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[Page 470]

Bialer in the World


In Israel

by M.Y. Feigenboim

Translated by Pamela Russ

From the historical discourse of Dr. M. Hendel, we learn that already in the 16th century Biala Jews had arrived in Israel. Just as from other cities, there were individuals from Biala who also went to the Land of Israel in those years to be able to die in the Holy Land, or to appease the desire of being close to holy places.

The memoirs of Yehoshua Yelin, in the chapter about the growth of the Jewish settlement in Jerusalem in the years 1834–1864, tell of the creation of “Kolel Warsaw” [center for Torah study for married men] where it was decided that Dovod Yelin become the head and trustee (he was the father of the abovementioned Yehoshua Yelin), whose partner became the “HaRav HaGoan Reb Meir, of blessed memory, of Biala” (one of the dayanim [rabbinic court judges] in Jerusalem).

In the period of the “Second Aliyah”[a] Nekhemiah Goldwasser (son of Nissen Goldwasser) came to Israel, and with great difficulty left Israel only to return to Biala before World War One.

Before World War One, you would hear about individual Biala Jews who were living in Israel, such as these two Gerer chassidim: Reb Moshe Mordechai (the coppersmith's son–in–law) in Tzfat, and Reb Yosel Junewer (father of Dena Junewer), who left for Israel to die there (P. Gold, New York). Shloimele the hat maker (Weisberg) made great efforts to make aliyah to Israel. He had even already sold his huge house on Mezryczer Street and was ready to leave. However, in the middle of all that, the World War broke out and Shloimele had to resign himself from his dream. After the war, Shloimele was one of the first in Biala who left with his entire family to immigrate to the Land of Israel.

At the time of World War One, a Bialer, Melman, a soldier in the Russian army, fell into a Turkish prison and arrived in the Land of Israel where he already remained.

After World War I, aliyah to Israel began. This took place in small numbers, because first Biala Jews were not great supporters of immigration. Second, the stream of emigration from Biala flowed towards America where the Biala Jews had family and friends whom they could count on for help in setting themselves up in the new land. The small aliyah from Biala to Israel had a different character than the earlier aliyahs. The new group did not go to the Holy Land to die there or for religious motives, but first and foremost to build a Jewish home, and second, to be rid of the difficult political regime that had installed itself in the liberated Poland.

Among the Bialer who were in the first aliyah to Israel after World War I, there were: Avrohom Visenfeld (from Wajnes), Kaspi Zilberger (of the Szkops – served with the Israeli border police), Shloimele Hitelmakher [“hat maker”] and his family, Zelig Rozenfeld, Yeshayohu Agres, Sholom Rogolski, Dovid Aranowycz, Alter Wajnberg, the brothers Shlomo and Feivel Avijes (Niskele Muljer's sons), Yitzkhak Zak (Hershel Zak's son), Noakh Mann and Mottel Likhtenberg (Khaya Zelda's son).

In the middle of the 1920s, when the social life among the Jewish population in Poland became much more difficult, and a greater aliyah to Israel began. During these very years, the following made aliyah to Israel from Biala: Yehoshua Rozenboim (Bashe Shmerkes' son), Feige Yita Urmakher, Gutman Moshe (Eliyahu Dovidel the melamed [teacher]'s son), Yehoshua Shajnboim (Moshe Dovid Shtrikenmakher [“rope maker”]'s son), Yehoshua Ofar, Dovid Lemberger, Moshe Ashberg, Shloime Tzaruk, the brothers Yakov and Shimshon Hajblum, Menkhem Goldzak, Yehishua Fisher, Moshe Braverman, Moseh Bankhalter, Moshe Lewi, Moshe Stolowi, Moshe Rubenstajn, Malke Rames, Malke Migdal, Eliyahu Feldman, Przekupnik, and so on.

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After the unrests in Israel in the year 1929, the youth aliyah from Biala increased. They tried to enter the land in any way possible, both legally and illegally, often linked to great dangers.

A small percent of those Biala residents who could not establish themselves in Israel, left and returned to Biala, or immigrated to other countries.

The majority of Biala settled in Tel Aviv and a small number in kibbutzim [collective farms].

The skilled workers among the Bialer worked in their trades, and those who did not have a skill from back home, undertook all kinds of work, mainly by moonlighting [bypassing labor laws] in construction work. Of great significance, our compatriot Alter Wajnberg benefitted greatly from this, and he became known in Tel Aviv as one of the best brick masters, and also taught this skill to a group of young olim [those who made aliyah], and they became known in Tel Aviv as “Kvutzat Vineberg” [“Wajnberg's Group”].

The well–known Zionist community activist in Biala, Yehoshua Fisher, was among the founders of Kfar Ata, a settlement in Israel near Haifa, and for many years was the settlement–head there.

One of the first residents of Bnei Brak was the Bialer Moshe Gutman. His hut was one of the first houses there that spoke of a new life that would open in that vast area.

After World War II, when the Biala Jewish settlement was totally erased from the earth's surface, the majority of the small group of surviving Bialer made aliyah to Israel. Some of them came as illegal immigrants, still under the British mandate's rule, and the rest already arrived as immigrants to the Jewish State.

Today the Biala landsleit[1] comprise about 500 families in Israel. Mostly, the Bialer are concentrated in and around Tel Aviv. The rest are spread out across the country, in cities, villages and on kibbutzim.

The majority of the Bialer in Israel work in their own workshops, in cooperative endeavors, and as workers in other workshops and factories. A significant number works in the agriculture field – both in private farming and as co–workers in kibbutzim. Part works in trading and in other independent professions.

In the organizational domain, the Bialer in Israel did not demonstrate any great initiative and activity. They tried to organize a Bialer association, but without success. In the year 1932, during our compatriot Berish Bernstajn's visit to Israel from America, with his resourcefulness, an initiative–group was established, which was to lead to the founding of a Bialer association, but nothing came of this.

After receiving the first tragic news about the devastation of our city and place of birth, a Bialer committee was set up in Tel Aviv that undertook a huge collection of clothes from the landsleit and sent several large containers with the clothes to Biala (the containers never arrived to Biala and remained somewhere in the middle of the route that went through Persia and Russia). This committee held the first large memorial in Tel Aviv to remember the destroyed Biala Jewish community.

With the arrival of the first Olim (new immigrants to Israel) of the Biala survivors of the devastation, the Bialer established a loan fund that helped the newly arrived Olim with financial assistance. But after a short time of activity, the committee ceased to exist and the loans were not reimbursed.

In the year 1952, when the Bialer landsleit in America expressed their preparedness to perpetuate in Israel the memory of our destroyed home town [place of birth], it was suggested that they establish a Gemilas Chesed fund [non–profit assistance to individuals and families] in the name of the Biala community, that would distribute constructive assistance to the new Olim with the consent of the Biala in America. The fund was established under the name “Kupat Gemilat Chasadim Al Shem Kehilat Biala Podlaska” [Gemilat Chasadim “Bestowing Kindness” Fund in the name of the Biala Podlaska community].

Today, this Gemilas Chesed fund is one of the most respected and best organized institutions in this region of the country. It is, as well, an important helping tool for the landsleit and a monument for the destroyed Biala Jewish community.

In the eight years of its existence (October 1, 1952 – September 30, 1960), the capital in the fund reached the sum of 28.881 pounds. The capital is used primarily for loans. During this time, 426 loans have been distributed, with a sum of 103.931 pounds, of which 82.230 pounds were reimbursed. At the end of the abovementioned period, the sum of 21.701 pounds came from the borrowers.

The Gemilas Chesed fund became the meeting place of the Biala landsleit in Israel and takes the position of

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an association. There is no problem that an association would address that the administration of the fund does not deal with.

These are some of the issues. Sadly, there are Bialer who are dependent on social assistance that is not under the mandate of the Gemilas Chesed fund. But in order not to leave these needy people without any help, a separate social fund was created under the Gemilas Chesed fund, which has undertaken to allocate this type of help to the Biala needy. This aide is given in a respectful manner, and sometimes even in significant amounts. This social fund goes under the name “Keren Asher u'Binyomin le'Ezrah Socialit” [“A Fund of Asher and Binyomin for Social Assistance”]. This fund perpetuates the memory of two Bialer respected Zionist community activists, Asher Hofer and Binyomin Kilger, of blessed memory, who were among the founders of the Gemilas Chesed fund.

The “Keren Asher u'Binyomin le'Ezrah Socialit” fund is in existence almost from the same time as the Gemilas Chesed fund. During this time, a sum of 16.113 pounds was distributed.

In order to perpetuate the memory of our compatriot Alter Wajnberg, of blessed memory, who was of the first Bialer in Tel Aviv, whose house was the gathering place for the Bialer in Israel, whom Alter would assist with words and action, a stipend–fund was established in his name. Annual stipends are allocated for students of Bialer parents – students who are outstanding in their studies. The monies of these stipends are fully supported by the monies of the Gemilas Chesed fund.

This stipend–fund with the name of Alter Wajnberg, exists for six years (October 1, 1954 – September 30, 1960). In this period of time, 22 stipends have been distributed, in the sum of 1.929 pounds. This fund is maintained by the landsleit in Los Angeles.

The Gemilas Chesed fund administration organizes an annual memorial gathering in memory of the murdered Biala Jews. The gathering is attended by almost all the Bialer compatriots spread across the country.

The executive of the fund are the following: Moshe Reuven – chairman; Yehoshua Kliger and Yakov Gliksberg – vice chairmen; Shimshon Herzberg and Leon Pakman – treasurers; Asher Grinblat – secretary; Yehoshua – bookkeeper; Yehoshua Ofer, Chaim Libman, Chaim Yosef Knizhnik, Roza Liverant, Zalman Dogodni, Bluma Spikhler, Bela Shajnboim, Pnina Goldendrot, Dov Osenholcz, and Shmuel Fishman. Revisions–committee: Aron Mjodek and Gedaliah Kohn.

The destruction of our old home has brought closer together those Bialer landsleit in Israel who are at a distance [from one another] – those who are woven into the daily struggle for existence, but with the satisfaction of knowing that they are free citizens in a free State of Israel, which generations have dreamed of and hoped for.

Original footnote

  1. The Second Aliyah was an important and highly influential Israeli immigration movement (aliyah) that took place between 1904 and 1914, during which approximately 20,000 Jews, mostly from the Russian Empire, migrated to Ottoman Palestine. Return

Translator's Footnote

  1. landsleit – plural of “landsman” Return

In North America

A. New York

Translated by Pamela Russ

It is assumed that the first Bialer in North America arrived at the end of the nineteenth century when the immigration from Russia to North America, because of the pogroms against the Jews in the year 1881, dragged along with it several Bialer. A small number left because of economic reasons, others to avoid military service in the Russian army. There were also some immigrants who were connected with the so–called “shaikehs” [bandits]. In the 90s of the previous century, the Bialer Jewish underground, that consisted of fine young men and “strong” ones, greatly bothered the population. The police knew of their activities and would always collect a group of them and send them deep into Russia. These groups were called “shaikes” (in his pamphlet “The Bialer Courtyard” A. Wajnberg tells of escaping from the Bialer inmates of the castle prison, and he adds: “Why they were sitting in prison, is a completely different chapter.”

It should be therefore noted that this was connected to the “shaikes” and that the fleeing Bialer inmates waited in prison for their deportation to Russia. Many of these “shaikes” ran away from their place of deportation, and immigrated to England, and later to America where they became useful workers.

After the revolution was choked off by the Czarist powers from the year 1905, immigration from Biala to America began that was an emigration primarily of workers. The number of Biala immigrants to America, until the World War One, is said to be about 400 men.

Just after World War One, when a mass immigration to America began, Biala was significantly represented therein.

At that time, women went to their husbands

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who were in America even before the war, children went to their parents, parents went to their children, and youths who saw a future for themselves in the United Sates [went as well]. This is how the emigration from Biala to North America went without interruption, until the so–called “quota” was reached in the United States – a quota that practically locked the gates to new immigrants.

The majority of the Biala immigrants remained settled in New York where a large Jewish community already existed. The newly–arrived from Biala certainly preferred to stay with Jews rather than going west, where the number of Jews at that time was still small. It was easier to set themselves up among the Jews where you could make use of any of the supports that were available. Clearly, not knowing the language of the land also influenced them to remain among Jews. Every newcomer tried to get work in his own vocation. Those who did not have a skill took all kinds of work. A large number of the unskilled Bialer went into hat production.

Strange, lonely, and sometimes helpless, is how the newcomer felt in the new country. There were also those who couldn't acclimate themselves. They were consumed by a yearning for their home and they returned to Biala. These were, among others, who returned until the First World War: Nakhman Morgenstern (Einbinder – went back to America after the war), Elya Bubkes (Eliyahu Hofman), Khanina Kashemakher, Shmuel Ekstajn, and so on. So, understandably, associations of compatriots were set up, whose goal was to establish a meeting place where you could get together, somewhat appease the mutual yearning for the home that was left behind, and help each other in words and action. Just as with other landsleit in America, this is how it went with the Bialer.

Already in the year 1907, the first Bialer Society was established in New York, but because of some of their power hungry members, the society did not have a long life, and it fell apart.

In the year 1910, the Bialer “Branch” of the Workmen's Circle was established, but many Bialer could not find a place for themselves in this organization, and this once again led to the re–establishment of the Bialer Society. Around the founding date of the Society, there were disagreements among the Bialer in America, but the year 1913 is officially recognized as the year of the establishment of the Bialer Society.

In the year 1935, the Bialer Women's Association was established in New York, and in the year 1953, the Bialer – Hlusker Independent Society was established.

Each of the organizations conducts its activities at its own level, but in order to distribute help to those landsleit outside of America, the “Bialer Relief Committee”* was established at the outbreak of world War One, that existed only for a few years. During our compatriot Borukh Wajnberg's visit to America from London in the year 1937, under his initiative, the “Bialer Central United Relief Committee” was established, and in this relief committee were representatives from all the Bialer organizations.

Understandably, this refers to the organizational form of the Bialer landsleit in New York, which are the majority of the Bialer family in America. The Bialer landsleit in the other American cities also have their associations.

And, of the organizational forms, [this also refers to] the activities of the individual organizations that established our landsleit in New York.

The Bialer “Branch” of the Workmen's Circle, which was established on January 3, 1910, at that time, was marked with the number 402. The founders were: Nakhum Apelboim, Khaim Wajnglas, Avrohom Bukhwald, Avrohom Handwerker, Jack Gold, Albert Liliental, Yakov Rozenboim, Dovid Shumakher, and Izidor Schweitzer. This organization at that time bore an extraordinary proletariat character. Many Bialer landsleit who did not sympathize with this “Branch”, kept themselves apart from the organization. In the year 1915, a dispute between two members took place in this organization that resulted in a splitting and to the founding of a new organization under the name “Bialer Radical Unit (“Branch”) 569.” With time, however, the misunderstandings were put aside, and on January 1, 1926, the two factions united under the old name and marked itself with a new number 226. landsleit from Mezrycz and Lomaz also belong to the Bialer Division of the Workmen's Circle.

The principles of the Workmen's Circle are that their members are not permitted to be strike breakers, and during elections, they must vote for the candidate that emphasizes the worker's party.

The members pay a fee, and enjoy various supports, such as: medical help, life insurance, sickness support, free burial for the member, his wife, and children (until the age of 18),

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free access to a large number of hospitals, and when a member is sick, friends are sent to visit him.

The Bialer Division of the Workmen's Circle in its time, helped sustain the “Culture League” in Biala, and by sending a large number of books enabled the Bund in Biala to re–establish a library. The organization used to support the weekly “Podlaser Leben” [Podlasker Life]. It also provided financial support to Biala political prisoners, as long as the “Branch” was convinced that the patron would be honestly helping the political prisoner.

In America, the “Branch” supports all cultural and social institutions, with the first in line, the cultural institutions of the Workmen's Circle. It also helps the Jewish Workers Committee; the campaigns for: Histadrut, Combined Jewish Appeal (Magbit), HIAS [Hebrew Immigration Aid Society], YIVO [Yidisher Vissenshaftlekher Institut – an organization that preserves, studies, and teaches the cultural history of Jewish life throughout Eastern Europe, today based in New York City], and a number of other local organizations and institutions, let alone for strike activities and other disputes in which the American workers movement is involved. The active involvement of the “Branch” received recognition for its genuine contribution to the Jewish social life in New York.

The “Branch” is represented in the Bialer Central–United Aid Committee and puts in the greatest energies so that the efforts of the aid committee should be as fruitful as possible.

It is important to mention that when these lines were written, the “Branch” celebrated its 50th anniversary, a period of 50 years of life, creating and inspiring.

The administration of the “Branch” consists of: Khaim Wajnglas – chairman; Yakov Rozenboim – vice–chairman; Sam Zajdman – finance secretary; Khaim Bradacz – protocol secretary; Moris Walecki – treasurer; Av. Stein – hospitals; elected committee – Khaim Bergman, Feivel Gold, Yakov Fast, Viliam Silver, Alter Morgenstern, Ava Sarna.

As already mentioned, not all Bialer were able to belong to the Bialer “Branch”, so several Bialer had the idea of founding a Bialer association, creating a place where all Bialer landsleit, of all political convictions, could meet and share their pains and joys. The need for these few landsleit was to have an association to which all Bialer could belong and feel at home rather than feel restricted.

A “landsmanschaft[1] organization in America is for its members as a community in their birthplace, because in America there were no city communities. The landsmanschaft organizations were established not only for the healthy and living, but also for the sick and more – for the deceased. The first concern for this type of organization is – where do you get a piece of land for a cemetery for these members, after 120 years. The other activities of a landsmanschaft are designed in accordance with the characteristics of its membership.

Organizing a Bialer association was not such a simple thing to do. It required a lot of time, energy, and strong will.

After the Society, which was founded in the year 1907, fell apart, in the year 1908 an effort to revitalize it was made by the landsleit Jack Gold and Khaim Wajnglas, but with no success. Only in the year 1913, was the Bialer Society finally successfully organized. The founding meeting took place in the house of Mrs. Gitel Marks–Rozenblat, who is noted as the mother of the Bialer in America. The initiators of the founding were: Max Nowim, Khana Kaufman, H. Blumberg, Urcze Czarny, Yankel Rosen, S. Sherman, B. Buchwald, Khaim Wajnglas, Jack Gold, Rosner, Roza Nowim (the first secretary), Khaim Bernstajn, Louis Gotfried, Dovid Kaufman, B. Blekhman, Charlie Wajnglas, Alex Nowim, and Berl Blumberg.

This is what Yankel Rozen tells of the beginning times of the Society's activities:

“The first meetings took place at Gitel's (Marks) and Meyer Nowim's home. Later we rented places on Clinton and Delancy streets. The membership fee was ten cents a week, later $1.25 for a quarter, and registration fee of twenty–five cents. We were all young then, between 20 and 25 years old, and a small percent were in the middle years, and there were no elderly at all.

“We used to hold our meetings on the second and fourth of each month. We had large meetings because at that time there was no radio or television yet… I would advertise every meeting, free of charge, in the “Forwartz” [“Forward” – Yiddish newspaper] and in the “Vorheit” [“Truth” – Yiddish newspaper]. We had small expenses. Rent cost us eight dollars per quarter.

“When I became secretary of the Society we bought the cemetery. It appears that we paid $1,500, paying out the sum monthly. There were not many Bialer at that time, and for a long time the cemetery remained empty. It never occurred to us that we would have to buy a second cemetery…

“In our location on Delancy Street, the president was Lemele (Louis Gotfried). If Lemele did not want to give a chaver [friend] the floor, and the other person wanted to speak, Lemele would shout out:

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“Shurrup! This is not Biala!” We were more frightened of his eyes than of his hammer…

More than once there were stormy meetings and the participants became incensed. There was once an incident when a large number of Bialer wanted to invite as a friend a certain Bialer who did not behave properly in Biala, but here in New York he repented, and worked to make a living. But the majority opposed this [membership]. There were also many young Bialer who did not want to belong to the society. But as they got older, they came to us and we accepted them without requiring a large fee from them.”

To the most important tasks of the Bialer Association, belongs the distribution of mutual relief to the landsleit, medical assistance, being involved with sick landsleit, and sending visitors while they are ill, and maintaining their own cemetery (a piece of land that was bought from a general cemetery).

The Bialer association today is one of the most respected organizations on the Jewish street in New York. The society takes part in all activity for benevolent purposes and dispenses sums of money for the Land of the Jews, such as for the campaign of the Histadrut and for the Combined Jewish Appeal. It also actively participates in the assemblies of the local organizations and institutions.

The Bialer Association can proudly claim that it brings into the Central United Aid Committee much larger sums of money than the other Bialer organizations because the members of the Association comprise the wealthier Bialer landsleit who are able to do this and have the good will to help everyone, particularly our own landsleit.

Today's administration of the Society are: Motel Rozenzweig – president; Yerukhem Lipecz – vice president; Hertz Markus – secretary; Khaim Bradacz – protocol secretary; Nathan Silverman – treasurer; Max Nowim – chairman of the cemetery committee; Moris Edelstein – hospitals. Elected committee: Khaim Wajnglas, Yonah Stajnman, Avrohom Lerner, Jack Rozenboim, Khana Kaufman, Jack Gold, and Moris Singer.

The current Bialer Women's Association was founded in the year 1935 by a group of Bialer women, who even though they've been in America for a long time, they still felt bound up to their birthplace with all their sentiments. The push to establish one such organization were the calls for help from the old home, in which there was an expression of need from the poor Jewish population, the difficult situation of the Jewish hospital, seniors' home, and so on.

Each request put to the Bialer Society of the Women's Association, is answered with this: Start your work, and we'll be with you.

The beginning was fine, and from then on the Association was active, not only as a Bialer organization, but also as a participant in the general Jewish life. The aid from the Association is not limited only to Bialer, but all Jewish institutions that need and call for help find an open door in this Association, and no one leaves without support.

The Association is in close contact with the Bialer “Branch,” and holds its meetings in the same location as the “Branch” and also on the same evenings. The women members of the Association feel like one big family and this helps cement the unity and wholeness of the “Bialer Central United Aid Committee” that for so many years bears the responsibility for aid for our Bialer around the entire world.

The largest part of the money collection of the “Bialer Women's Association” is given over to the aid committee.

Let the names be marked here of those who have worked for 25 years and do everything possible to have their assistance reach more people who are in need: Gitel Stern, Gitel Marks–Rozenblat, Malka Orbant, Esther Gold, Czirele Landau, Brajna Bluberg, Sarah Adler, Rivkah Kaufman, and Khaya Lewin.

The organization of the “Bialer–Hlusker Independent Society” is a brother compatriot organization of a completely different type. Other than the mutual aid that is given here to the members, the Association plays a more political–cultural role in the social Jewish life in America.

The organization was established during the period of McCarthyism, after which, as a consequence, other fraternal organizations died out.

The Bialer Association, as good as other similar organizations in the land, adopted a three point program: contributions for the wellbeing of the members, for the Jewish nation, and for the country, the United States.

The members of the Association are like one family that rejoices in the festivities and is sad when, God forbid, there is a tragedy. Medical help is also given to the members for a very low fee. Funerals are arranged upon the death of one of its members or a family member, and they also will acquire a grave, if needed.

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The Association also runs cultural activities, organizing lectures and various culture undertakings during which they familiarize the members with Jewish culture, Yiddish literature, beginning with the classics such as: Mendele, Sholom Aleichem, and Y.L. Peretz, to the end. The spreading of books is encouraged, Yiddish and English books of Yiddish and other authors. The society believes that the future of the Jewish nation lies in planting cultural valuables, in English and Yiddish, into the minds of the Jewish youth. Therefore, greater efforts are placed on cultural activities, such as lectures, concerts, and discussions.

The Association takes part in various activities and discussions that are relevant to, first of all – the Jewish nation, and second – the American people. That is how, for example, the Association, along with other similar societies with which it collaborates, took a position and let its voice be heard against the swastika plague that broke out in Germany in December 1959. All the Jewish organizations were summoned together to cooperate against the re–nazification of West Germany and against the spread of anti–Semitism.

The first “Bialer Aid Committee” was established at the outbreak of World War One, and existed without interruption for several years. The “Bialer Branch” and the “Bialer Society” founded the aid–committee. From time to time, the aid–committee would send significant sums of money to Biala for the benefit of the Jewish hospital and to distribute for the needy people.

With the renewed organization in the year 1937 of the “Bialer Central–United Aid Committee,” the systematic aid activities were renewed for our birthplace Biala. The aid–committee regularly supported the Jewish hospital, soup kitchen, seniors' home, “TAZ” [Jewish Health Organization], and “Culture League.” The committee would also provide a few hundred dollars for maos chitin [basic food for Passover, i.e., matzo, etc.] for every Passover eve.

After the devastation of World War Two, the “Bialer Central–United Aid Committee” undertook the activities with great zeal, and reached Bialer everywhere, wherever there was a need, and from wherever there was a call for help.

We will cite only a few numbers here of the aid activities that were conducted by the aid–committee in the three years, from 1948 until 1951.

Approximately 700 food packages were sent to Israel.

In Paris, a loan–and–save fund was founded for the new immigrants of our landsleit, and through ORT [Jewish education and vocational training non–governmental organisation], ten sewing machines were sent there.

To Poland and Germany, medication was sent to the landsleit in the camps in Germany, where they had a chance of getting out of there but did not have the necessary monies to do so.

The first supports were given to the newly–arrived landsleit in America.

It collaborated with the campaigns of the Histadrut and the Combined Jewish Appeal, and other Jewish aid–organizations.

All around, in these three years, about $13,000 was distributed.

The “Bialer Central–United Aid Committee” accepted the proposition of the landsleit in Israel to perpetuate the memory of our destroyed birthplace Biala by setting up a gemilas chesed fund [non–profit loan fund], whose goal is to help, in a constructive manner, the Bialer landsleit in Israel, particularly, the new olim [emigrés to Israel]. As soon as the fund was set up, the aid–committee sent in a significant sum, and tries that in the future the fund should receive an influx of funds that would enable it fill the needs of the Bialer landsleit in Israel.

The monies for the aid projects are raised through various methods, such as: help from the landsleit and various projects that are organized by the committee.

The aid–committee is in contact with the landsleit outside of New York, such as: Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and even Montreal (Canada).

The Bialer landsleit in America have good reason to be proud of their aid activities which they are carrying on now for almost half a century.

Currently, the administration in New York of the “Bialer Central–United Aid Committee are: chairman – Sam Zajdman; vice–chairmen – Jack Gold, Moris Singer, Elya Marks, Gitel Stern; finance secretary – Avrohom Lerner; protocol secretary – Yonah Stajnman; treasurer – Jack Gold. Administration committee – Motel Rozenzweig, Khaim Bradacz, Sarah Adler, Yakov Rozenboim, Khaim Wajnglas, Philip Gold, Ada Czarny, William Shuster, Moris Walecki, Nakhman Gliksberg.


Compiled with the support of the published works that were printed by the landsleit in New York, and added material from: Khaim Wajngals, Sam Zajdman, Yankel Rozen, Sarah Adler, and others.

Translator's Footnote

  1. landsmanschaft – society, club, or association of Jews who come from the same district, town, city. Return

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B. Los Angeles

Translated by Pamela Russ

Just as the majority of Jewish immigrants that arrived to North America, similarly the newly–arrived Bialer settled in the eastern part of the United States. In the crisis years in America, from 1929, the movement from east to west began. In particular, the migration during the first years of World War Two should be mentioned. With this, the Jewish population did not remain behind. Masses of Jews came to Los Angeles and by now, today, there is a nice Jewish community there that is strong in its cultural activity.

Also, many Bialer migrated to Los Angeles. By chance, I happened to meet Nakhke Feldman who told me how many Bialer are in Los Angeles, and he proposes organizing a Bialer Association.

Once, while sitting at my sister's, Max Burgman and his friend who was introduced as Yosel Zeid, came to visit. I recognized his voice immediately because Yosele Zeid was a chorister for the cantor in the Bialer synagogue. In my day, he was the beloved child of the cantor and of all Biala. Also during our meeting, we began talking about setting up a landsmanschaft. But because of some impediments, and because many Bialer were busy with various other organizations, nothing came of our idea.

The end of World War II came. At the end of 1945, the horrific news came out of Europe. From relatives, we learned that in certain camps in Germany there were Bialer who needed help, and once again we began to talk about a landsmanschaft. By chance, landsman[1] Aron Gold, of blessed memory, came to visit from New York. He was an idealist who sacrificed himself for people and forgot his own personal issues. He was an activist with organizational skills. It was a great merit for us Bialer to have such people in our lineup. He began to organize the Bialer in Los Angeles.

The first meeting took place in May 1947, in the home of Mashe and Sam Wirshup, where a president, Nakhke Feldman, was elected. As secretary, we elected Ina Wolf; even though she was American born, but as a former secretary in Chicago, she was exemplary in her work. I was elected to manage the relief activities.

We began our work, and first we initiated a correspondence with the Bialer committee in the camp Landsberg (Germany). We found relatives in America of these landsleit in Germany and helped them make contact with each other.

Since the number of Bialer in Los Angeles is small, we brought in friends to help with the work, and we called our organization “Bialer and Surrounding Areas Aid Association.”

Our first banquet took place in the year 1948, in “Ad Palace Temple.” Friends and landsleit came. We had a financial success and strengthened the existence of our landsmanschaft.

We pledged to provide $1,200 for the Israel campaign and in the first three years of our existence we donated close to $1,000 to the money–campaign of the Bialer Central Aid Organization in New York.

After the death of our landsman Nakhke Feldman, we elected Max Steinen as president. We continued providing help to our landsleit wherever they needed. We sent food and clothing to everyone who came to us, and did not deny anyone our aid.

When Yakov Kahan came to Los Angeles, a new chapter in our activities began. With his organizational skills, and with his Gerer chassidic fire, Yakov threw himself into the work and tried to position the Bialer landsmanschaft in Los Angeles among the finest institutions in the city. After the sudden death of Max Stein, Yakov Kahan was elected by us as president of the Bialer landsmanschaft.

Yakov Kahan brings a vitality to our meetings that take place once a month. Each time, the meetings take place in the home of a different landsman where we gather at set tables in a homey, friendly environment. A bond develops among the friends, and business deals are even made.

We send money for the loan fund, social fund, and scholarship fund of the landsleit in Israel. We send help there to individuals who for various reasons cannot access the social fund.

We are involved as an organization in many projects of the local Jewish life, such as in all kinds of campaigns. We are particularly active for

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the Histadrut campaign. We, the small group of Bialer, have become a recognized name in Los Angeles.

In acknowledgement of the great activity of our president Yakov Kahan, in May 1954, we organized an impressive evening in his honor, and published a journal. The evening, crowned as a huge success, caused a great clamor within Jewish Los Angeles. They simply wondered how such a small group as these Bialer could carry out such a substantially rich evening.

Our activities are colorful and filled with spiritual content. We celebrate yomim tovim, [Jewish holidays], and in particular, it is already a tradition for us to celebrate Chanuka in the Kahan home. A traditional Chanuka lighting ceremony takes place there. In that fashion, we raise a larger sum of money for our activities.

Our Yosel Zeid has a large share in our culture activities. Almost all of the culture programs of our projects are prepared by him.

At all the meetings, Yosel is the writer, reader, and singer.

Mrs. Rae Kahan, the wife of our president, and the finance secretary of our landsmanschaft, is very active. She announces our meetings and other festivities.

Sam Wirshup has been treasurer since the founding of the landsmanschaft and he is the shipper of packages.

When we glance back on our ten–year–activity, we have to confess that at the very beginning we didn't dream that such a small group of people would be able to conduct such a multi–pronged job. At that time, we didn't dream that we would be able to measure up to the elderly and to many of the other larger landsmanschaften in Los Angeles. This multi–branched work is to the credit of the devoted president, all our friends, men and women, who helped us and continue to help in our work.

Dovid Gordon

Translator's Footnote

  1. Landsman – compatriot, native; a fellow Jew who comes from the same district, town, or city, especially in Eastern Europe Return

In Argentina

by Yakov Aranovitch, Buenos Aires

Translated by Pamela Russ

The first Bialer to step on Argentinian soil was Moshe Justman, known in Biala as Moshe Eidel's the washerman [“der veshin's”], who used to wash laundry in wealthy homes in town. Moshe, an orphan, without a father, became a shoemaker at a very young age, and in the first years of the century he left to Russia. He worked there and became politically active. He became caught up in the revolutionary storm that carried itself across Russia in those years. He supported the anarchistic movement and became a serious activist for this ideal. After a few years in Russia, he returned to Biala where he organized the anarchy group.

As other revolutionary movements, the anarchists were severely harassed by the Czarist powers. Many of them were arrested, others immigrated to other countries, and among those was Moshe Justman.

In the year 1906, Moshe Eidel's came to Buenos Aires. He came along with a cousin of his, a girl from Brisk. Since the girl did not want to remain in Buenos Aires, where there was a lot of prostitution, Moshe took her to her sister in the distant colony of “Klara,” in the province of Entre Rios. On account of the difficulty of communication, in those years, Moshe could not return to Buenos Aries right away, so he had to remain behind for a significant amount of time.

In that colony, Moshe did not find any satisfaction and he went to the town of Kopije. There he found himself in a very difficult financial state and so he went to work in a store. After a short time, he left the store and came to a shoe workshop. Because of his skills with this trade, he was hired as the manager of this workshop. In the year 1908, he married a daughter of a colonist and he opened a shoe store in that town. The difficult economic crisis that developed in the colonies made a severe impact on the stores in the nearby towns. Moshe dissolved his store and left for a larger city where he once again undertook a trade.

Years ran by, Moshe lived through good and bad times, as many others in Argentina. In the year 1942, he moved to Buenos Aires, and he began work as a merchant, sending all kinds of articles to the city provinces. Meanwhile, his sons and daughters grew up, got older, married, built their own homes, and were busy with business. The last few years, Moshe was already a pensioner and received, according to the local laws, a significant monthly fee from the government.

In the year 1910, Moshe brought over his younger brother who married here and settled in a colony near the town of Basil Basa. He is still in this colony until today and conducts a beautiful Jewish life.

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Among the first Bialer immigrants to Argentina were Khilish Rozenwartzel, son of Berke and Khaya Hodel from Biala. He came to Argentina in the year 1909, leaving behind a wife and two children in Biala. I don't know why he emigrated from Biala, nor do I understand it even a little, because he belonged to the chassidic circles, who in those years did not want to emigrate from Biala. Khilish died here. His son Shloime'le, a gaiter stitcher, like many other Bialer came to Argentina in the 20s of this century because of the anti–Semitic regime in Poland and because of the terrible social situation of the Jews living there. After he was there for some time, he brought his bride over from Biala, married, and set himself up according to the possibilities of that time.

In the first years after World War One, Khaim Rozenman (surname Krokus) left Biala for Argentina. He died in the 30s.

A few years after the Bolshevik invasion in Poland, the carpenter Shameh (Shamai) Fridman came to Buenos Aires. He worked in his trade, the times then were very bad and he earned very little. But in a short time, he brought over his wife and children. All of them went through hard times here. The children grew up, started earning a living, and life became a little easier. Later, the children began to trade, and they succeeded to earn some money. Shameh still worked in his trade, but independently on a small scale. The Second World War began. The children had a beautiful workshop of women's clothing and employed a number of workers. Shameh left the workshop and joined the children's business. Things improved, and they didn't live only for themselves, but remembered family and friends.

In the year 1925, Wolfish Shor and his wife, a midwife, came to Buenos Aires. His wife was very successful in her practice here, and Wolfish went into trade. In the year 1947, Mrs. Shor died.

In the years 1925–26, More Bialer came, the majority were not married. Skilled workers got work in their fields, and the unskilled undertook jobs of peddling (driving with pieces of material through the surrounding villages and houses with the materials). They all went through hard times until they were able to succeed in something.

Six of those who came in the years 1925–26 left, going illegally to North America. They left because of the difficult social situation that was going on at that time in Argentina. Four of that group successfully reached New York and their relatives there. Two of this group were detained in Cuba and sent back to Argentina.

One of the two that were sent back, later left to Montevideo (Uruguay). This was a certain Beryl Nukhowycz who at that time was a waiter in Akule's [fish] restaurant in Biala. Since he was unskilled this abovementioned Beryl experienced difficult times in Uruguay. He brought over his wife and children, and with time, things improved for him. The children grew up, studied, and assisted with earning a livelihood. During the later years, thanks to his children, he became wealthy, having set up a large confection store. His son married, and together with his wife, immigrated to Israel as chalutzim [“pioneers” who settled in Israel and worked in agriculture].

In Montevideo, there are three other Bialer families. One of them is the family of Leibel Feigenboim (a son of Zilya the carpenter).

At the end of 1928, the largest group of Bialer comes to Argentina, 15 people, almost all of them unmarried. Again the same thing, everyone is looking for work in his own vocation. The unskilled do whatever there is to do so that because of the difficult economic situation that there was in the country, they would be able to earn enough to live. Some of the newly–arrived could not survive the difficult challenges for existence, and they returned to Biala.

In the year 1929, a group of Biala went to South America – I was among them – to Argentina. The rest settled in Brazil, where today there are about 15–20 Bialer families.

In the year 1931, the Bialer Moshe Perl and his family came to Buenos Aires from Biala. His brother Yosef was already there. Zalman Gotlieb and his wife (of the Perls) came as well. Moshe Perl brought machines from Warsaw that produces cutlery, but he experienced many years of hardship until his product was acknowledged and accepted. Before he arrived, they used to import these items from other countries.

Before the outbreak of World War II, Nakhman Gliksberg arrived with the actual last ship.

Time ran by. Everybody slowly worked their way up. The men brought over their wives and children, and brides, while others married here. Families became bigger and took on citizenship. During the Second World War, the economic situation in the country

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improved and in general the opportunities developed for the immigrants.

After World War II, some Bialer came here, such as: Itzele Friedman, Tzvi Jawor, and so on, who seemingly established themselves.

In the course of the last 25 years, the number of Bialer in Argentina greatly increased. May they continue to increase. They married off children, who are already building their own families, such that there already exists three generations of Bialer.

According to my calculations, there are about 200 Bialer families in Argentina. The Bialer work in different vocations – in trade and in industry, but everything on a small scale, such as in: tailoring, furniture making, knitting, quilt making [stuffing], leather, and metal works. The majority is self–sufficient, and only a small percent of Bialer work for others. There are Bialer who own beautiful shops in the downtown streets of Buenos Aires. Many have their own homes, which is not an easy thing to achieve here, and almost all of the Bialer make a nice living.

In social life, the Bialer do not have a significant place, with the exception of the two landsleit Zalman Gotlieb and Yakov Palaticki. Individuals support each important institution, but the Bialer are not involved in these respectable institutions, such as: community, school, banks, cooperatives, YIVO [Institute for Jewish research, “Yiddisher Wiessenschaflicher Institut”], and so on.

It is worthwhile to mention a beautiful deed of our compatriot Zalman Gotlieb and his wife. In the year 1955, they celebrated their silver wedding anniversary in a festive manner. The Gotliebs presented an idea to all those invited guests, requesting not to give them any gifts, but instead to spend the funds for the building of a Jewish synagogue. Thanks to this request, a significant sum was put together for the abovementioned task.

The Bialer in Argentina accomplished something positive in the philanthropic area.

According to my initiative, several projects were undertaken until World War Two, with great material success, in order to support three widows.

After the terrible devastation of European Jewry during World War Two, a Bialer committee was spontaneously developed, as it happened for many other landsleit in Argentina, with the goal of helping our surviving Bialer. At the head of the committee, among others, were: the author of these lines, Zalman Gotlieb, Shameh Friedman, Yakov Weisglas, Avrohom Dogodni, Nakhman Gliksberg, and Beryl Fishleder. The committee sent a few boxes of good new clothing and shoes to Poland. Soon, $200 was also sent to the Bialer committee in Lower Silesia (Poland).

Many of the second generation, primarily girls, already pursued middle–school education, primarily in commercial school. The graduates of this school have jobs in banks, business offices, and so on. A Bialer completed his studies in medicine and is a respected doctor. This is Dr. Yosef Ribak. His mother is the daughter of the Bialer shochet [ritual slaughterer] Shmuel Rubenstajn. His father, Leibel Ribak, died several years ago. Dr. Yosef Ribak came here with his mother when he was an eight–year–old child. In Biala, he studied Jewish subjects, but when he came to Argentina he began to study worldly subjects with great eagerness, and successfully completed his studies. Dr. Ribak is a nationalistically inclined Jew and is not embarrassed to use the Yiddish language.

Some of the Bialer youth become distant from Jewish life and we, to our great dismay, mark two incidents of mixed marriages of Bialer youth.

In the year 1948, because of the United Israel Appeal, there was a split in Argentina within the Jewish population. There were two camps: a national one and progressive one that mutually conflicted with each other.

The split, understandably, did not bypass the Bialer landsleit. Because of the shared conflict and argumentation there could be nothing substantial created by the Bialer. The only thing that we, a group of nationally disposed Bialer, established through my initiative in the last few years, was a publication. The book was by our landsman M.Y. Feigenboim, by the name of “Podlaska in the Nazi Vice.”


[Page 481]

In France

Translated by Pamela Russ

The first Bialer Jews came to Paris in the year 1905 after the failure of the revolution in Russia.

The large immigration from Biala to France began in the year 1919. Almost all of the Bialer settled in Paris. The newly–arrived Bialer worked as carpenters, bag makers, tailoring, upholstery, and a large number were merchants in the market.

In the year 1928, there were about 60 Bialer in Paris, and they organized a union for shared relief. At the head of this union were: honored chairman – Bernard Liberman, chairman – Abish Liberman, secretary – Simon Levin, treasurer – Moshe Rikhter, aid treasurer – Tukhmincz, senator – Max Bluberg, administration member – Fingerhut, review committee – Jack Grodner and Zauerman.

Until the war, in the year 1939, the number of the union members grew to one hundred. The union conducted cultural and social activities. The loan fund that was established in the union helped the Bialer landsleit tremendously to settle in France.

Understandably, when the destruction befell the Jews in France during World War II, the Bialer landsleit were not left behind. Around 30 Bialer were deported from France by the Germans and did not return after the war. A significant number of the Bialer saved themselves from death during the Nazi occupation by crossing the border into Spain and Switzerland, and also by migrating to the free French zone or to North Africa. There were some Bialer who fell into German imprisonment as French military and survived.

After the war, a number of Bialer came to France. Thanks to the aid from the Bialer landsleit in America, many newly–arrived were able to successfully establish themselves in Paris. Many of the freshly–arrived to Paris went to other western European countries, and also to Israel.

Today, the Bialer union has about 120 members and is one of the most respected in Paris. This union in Paris has perpetuated the memory of the destroyed Bialer settlement by putting up a monument.

The union frequently holds meetings, and in that way provides an opportunity for the Bialer to get together in a homey setting. There is a loan fund in the union that helps the needy. Every year, a yizkor [memorial] event is organized in memory of the Bialer martyrs. The union makes all efforts that the youth of the Bialer landsleit should feel connected to the birthplace of their parents.

At the head of the union is the administration, in the following order: president – Shmuel Kahan, vice president – Gedaliah Kromarzh amd A. Tukhmincz, treasurer – Moshe Rikhter, secretary – Yitzkhok Wajngarten, administration members – H. Herczberg, Simon Levin, Reuven Rozenker, Baverman, Jurberg, Dovid Zegman, Gliksberg, and Stulmakher.

(The details were submitted by the Bialer union in Paris in the year 1954.)

In Canada

by Noakh Bresker, Montreal

Translated by Pamela Russ

The Bialer settlement in Canada is, in relative terms, still young, even though it is marking its 200th anniversary of existence. A significant immigration of Jews to Canada first began at the end of the 19th century. After World War I, a mass immigration took place, which increased since the gates to North America were locked before the flood of immigration. In particular, the youth from Poland and Rumania flowed to Canada, since they saw no future for themselves in their countries of birth.

In the year 1920, the first Bialer stepped into Canada. He was Yosel (Yosef) Klempner (Szternfeld), a son of the known Bialer resident Yermiyahu Kesler. His difficulties and experiences were the same as all the immigrants at that time. In a short time, he brought over his wife Khana Kliger, (a daughter of Mendel Bendelmakher [ribbon, string maker]).

The first Bialer did not forget their friends back home. In Montreal, Yosel searched for the family Wiener, an uncle of Khana Bresker. The uncle brought over his niece (Khana, a daughter of Yitzkhok and Gitel Bresker – from the police). Our first Bialer brought over their sisters and brothers.

With the outbreak of World War II, immigration to Canada stopped completely. At the end of the war, we find the following 20 families in Montreal:

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Yosel Klempner (4 people), Yitzkhok Rozen (before Rozenker – 6 people), Max Locszewski (brother of Itke Rozen – 5 people), Yedidya Klempner (Yermiyahu's older son – 6), Noakh Bresker (brother of Khana Bresker – 4), Leyale Frishman (daughter of Aron Yekhiel Melamud – 4), Khana Kalina (Before Bresker – 4), Motel Kliger (son of Mendel Bendelmakher – 2), Beryl Kilger (brother of Motel – 2), Leybel Kliger (brother of Motel – 3), Feyge Shultz (sister of Motel Kliger – 4), Elye (Eliyahu) Baumholcz (2), Zavel Baumholcz (5), Nakhum Goldricz (4), Soroh Turowycz (daughter of Aron Yechiel Melamed – 3), Khaim Mjodek (4), Malke Klempner (sister of Yosel), Frieda Liberman (now in Israel – 2), Avrohom Libman (3), and Khaim Baumholcz (4).

After the war, these Bialer came to Montreal:

Max and Yehudis Greenberg and a daughter (Max, son of Feivel Leshner, and Yehudis – a daughter of Avik Agrodnik – 3), Yakov Goldschmidt (5), Aron Rotenberg (5), Meyer Rzepa and Khayale Pakman (4), Beryl Pakman (2), Hershel Pakman, Yosel and Esther Rikhter (Yosel – Esther Perele's grandson, Esther – daughter of Mikhalkele Drozhkarz – 4), Hershel Gitelman (5), Y. Puterman (Moshe Buke's son), M. Shneiderman, Moshe and Gitel Karalik (2), M. Bukhinyek (4), Reuven Lerner (the tombstone etcher's grandson – 4), Yehoshua Gershkop (4), Hodel Bukhinyek (3), M. Fruchtenberg (now in Winnipeg), Avrohom Salski (now in New York – 2).

According to today's numbers there are 36 families in Montreal with 114 souls, may they increase.

Let us mention here the Bialer who have left us for eternity.

Yosel Rikhter, Soroh Turowycz, Czarne Baumholcz, Meyer Zhefa, Henya Riva Klempner (daughter of Yedidya), Hershel Laskin (10–year–old son of Max Locszewski, and the wife and two young daughters of Khaim Mjodek (Soroh, Khana Eidel, and Yaffa), who tragically died on their trip to Israel (in the El Al airplane that was shot down in Bulgaria in the year 1955).

Their memory is etched respectfully in our hearts.

According to our information, there is an organized body of Bialer only in Montreal because the majority of them are there. There are several Bialer in other cities in the country but we were unable to make contact with them.

The first efforts of organizing a Bialer landsmanschaft were made in March 1935, when we received a notice from the Bialer community about help for their institutions. At that time we met at the home of Yosel Klempner and it was unanimously decided to establish an organization of Bialer and the surrounding areas, for those who live in Montreal. An administration was elected: Noakh Bresker – chairman, Yosel Klempner – vice chairman, Motel Kliger – protocol secretary, Shimon Kolina – finance secretary, Yitzkhok Rozen – treasurer, Itke Rozen, Khana Kolina, Khana Klempner, Leyale Frishman, and Faige Schultz.

Several projects were organized and the profits from them, along with personal donations – a larger sum of money – were given over to the Biala institutions: hospital, visiting the sick, library, and sponsorship of political prisoners.

With few disruptions, the Bialer landsmanschaft existed the entire time. The work intensified after the war. After we received notices that there were Bialer in Lodz and in the camps in Germany and Italy, we raised a larger sum of money and sent packages of food and clothing. We brought a few families over to Canada. At that time, we worked together with the Bialer in New York, with whom we keep in constant contact. From that time on, the memorial assembly is held every Isru Chag of Sukkos [the day following the last day of the holiday of Sukkos]. The Bialer in Montreal gather together then and with great emotion, they honor the memory of the Bialer martyrs who were murdered by the Nazis.

Among the local Bialer, there are no wealthy men. A large portion of them remained as workers in their professions. There are some Bialer businessmen who work with clothing, construction, and the printing industry.

The children mainly work in independent professions, such as: three medical doctors, five engineers (in various areas), one teacher, and so on.

The Bialer here are active socially. You find them in all the organizations and social institutions, such as: Zionist ones (Poalei Tzion, Women's Pioneers, associations), leftist workers' organizations (Jewish fraternities), schools, press, and so on.

The differences do not interfere with the unity of working together in the landsmanschaft for the benefit of our Bialer. Here, in the landsmanschaft, all party differences are forgotten, and we are only Bialer.

Recently, a new administration of the landsmanschaft was elected. The chairman's office was given to the first Bialer in Montreal, Yosel Klempner. Also, some newly arrived were elected onto the administration, such as: Beryl Pakman – vice chairman, and Yehudis Grinberg.

The monthly meetings have a family flavor.

[Page 483]

We celebrate together at our festivities and the same, Heaven forbid, at opposite events. At this time, our activities are concentrated on creating models for helping the Bialer in Israel.

The existence of the landsmanschaft gives us a feeling of closeness to our city of birth, and helps us hold onto the memories of a colorful and all–time Jewish life that resounded in the city where we spent the best years of our youth – in the Jewish Biala that was destroyed, and where our dearest ones were gruesomely wiped out.

We will remember them always and memorialize them with great respect.

In Australia

by Hershel Orlanski, Melbourne

Translated by Pamela Russ

In the 90s of the previous century, there already was a Bialer Jew [in Australia]. At the same time, a second Bialer Jew settled in neighboring New Zealand. These two Bialer Jews did not come directly from Biala, but from London where they lived. It is understood that these two Jews were influenced by the immigration of the English to Australia, and they flowed together with the flow of the English immigration to the distant East.

The influx of Bialer to Australia began only a few years after World War One.

The first Bialer Jew who came with this migration to Australia was Faivel Ovjes (son of Niskele Muljer). He came in the year 1924, and lives to this day in Melbourne.

Some years later, the others that came were: Yakov Friedman, may he rest in peace, Khaim Jurberg, may he rest in peace, Shmuel Jurberg, may he rest in peace, Yeshayohu Blankleider, Simkha Eidelman, Khaim Lustigman, Avrohom Semjoticki, Hinde Schneider, Avrohom Perkelwald, Shmaye Friedman, Beryl and Mikhel Feigenboim, Motel Perkelwald, may he rest in peace, Melekh Suknow, Asher Grinblat, Yakov Dogodni (went back to Biala). These mentioned are the Biala pioneers in Australia.

After acclimatising themselves, they began bringing over their families and friends, and as it went, they set themselves up in the land. The majority settled in Melbourne, and only some in Perth.

At the beginning of the 30s, Australia was in the grip of an economic crisis, and the immigration was completely stopped.

Only around 1936/37 did another migration begin. Thanks to the efforts of relatives and friends who were already residents there, or because of permits (permission for entry) directly from the government, the following Bialer came until World War Two: Khaim Suknow, Herhsel Orlanski, Yakov and Esther Zukerkand, Etel Schneider, may she rest in peace, Yakov and Avrohom Schneider, Rivka Rodziner, Max Wrubel, Miriam, Avrohom, Aron and Khaim Feigenboim, Yosel Birstajn (now in Israel), Raizel Birstajn, Gitel and Yisroel Blankleider, Yitzkhok Friedman, Breindel Fridman, may she rest in peace, Pesakh Semjocki, Yeshayohu Rozenboim, and his daughter Soroh Lieba Soroki, Sheyne Teperman, Avrohom Kohen, the brothers Yisroel and Moshe Dzhenstal, Rokhel Dorfman, Moshe Grinblat, may he rest in peace, the brothers: Binyomin, may he rest in peace, Moshe and Leybel Perkelwald, Avigdor Shnur, Sheindel Feigenboim (now in North America), Leybel Nukhowicz, and so on.

Some of the immigrants of both groups did not come directly from Biala, but from other countries of emigration, such as: France, Belgium, and so on.

Some of the Bialer came with families. Others managed to bring over their families before the outbreak of war, but some did not manage that.

After the war, the following came: the Orlonski sisters (two daughters of Avrohom Orlonski), the Lerner brothers, Moshe Piterman, Y. Dorfman, Shmuel Gwiazda and his wife, Rivkah Nukhowycz, Khaim Malina, Moshe Teperman, Mindel Konicki–Feigenboim, Meyer Zinger, Berish Urbakh, Manje and Leybel Wurm, Velvel Wajnberg, Aron Semjoticki, the Rozenshein sisters, Khaim Hofman, Raizel Kornhendler, Pinkhas Wobnik with his wife and children, Lebel Finkelstajn, Ruzhke Dzhenszel, Aron Birman with his wife and son.

The majority of those mentioned came with their families, and just as with the earlier immigrations, the majority of them settled in Melbourne. Almost all of them worked as small merchants and in small industry, and set themselves up quite well.

Shortly after the outbreak of World War II, in the year 1940, a Bialer landsmanschaft was set up in Melbourne where they established their mission to organize and prepare aid for the Bialer Jews who were victims of the war, to remain in contact with the landsleit in other countries, so that in the moment of need they would be ready with the necessary help. The murderous result of the war put a halt to our plans.

(Some details – from Yosel Birstajn, Kibbutz Givat, Israel)

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Our Compatriot, Yakov Wirnik a Witness
at the Eichmann Trial in Jerusalem

(addendum to the portrait of Yakov Wirnik on page 352)

Translated by Pamela Russ

On June 6, 1961, before a court in Jerusalem, in the trial against the German monster–murderer Adolf Eichmann, described as a witness, is Yakov Wirnik, who today is 72 years old and lives in Rishon Letziyon.

Yakov Wirnik was brought to the death camp Treblinka on August 23, 1942, during the expulsion in the Warsaw ghetto. A picture of the model of the camp Treblinka, that was completed by the witness and is in the museum of Kibbutz Lokhamei HaGeta'ot, was hung up on the wall of the courtroom. Yakov Wirnik, who was among the builders of Treblinka, indicating the model, explained the goal of each object in the camp. His descriptions greatly disturbed the listeners. He recounted:

As they arrived, the people remained standing between two large barracks. The men remained outside. The women were taken inside a barrack where their hair was shaved off. The people were taken into the gas chambers, the doors were locked, and a motor was left running, as it would fill the chambers with gas. After 40–45 minutes, all the people there had suffocated.

Yakov Wirnik saw, when they opened the doors of the gas chambers, how the bodies of those who were gassed were pressed and stuck together. When the dead were taken out of there, he saw the gas chambers which had rooms the size of seven by seven meters, with somewhat of an inclined floor. When the people inside suffocated and were already dead, they rinsed off the floors with a hose or with buckets of water.

There was a barrack there that was called the “Lazarett.” They brought the elderly there, seated them on benches and shot them all from the back.

Until the end of 1942, they would bury the dead in large ditches. But at the beginning of 1943, they ran tests for burning the bodies, but the tests did not work. Then an SS man came forward, with the rank of unit–leader [Scharführer], who demonstrated the burning of the bodies spread out on iron rails. This SS man, stood close to the fire and shouted: “Flawless! Flawless!” (in the best order).

On August 2, 1943, there was an uprising in the camp. The witness, who was one of the leaders of this uprising, succeeded in escaping from Treblinka.

He returned to Warsaw and found a hiding place at his Christian friend, Stephan Pszibiszewski. Wirnik joined the underground movement, and disguised as an Aryan, he got a job in the Warsaw magistrate. As a night guard against air strikes in Staszic palace in Warsaw, he sat at night and drew the plan of the Treblinka death camp. He also wrote the brochure “A Year in Treblinka,” because he assumed that no one would know anything about this camp. The brochure was published in Polish and in English. It was sent to North America and Professor Gorky sent it over to London.


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