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[Page 515]

Nowy Dworers in Canada

Translated by Miriam Leberstein

 

now515.jpg
Khaim and Blima Berger

 

There aren't many Nowy Dworers in Canada. They came there after World War II and settled mostly in Toronto. Among the first who contacted the committee in Israel were Sholem Top and Shloyme Kartsovitsh. They contributed as much as they could and also collected money for the building of the Nowy Dwor housing in Israel.

Later, Khaim Berger, one of our most active members to the present day, responded. He and his family are like a Nowy Dwor committee of their own in Toronto. He, his wife Blima and their sons Shloyme and Yerachmiel demonstrate great devotion at every meeting, not only among Nowy Dworers but also with people not from Nowy Dwor with whom the Bergers have friendly and social relationships.

In a comradely letter to Israel, Khaim Berger wrote: “I myself am among those who lived through the Nazi hell. I am a living witness of the heroic battles in the Warsaw ghetto, of what people had to go through before dying at the hands of the Nazis. For that reason I understand what it means to help the survivors. It is our task to continue the important work, as people with human souls who lost 6 million of our own. I myself have to my great sorrow lost five brothers and one sister and their families. I have made a vow that as long as my strength permits I will continue this relief work.”

And Khaim Berger wrote of his work in Toronto: “For a short time we managed to establish a committee of the 18 Nowy Dwor families who live in Toronto. After much effort I obtained the address of the secretary of the Nowy Dwor organization in Israel and I received a letter from him about the need for aid. I responded, distributing appeals with my own hands.”

We here [in Israel] know that Khaim Berger's words, “I responded” and “distributing appeals with my own hands” represent his tireless work, appealing to Jews and non–Jews in Toronto, turning to Jewish organizations, to the Canadian Jewish Congress, to the Immigrant Aid Society, neglecting his own business and devoting countless hours for the benefit of the communal needs of Nowy Dworers.

We join in the wish of our devoted activist in Canada: “My hope is that I and my family will meet with you face to face in Israel, that we will see with our own eyes the achievement of our Nowy Dwor landslayt, that we will see Israel with all its achievements, and in so doing strengthen our ties in friendship.”


[Page 516]

Nowy Dworers in Argentina

by Nakhman Novodvorski, Buenos Aires

Translated by Miriam Leberstein

The first Nowy Dworers came to Argentina after 1905. There weren't any Nowy Dworers in the earlier groups of immigrants, among whom were a lot of “unkosher” elements, [1] because who then wanted to travel to a land that was “beyond the black mountains” [most remote region of the beyond], a land with a capital called Buenos Aires, or as my father jokingly called it, bnoys zayres, making a pun on the Yiddish words denoting dissolute women.

Only after relations between Argentina and its northern neighbor, the United States, were normalized, and after the anti–Semitic policies of the Polish government deprived the Jews in general and Jewish youth in particular of any economic prospects, did Argentina, of necessity, become acceptable as a place of refuge.

The largest stream of emigrants from Nowy Dwor came after the Polish–Bolshevik War of 1920. A large number also came after the Holocaust, not directly, but through Uruguay and Bolivia, because of the discriminatory policy of the Argentine leaders who already were displaying Nazi sympathies.

*

The first efforts to organize the Nowy Dworers in a landslayt society were made in 1927 and again after my arrival in 1928. I didn't yet grasp the ways of communal activism and most of all didn't find it necessary to confine myself to a milieu of landslayt, people of various ages, social status, and culture. The organization that was formed then did not last long because of the small number of members and also because of the rudeness of one of the leaders.

Because other landslayt societies also had too few members, they began to form societies that included landslayt from neighboring towns and entire regions. Thus, in 1938 we formed “The Society of Mlave, Nowy Dwor and Vicinity,” which included people from Jablanna, Nowy Dwor, Tshekhanow, Pruzhnitz, Kharzhel, Stuzhegovo and Mlave, with a membership of 110. We even formed a relief committee for the entire Mazower Region (under my chairmanship) but because of divisions in the Jewish community, the committee did not last long.

The indifference of Jewish youth to such organizations as the landslayt society and the discontinuation of emigration were two important obstacles to the work of the landsmanshaft. Our activity continued to diminish, and we compared ourselves to the generation of Jews who wandered in the desert, our tribe growing smaller every day.

The Nowy Dworers in Argentina today number 44 in Buenos Aires, 7 in Rosario, 4 in Mendoza, 4 in Corrientes and 2 in Cordova.

*

The main purpose of organizing the landslayt society was emotional more than economic. The longing for our home and the desire to sustain the community of the past was a larger factor than the desire for an interest free loan from the loan fund. But as our families grew, the interest in maintaining relationships with landslayt decreased.

The kinds of cultural programs we had conducted

[Page 517]

in the early years (with Joseph Opatashu when he visited and with Avraham Solomon) as well as the New Year's celebrations and anniversary banquets to raise money, were now things of the past.

Also in the past were the group visits to the cemetery (in Elul or Tishri) at the monument for the martyrs where we had set up a bronze plaque for our annihilated community. The only concrete remainder is the loan fund which is about to be liquidated.

It must be emphasized, however, that as regards our relief work, our efforts after World War II were outstanding, especially on behalf of landslayt in Israel. According to the reports of Dov First, the secretary [of the landslayt society in Israel], the Argentinians held the most prominent place in relief work.

In the most recent campaigns for the cultural center in the Nowy Dwor houses, and for the yizkor book, the Argentinian landslayt, despite their difficult economic situation, responded very positively.

May the yizkor book serve as a monument for the activists and landslayt who did not live to see its publication. May it serve to connect all landslayt until the ingathering of all Jews in exile, those landslayt scattered far and wide over the world.

[Page 518]

 

now518a.jpg
Nowy Dwor landsmanshaft in Argentina
From right, seated: Frieda Novodvorski–De Brenman, Moyshe Brenman, Efrem Migdal, Khashke Zakheim–De Novodvorski, Nakhman Novodvorski, Avraham Zaltsman, Motl Gutman
Standing: Ester Friedman–De Eydlsberg, Pola Yerazalimska–De Shaynman, Fradl Valenskovska–De Gutman, Yenkl Gutman, Sholem Novodvorski, Ester Top, Rivka Landsman,
Yehiel Kalmanovitsh, Shimen Mastrovitsh, Rivka Novodvorski – de Kalmanovitsh, Yehudit Levin – De Krayzler, Khane Top, Elke Top [2]

 

now518b.jpg
The Nowy Dwor landlsayt in Buenos Aires at a gathering with the writer Joseph Opatashu. On Opatashu's left, the chairman of the Nowy Dwor landsmanshaft, Nakhman Novodvorski.

 


Footnotes

  1. This is an allusion to the fact that Buenos Aires was a haven for a prostitution industry in which many Jews from Eastern Europe were involved. Return
  2. The names reflect the Spanish custom of including a maternal family name prefaced with the Spanish “de.” Return


[Page 519]

Friends of Nowy Dwor in Paris

by L. Maylekhovitsh, Paris

Translated by Miriam Leberstein

The association “Friends of Nowy Dwor” in Paris was founded in 1947. In June of that year, a small notice appeared in the Jewish press regarding a gathering of Nowy Dworers called by an initiating group. I got in touch with my friend Alman and we went to the gathering, which took place in Jewish restaurant in one of the Jewish neighborhoods in Paris. There we met the people who had initiated the meeting: Hertske Menakhes, Yosef Pesakh Rozenfeld and Fuks.

We decided to call another meeting, which took place a week later. Attending were Hertske Menakhes, Rozenfeld, Fuks, Alman, Yisroel Guterman, the Hoff family (Mendl Lipski's daughter) and L. Maylekhovitsh. The gathering established the Society, “Friends of Nowy Dwor” in Paris and elected an executive committee of three people: Hertske Menakhes, chairman; L. Maylekhovitsh, secretary; and Yosef Guterman, treasurer.

As I later learned, Hertske Menakhes had called the first meeting at the suggestion of his uncle, who had once been an activist among Nowy Dwor landslayt in America. Efforts to form a landsmanshaft [association of landslayt, i.e. people from the same town] in Paris had been made years earlier, before the First World War, by a hairdresser, Guretski, but they were not successful.

In the period before World War I, the Jewish associations focused solely on providing gravesites, a place in a cemetery where members could be buried, or simply dealt with questions of holding office, debates over honor. Only a few associations conducted any communal activities among their members.

One day in 1933 or 1934, several Nowy Dworers –– Sholem Levkovitsh, now living in Metz; Avraham Kviatkowski, died after deportation [during World War II]; and Khaim Kronenberg, who emigrated to America – came to see me. We discussed forming an association of Nowy Dworers and sending material aid for our landslayt who were then languishing in Polish prisons. In the meantime there occurred stormy events which lasted until 1937 and later, with the worsening of the psychosis of war, until 1939.

It was only after the war, when the Jews of Paris began to stand up straight after coming out of hiding after the liberation from the German occupation, that new winds began to blow in Jewish communal life. After the trials of the concentration camps, the survivors returned to their ruined homes with increased understanding and feelings of responsibility for community and communal affairs. Those who had survived the death camp were the first to engage in collective activity.

One of the most important goals to which our society dedicated itself was to provide assistance to the landslayt returning from [displaced persons camps in] Germany. In December, 1947, we organized the first memorial evening and from then on, December 14 became the memorial day for our home town Nowy Dwor, and for all our near ones.

We soon realized that the Nazi Angel of Death had destroyed the vast majority of Nowy Dworers who had lived in Paris before the war, and that only a few remained. This

[Page 520]

forced us to expand our scope and we contacted landslayt from the vicinity of Nowy Dwor. We began to organize landslayt from Nashelsk, Zakrotshin, Jablanna, Pomiechove and Srotsk, and formed the society “Nowy Dwor–Nashelsk and Vicinity.” This united society erected the monument on the Jewish cemetery Banie, as a memorial to our destroyed town and its martyrs.

Today our association numbers more than 30 families, half of them from Nowy Dwor. Some came with the “first immigration” before World War I, the rest in the 1930's and after World War II.

Our social activities are not limited to aiding our landslayt. We participate in general communal life in Paris. Soon after our association was formed, we joined the union of Jewish associations in Paris. Together with the union we participate in all relief campaigns on behalf of the Jewish population. Right after the war we contributed support for orphanages for the children of deportees. We gave financial support and actively helped to distribute packages of food for Passover, and coal in the winter, for needy families and the elderly. We also supported the large movement fighting against anti–Semitism and for peace.

We provide our members with medical assistance and medications at a low price.

Our association also carries out cultural activities. We organize programs with talks on literary topics. We have presented literary programs about Mendele [Moykher Sforim] and on the 100th birthday of Sholem Aleichem. On such evenings we recall the stars of the Jewish intelligentsia in Nowy Dwor, like Leon Grabman, and especially Shmuel Grabman, the great expert and lover of the Yiddish classical writers, whose readings planted in the hearts and minds of the youth of Nowy Dwor an eternal love for Yiddish literature.

Our existence is the best expression of our will to continue. With our activities we continue the golden chain of the vibrant life of Jewish Nowy Dwor, that the Nazi murderers so brutally extinguished, along with all of Polish Jewry.

 

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The first memorial for Nowy Dworers in 1946 in Paris

 

[Page 520]

 

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Procession of mourners from Nowy Dwor in Paris at the unveiling of the memorial stone for the Nowy Dwor martyrs, 1949

 

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Nowy Dworers at the Paris cemetery at the unveiling of the memorial stone, 1949.

 

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