soon as the war was over, we all turned with renewed strength to the work of raising money for the needy Jews in Nowy Dwor. Details of this work will surely be reflected in the reports of our Nowy Dwor organizations in America.
Beginning in 1938, on the eve of the Second World War, I became a permanent resident of Los Angeles. The small group of Nowy Dworers there organized a relief committee and after the war did a lot of important work to provide the survivors with food and clothing.
An important effort was the searching out of relatives of the surviving Nowy Dworers and putting them in contact, wherever in the world they might be. When we made contact with the Nowy Dwor survivors in Poland, Germany, Italy and Austria, putting them in contact with family was one of the most important things we could do. In every letter from survivors we heard the same thing: I am the only one left of my family. Against this tragic background it was a joy and satisfaction to receive thank you letters and blessings for our efforts in bringing together personally or via letters those who had lost or been separated from their destroyed families.
Thanks to my work in seeking out relatives, I made contact with Helen (Khayke) Grinblatt in South Africa. I had no good news for her; I knew that no one from the Gersht family had survived. But we continued to maintain contact, corresponding about the needs of the survivors of Nowy Dwor. Helen Grinblatt demonstrated her readiness to help, in the beginning by contributing money for the first memorial book and later, in her famous will, in which she bequested a sum of money to the Jewish National Fund for land on which to build a refuge for the Nowy Dwor landslayt in Israel.
Friend Dov First deserves much praise for his efforts to obtain the land from the Jewish National Fund for the housing. The Fund, despite the large bequest of 19,500 English pounds, was in no rush to fulfill the testator's will and to give the land for housing. But thanks to the tireless effort of Dov First, the project was successfully brought to fruition.
When I visited Israel in 1957
my heart swelled with joy when I saw the splendid modern homes of the Nowy Dwor housing in Holon. I had the honor to attend the ceremony for the laying of the cornerstone for the construction of the new housing; my joy was boundless.
I rejoice that over the years I have contributed to this work, together with Dov First and Khaim Zaltzman, who actually laid the cornerstone for the first construction project. It is a profound experience to see how 47 of the surviving families, after long years of suffering and wandering, finally found a refuge in the land of Israel.
I see before me this great accomplishment the 47 apartments and the splendid cultural center, with 150 seats, a true place of refuge.
From the depths of my heart, I bless you. This is after all the last and only remainder of our past, of the beloved town of our birth, Nowy Dwor.
Standing: Rokhl Mogelnitski,Sonia Weisman, Sam Bornstein, Shloyme FInkleshteyn, Ruzhke Goldshmidt, Khaim Knaster
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