by Ya'akov Bekier, Los Angeles
Translated by Miriam Leberstein
The founding of the Stashover Association in Los Angeles in 194546 coincides with the arrival of the first letters from the liberated survivors of the Holocaust. These letters expressed not only pain over the loss of our Staszów community but also the difficult conditions for the survivors, who were then living in the defiled land of Germany. The letters evoked an urgent need to organize our townsmen here, with the goal of distributing immediate and substantial aid to our unfortunate and needy Staszów survivors.
In this regard, I am obliged to mention that it was Betty Adel, the sister of Simon Singer, who played the leading role in organizing and activating the association. With her energetic and determined demands, she roused our townsmen here and was essential to the very existence of the association, as well to the organization of its fundraising campaigns.
Of course, our first relief efforts were to respond to the letters mentioned above by sending food and clothing packages. After that, we also participated in laying the foundation for planning and later establishing the loan fund of the Staszów landsmanshaft in Israel, which makes interestfree, longterm loans to our landslayt here. These loans are an important factor in facilitating their absorption into the economic life of the country. In addition, we often provided aid to individual Stashovers in Israel, either in the form of packages or money.
I want to emphasize that our association's contributions were not restricted to people from Staszów. Quite often, we widened the scope of our activities and contributed our part to the general needs of Israel, in the economic realm as well as in security. And in general, whenever we received a call for aid from Israel, we responded generously, to the extent that our material resources permitted.
Finally, I want to note that we see one of our most important tasks, really the most important, to be our aid to the Yizkor Book for our town, which will honor and eternalize our martyrs, murdered by the Germans and their helpers in the last, terrible war. We raised $1,000 toward this goal.
In addition to our meetings to provide aid for the abovementioned causes, we also had social gatherings once a month in which we recalled all kinds of things that were said or that occurred in our town. In this way, we perpetuate, at least in our memories, our spiritual contact with our unforgettable shtetl, which sadly exists no more.
Staszów Landsmanshaft in Los Angeles
First row, seated, from right: Sarah and Reuben Erlich, Miriam Ehrlich, Clara and Sam Kwalwasser with daughter Rosa, B. Rotenberg, Leon Kwalwasser
Second row: Mrs. Applebaum, Ya'akov Beker, Victor Ehrlich, Josepf Applebaum, Frieda and Sheldon Himmelfarb
Third row, standing: Gita Braun, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Tishgarten, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Epstein, Isaac Beser, G. Gor, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Adel, Nina Fisher, Rosa Unger, Fannie Weiss, Nathan Kwalwasser.
by the StashoverRakover Committee of Argentina
Translated by Miriam Leberstein
The close family ties as well as the extensive economic and cultural connections that existed in the old country between the two adjacent towns of Staszów and Raków gave rise to a feeling among the landslayt of both towns living in Buenos Aries that they came from the same town. Thus, our landslayt, who began immigrating to Argentina about 1924, considered themselves to be a unified social group and so established a joint landsmanshaft, as reflected in its name.
Our landsmanshaft was formally founded on 18 August 1938. But even before that, the social unease that characterized people who came from the two towns brought them together, each time in a different home, to discuss the problems of the old country and when necessary to send a bit of aid to our towns in Poland or to distribute aid to our needy in Argentina.
In essence, not much changed after the founding of the organization. The organization's goals were the same as those that had impelled earlier philanthropic and social activity. It was simply (but of great importance) that, not only was the necessary work more regularized, organized, and expanded, but it acquired legal standing in the organized community. The same activities were more limited earlier and were done more sporadically and by individuals.
The association's first leadership consisted of the following landslayt: Max Pantirer, Michael Chapnik, Moshe Wittenberg, Manasseh Tiger, Moshe Finger, Leon Disenhaus, Alter Wilner, Israel Feinkuchen, Leon Goldhar, Max Weinryb, Israel Lipina, Abram Orimowicz, Berl Albus, Sholem Spiegel, Yosel Greber, and Velvel Wittenberg.
In the first year, in addition to frequent, enjoyable gatherings, a loan fund was established to give loans to people living in Argentina. But its main task was to help and support newly arrived landslayt to get settled and bring their families here.
In 1939, before the outbreak of the war, the renowned writer Mark Turkev came to Argentina on a fundraising campaign on behalf of Jews who had been driven out of Germany and were wandering about in the noman's land of Zbąszyń. Our landsmanshaft participated in the campaign very actively, collecting a significant amount of money.
In the belief that the war would not last long, we organized a meeting of landslayt in order to prepare help for the eventual victims. When the almost six year long horror of war ended and the extent of the tragedy became clear, we immediately established contact with the landslayt who had miraculously escaped death, sending the first relief to each individual we could find.
We also actively participated in the collection of money and clothing carried out by the Central Federation of Polish Jews in Argentina. At the same time, our association made enormousand successfulefforts to obtain a number of entry permits and send them to our surviving landslayt. Some of the landslayt took advantage of the permits to come here, where they received our help in settling and remain here to this day. Others instead made aliyah after the establishment of the State of Israel. Still others sought ways to unite with their families in other lands.
Our association participated in a special campaign to raise money for the Haganah that was held in Argentina in 1947, and since the establishment of the State of Israel we participate in the yearly fundraising campaign, conscious that we are fulfilling a basic humanitarian obligation. We take great satisfaction in the fact that all of our landslayt from Staszów and Raków voluntarily contribute, each according to his means, to secure the existence of Israel.
In the hope that Jewish life in Poland would revive after the war, we prepared to help our people there with whatever they needed. But the savage Nazi war totally changed the character of Europe and especially Polish Jewry, and it turned out that there were very few people there to help. Our grief was as deep and boundless as the Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazis and those who helped them, while no one in the world did anything to stop it. And we cry out to the socalled civilized world: Why did this happen to us?
But the world is deaf and dumb, and the only explanation is the traditional answer of the Haggadah: In every generation they rise up to annihilate us.
Our deep sorrow over the innocent dead is expressed during the memorial our association organizes every year on the twentyeighth day of Heshvan [8 November 1942, the date of the final expulsion and destruction of the Jewish community of Staszów]. We all come together to commemorate and honor the memory of our loved ones, the innocent victims of mass murder.
In conclusion, we want to stress that the culmination of our social activity is the enthusiastic spirit in which we celebrate Israeli Independence Day. On that day, which we consider the most important holiday, we feel a unity with the builders and defenders of the land, and we express our sincerest wish that we and our children will in time unite with our Israeli brothers in order to build and secure our land together.
Here is a list of the landslayt currently in the association's committee: Jacob Kleinberg, Michael Chapnik, Max Pantirer, Solomon Silberstein, Mayer Linksman, Monish Linksman, Samuel Taub, Berl Albus, Mayer Albus, Abram Orimowicz, Eli Bar Wittenberg, and Israel Goldgrub.
by Pinye Ajzenberg and Haim Wagner, São Paulo
Translated by Miriam Leberstein
The first meeting of Staszów landslayt in São Paulo was held on 9 March 1941 upon the initiative of our comrades Jacob Sternlicht, Melekh Mandel, and Haim Wagner. The declared goal of this founding meeting was specifically to deliver philanthropic aid locally, that is, to establish an association of people of Staszów origins in order to help those of our landslayt here who were in need because of illness or for other reasons. This occurred at a time when there were many cases in the Staszów community in São Paulo in which people would have fallen apart, either physically or mentally, if not for our humane concern, along with substantial aid in the form of grants or free longterm loans.
At first, the society's programs, consistent with its original goal, were limited to needy people from Staszów. Later, with the brutally changed circumstances in the old country, we decided to expand the society's work in two directions. First, we brought in people from the area around Staszów, and, most importantly, we focused our attention on landslayt who had survived the Holocaust.
As soon as we received the first letters from France, in which survivors alerted us to their difficult situation and requested urgent aid, we immediately began to collect money and to send packages of medicine to displacedpersons camps in France, Germany, Switzerland, and other countries where our unfortunate landslayt were living. It should be noted that we did this relief work by ourselves, before we made contact with our landslayt in North America. Later, when we did make contact with them, our part in the relief effort consisted of sending several hundred dollars, as well as regular shipments of food packages and medicine.
At the same time, we reserved certain sums of money to be used when the war refugees arrived here or in other lands, especially Israel. Now, years later, we can take great satisfaction and pride in having fulfilled our obligations to our refugee landslayt who came to Brazil after the war. We not only sought assistance from the government authorities to legalize these people but also gave them aid to help them settle in and adapt to their new circumstances.
The first living witnesses from Staszów who came here after the Holocaust were the Berlin family, whom we warmly welcomed, having been moved to tears by our first meeting with these war victims.
It should be noted that our society was the first landsmanshaft in São Paulo to organize a memorial meeting, which we did in a big public hall. In addition to the landslayt of Staszów, hundreds of Jews from other places streamed in for the memorial, using this meeting as an opportunity to come together in mourning for those who were so tragically killed.
At a large mass meeting, held in 1947, our society announced a fundraising campaign on behalf of the survivors who had made aliyah [emigrated to Israel]. Pursuant to an agreement with our landslayt in America and Israel, we joined forces to lay the foundation for a loan fund in Israel, which fulfills an extremely useful task in helping with the absorption of new immigrants into Israeli society.
In addition to socialphilanthropic programs, which consisted of sending regular packages to Israel, and a yearly campaign to raise money for the loan fund, we have tried to carry out cultural programs. Unfortunately, we have been entirely unsuccessful in this area. It soon became clear that the stark conflicts that this attempt evokeda result of often conflicting ideological approachesendangered the very existence of our society. To avoid this danger, we retreated from this attempt and with redoubled energy threw ourselves into the very necessary, indisputably worthwhile socialphilanthropic work.
In this area, we can demonstrate great success, as evidenced by the greatly increased membership we have today. From 40 members at its inception, we now have 160 registered members, each of whom carries out, to the extent he is able, his assigned tasks. And these tasks are not insignificant. In addition to sending food packages to and the yearly fundraising for Israel, conducted since 1949, we give out interestfree loans to the local poor and also support two landslayt with a regular monthly stipend.
Over the years, we have hosted various Stashover guests from America, Israel, France, Argentina, Montevideo, and other places of residence. We organize a yearly memorial evening during which we gather to remember our destroyed community and so strengthen our souldeep connections with Stashovers all over the world.
The work that began when Brother Sosewicz visited us in connection with the Yizkor Book has been very important. Our collaboration with Brother Sosewicz has ensured the success of this invaluable fundraising campaign for the book. We held an enthusiastic farewell banquet for him in a large hall, attended by all members.
It is also regrettably true that we have sometimes encountered serious difficulties and obstacles. But, thanks to the persistence and sincere devotion of several members, we continue to carry out our socialphilanthropic work to the preset day and hope to continue until poverty is eliminated.
Leadership of the Staszów landsmanshaft
From right to left: Leybush Gliklich, Isaac Rzesak, Fishl Rosen, Jedediah Nisencwajg, Haim Wagner, Pinchas Ajzenberg, Itshe Morgenstern, Hershl Wassercier, Manasseh Erlichman, Meyer Pluznik
Stashover landsmanshft in São Paulo
First row, sanding, from right: Esther Ajzenberg, Sarah Sztajnbaum, Samuel Sztajnbaum, Abish Krongold, Kalman Hengieltraub, Esther Hengieltraub, Yehiel Buchman, Zelda Zysman, Solomon Zysman, Chaya Zysman, Velvel Wenger, Noah Zysman (a recent member), Haim Morgenstern
by M. Sosewicz
Translated by Miriam Leberstein
I don't know exactly how many Jews there were in Staszów, but travelling over the world and meeting with Stashover landslayt, it seems as if Staszów was quite a large city, with many thousands of Jews.
In Toronto, Canada, we have between two and three hundred families from Staszów, with a large organization called the Stashover Young Men's Society, and despite the young men of the title, there are many members who are older, who spent the greater part of their lives in Staszów. A number of them have settled in well here and have even amassed great wealth.
But Toronto deserves credit for having brought into the Staszów organization all landslayt, poor as well as rich, those who left the town many years ago and those who came after the Hitler era. When I visited there, the president of the young men was Joseph Bloom, one of the most successful, who has lived there many years, while the secretary was Simcha Rotenberg, who had only recently arrived from Israel.
There is also a Stashover Young Ladies Auxiliary, where the women have their own organization, and a Stashover synagogue, where people pray not just on the Sabbath and holidays but every day of the year. And it is good that all three organizations cooperate and often work together to hold a large yearly banquet, attended by three to four hundred people, which raises $4,000 to aid landslayt, to send ever larger sums of money to landslayt in Israel each year, to help needy individuals there, to send hundreds of food packages for Pesach, and to help landslayt here who are in need.
Toronto also contributed handsomely to the Yizkor Book, raising more than $2,000 to support its publication. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their warm relationship and cooperation with my modest fundraising campaign for this important cause, especially the thenpresident Joseph Bloom, Naftali Freedman, Kalman Berger, and others. Their reward is the establishment of this important monument for our town, which was wiped out by Hitler's murderers.
There are about 150 Staszów families in Chicago. The Stashover Independent Aid Society was founded about fifty years ago by Benny Brendzel, who is still active. Benny Brendzel was also one of the cofounders of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union and was and still is one of its mightiest pillars.
Benny Brendzel helped dozens of landslayt, getting them into the union and giving them jobs in the garment shops. One of his sons is today treasurer of the big garment workers union in America, and the other son is a prominent attorney, who hasn't forgotten that he was born and partly raised in Staszów.
The secretary of the Stashover society is the indefatigable Sam Freedman, and the chairman is Yehoshua Disenhaus. The Stashover society, along with the women's group, Stashover Ladies Auxiliary, led by Leah Freedman, raised tens of thousands of dollars to help the needy in Staszów. They also helped immigrants newly arrived in America after the Second World War. Together with the Toronto and the New York landslayt, they helped found a loan fund in Israel.
Chicago also had a Stashover synagogue for many years. And when the neighborhood changed and there were no longer any congregants, the synagogue was sold, and most of the money was used to buy a meeting hall for Stashovers in Tel Aviv.
The last trustees of the synagogue were Shmuel Helfand and Ray and Eliezer Rosner. The Stashover Society in Chicago has recently declined. The older landslayt are less active, while the younger ones have almost nothing to do with it. But the society's members still carry out some work. They have their own cemetery, participate in various national fundraising campaigns, and contributed significantly to the Yizkor Book.
From his earliest youth, Yehoshua Disenhaus was inextricably bound up with Zionist activities: in the old country, in Staszów, where he was already a leader in Hashomer Hatzair [the Young Guard, LaborZionist youth movement, Zionist scouting] at age 12; or in his new home, Cuba, to which he later emigrated and became one of the leaders of the Jewish center there; or in Chicago, where he later settled, immediately joining the Jewish National Workers Federation, Poalei Zion [Workers of Zion]. Everywhere and throughout his lifetime, he remained true to his Zionist ideals, actively involved in the more concrete Zionist revival and aid efforts wherever and whenever he could be of help.
Despite his poor health, in his last year he undertook to visit Israel, which was difficult for him, with the explicit intention, as an honorable person, to concretize his plans to settle there. He was very moved by all the achievements he saw there. He was overjoyed, like a small child, by every little thing, disregarding anything that didn't please him.
This was the approach of a lover, who for years was forced to dream of the object of his love from afar, who didn't see or didn't wish to see the faults that an objective, disinterested person would have noticed. Unfortunately, his weak heart could not endure the strain and the accumulation of impressions and feelings that he had in Israel. He got sick, and on 11 May 1962, at the age of 58, he died in Tel Aviv.
Honor to his memory.
There was quite a large Stashover society in New York, headed by Hershel Bloom, who has recently died. For the same reasons as in Chicago and other places, the New York society has greatly declined. And it is truly a pity that among the hundreds of Stashover families, young and old, there aren't many landslayt willing to strengthen the society and to continue the humanitarian work of its earlier leaders by helping needy landslayt, both here and in other lands. Perhaps the Yizkor Book, in which the Israeli Stashovers have invested so much work and effort, will serve as a stimulus to the society in New York.
The New York society has nevertheless donated $1,000 for the Yizkor Book. Various individuals have also contributed much.
There is also a Stashover society in Philadelphia that has attracted young people, sons and sonsinlaw of Staszów. Unfortunately, they don't have a relationship with Stashovers in other cities and lands, and I know almost nothing of their work.
There is a large group of Stashovers in Los Angeles, led by the brothers Victor and Ruby Ehrlich, as well as by Jacob Becker and Solomon Kwallwaser and by member Betty Adel, the daughter of Feige the milkcarrier. They call meetings from time to time, send aid to the loan fund in Israel, actively participated in the work of the Yizkor Book, and do everything in their power for Stashovers and their town.
There are also Stashovers scattered among smaller cities in America and Canada. Some have become very rich and wish to forget their town, Staszów, but others are very pleased to contribute when they are approached in a fundraising campaign.
Having covered America and Canada, let us go on to South America. And we needn't be ashamed of our landslayt there.
First, as to Brazil: There are about 75 Staszów families in Sco Paulo who have very nicely worked their way up and who have established quite a fine society. They organize a yearly fundraising campaign for the loan fund in Israel, help needy landslayt in Sco Paulo, contributed handsomely to the Yizkor Book, and maintain contact with each other. The society's leaders are Haim Wagner, Ajzenberg, and others.
Next, Buenos Aires in Argentina: There are also about 75 Staszów families here, with quite a large society that does a lot to aid landslayt, including newly arrived immigrants. Until now they haven't done much for landslayt in other lands. But they contributed handsomely to a very successful fundraising campaign for the Yizkor Book, raising over $1,000 despite the devaluation of their currency. Recently, they sent money to the loan fund in Israel, and we hope that their contribution will grow even more with the publication of the Yizkor Book.
The last South American country to be noted is Uruguay. There are around 35 to 40 Staszów families in Montevideo. They have tried many times to organize a Stashover society but sadly have not succeeded because of the political split between left and right. It is a pity, even offensive, that they haven't been able to overcome narrow political viewpoints, even to unite on a common matter, such as the Staszów Yizkor Book, which has absolutely nothing to do with political parties.
Nevertheless, I was able to organize a gathering, to take a photo of the Stashovers, and to conduct a small fundraising campaign for the Yizkor Book, in which about fifteen people participated. If they had an organization and could forget about political parties in matters regarding landslayt, they could accomplished a lot.
Finally, last but not least, Paris: Paris was my first stop on the way to the Americas. And although there is only a small group there, ten families in all, their warmth encouraged me to go forward with the very successful campaign for the Yizkor Book.
In two days I was able to raise around 600 Israeli pounds, about 100,000 French francs at the time. But it was not the money that was the most important thing but the comradeship and the warmth with which they received me. So I'd like to thank them and mention a few names: the Buchman brothers, friend Bydlowski, Meyer Disenhaus, and others. May they continue and grow stronger in the same manner.
To conclude, I would like to thank all my landslayt and comrades everywhere I have visited who helped in the raising of money for the Yizkor Book in order to establish this important and eternal monument for the unfortunates of our home, Staszów, who were murdered.
by Yoel Fishof, Hadera
Translated by Maya Haiman, third generation of Staszów descendants
I address these words to you my friends, Staszów descendants! Do not blame me for over emotion. I am convinced that you, like me, will be moved when reading this book.
The idea of a memorial book that will unfold the long history of our Staszów community has been raised since the arrival of the first emigrants - the holocaust survivors. But then it was only a far-away dream, even its beginning unclear. And now that the time has come and the dream is coming true we are overflowed with joy. This joy however, is mixed with sorrow and pain for the fact that there is a need for such books, and for the cruel destiny of all those that their story they tell.
Poverty, hardship and sorrow were not the only things we experienced in our old burnt home. Out of this home also burst the flames of light, spirituality, humanity and Judaism that helped create institutions for education, culture and charity that this book commemorates.
This book is also a strong accusation document, which points the finger towards all those whom with their blood stained hands cut down the branches of this tree and destroyed it from its roots.
On behalf of you the reader, and myself, I would like to express my appreciation and affection to all those who contributed to the holly job of creating this book: to the members of the book community and the editor, who with their never ending dedication and patience throughout the many years, collected piece by piece until they could join them together to become this wonderful creation.
And even if one may find mistakes or faults in the book they will be accepted with love, as proof of our admiration of all those who took this holly duty upon themselves and fulfilled it with dignity.
by Elchanan Erlich
Translated Miriam Leberstein
Now that our town of Staszów has ceased to be a [Jewish] geographical designation, having been wiped from the face of the earth forever, it is fitting that we memorialize its vibrant life, in all its manifestations: spiritual and material, social and cultural, secular and religious; its constant desperate struggle with an alien, mostly hostile environment; its hopes for a better future, whether in the town itself or elsewhere; and the death struggle of its martyrs and holy ones.
Let it be said in all sincerity: The interval between the erasure of the Jewish community of Staszów and the completion of this beautiful and fitting memorial [of the Staszów Book] has been for us a source of pain and chagrin. We have been painfully aware of our inability, for hundreds of reasons all of them justifiable and mostly not under our control to entrench our dear Staszów into the sphere of history as quickly as we had first planned.
It is no wonder that with the writing of this final section that delay has ended, and I can breathe more easily, despite all the difficulties and constant struggles, the enormous psychological tension of the past three or four years during which the material was prepared and edited. And my heavy burden and the psychological pressure that accompanied it has made way for a sigh of satisfaction, that we have finally been honored to be able to establish this memorial, eternalizing our dear ones, who were torn from life by criminal, inhuman hands.
So let us, as is customary among Jews, recite the shehecheyanu, to commemorate the fruits of our labors: this book, which lies before us in all its impressive and expansive splendor.
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