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[Page 329]

Landslayt (countrymen) in America


The Activity and Aid of the American Landsmanshaft

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

The history of the Lenyin Association in America begins with its foundation on 6th October 1906, Hol–Hamoed (intermediate days) of the holiday of Sukkot, in New–York.


Announcement of meetings of the Society


Of the first 12 founders of the Society, today 3 are alive: David ben [son of] Yehuda Shullman, Yitzhak ben Chaim Yakov Ginsburg and Itche ben Yosef Noah Rabinowitz; the others are deceased:

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Name Died on At the age of
Chaim Dov Hashkowitz 21.9. 1937 82 years
Binyamin Siklik (Zeitchik) 16.4.1922 58
Akiva Neiman 15.5.1933 59
Nathan Rovnitz 22.11.1934 58
Avraham Yitzhak Kravyetz 31.12.1934 62
Makhe, granddaughter of Israel Harofe 30.5.1939 62
Grunem Migdalowitz 19.10.1949 72
Menachem Mendel Zeitchik 17.8.1949 72
Itche Unterman (Grinberg) 18.6.1948 73


Until WWI there was in fact almost no special aid activity for the benefit of the old home. The real work began only during the world war. The European Continent was still locked for us and we had almost no information or news from there. We were very worried since we felt that terrible things were happening.


Akiva Neiman z”l   Chaim Dov Hashkowitz z”l


We started to establish and prepare a fund which should enable, as soon as we could make contact, to help and support the needy there. We called special meetings, we elected a committee and we managed to collect a sizeable sum of money.

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Right after the war ended, although not everything had returned to normal, we contacted the Lenin leaders, A.I. Khinitch, Zalman Bressler and others and we began sending aid in the form of food, clothing and money.

In order to improve the aid–activity of the organization we sent – after the example of other organizations – a special delegate to the localities that needed our help, to get acquainted with the local people and the situation and organize the work. The delegate was our esteemed landsman Yakov Galob; we sent with him a considerable amount of money. Unfortunately, however, his mission did not succeed, since he arrived in Warsaw at the time of the Polish–Bolshevik war and the shtetl Lenin was at that time on the Russian side of the border and it was impossible to reach it. After waiting 8 months in Warsaw, he had to return to New–York, regrettably.

In time, when our shtetl Lenin was back, finally, under Polish rule, the contact improved and we began receiving bad news: the population was very impoverished, the taxes were high and people couldn't make a living etc. They wanted to emigrate, but America introduced the “quota.”

At that time, many former Lenin residents traveled to Lenin to meet their relatives and acquaintances, and to see the situation with their own eyes. Among them was Dr. Tilya Shmelkin, who stayed in Lenin during 1929. Upon her return to America she described to the members the true situation in Lenin, and began, with full enthusiasm and devotion, together with others, to organize a Women's Association, which should devote its time solely to create aid and send it to the needy in Lenin.

On 4 June 1929, a meeting was held in the home of Dr. Tilya, with the participation of the following women: Dr. Tilya Shmelkin Waltman, Khishe Kahan, the sisters Itke Pitkin and Sara Levinson (daughters of Yehuda Shusterman), the sisters Sara Carmen and Pashe Etke Kadish (daughters of Nisan Bregman) and Masha Rovnitz.

These women organized a committee with the purpose of establishing a Women's Association. Mrs. Khishe Kahan asked the president of the Landsmanshaft to help her in this matter, and on 30 June 1929

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the Women's Association was founded. Dr. Singalovski also participated in the meeting. The following women were elected to the various functions: Sara Carmen – president; Khishe Kahan – vice–president; Itke Khinitch – secretary of finance; Dr. Tilye Waltman (Shmelkin) – treasurer.

The purpose of the Association was entirely different from that of our men's association. While the men's association dealt with mutual help for our Landsleit here in America, the women's association's purpose was to help the Landsleit in the old home. Little–by–little more landswomen joined, and soon a lively group formed, which devoted itself with heart and soul to creating means of aid for the old home.

It is difficult to describe here the various forms of help that the ladies association organized during its long years of existence. The results of that great and devoted work were noted by all.

Those who were saved and are still alive certainly remember Erev Rosh Hashana [the eve of the Jewish New Year] and the eve of Passover in town, when aid of all sorts would arrive from America, in the form of money, food packages and clothing.

As testimony stand the many thank–you letters that we received from Lenin, for the aid that saved many, in particular the poor, who simply did not have the possibility to prepare for Passover or other holidays.

We would receive from Lenin a list of the needs and the needy, and we would prepare the materials accordingly, adding things for good measure. The money was sent to the address of Grayews, and Itke Khinitch would add a note that in case that there were in town needy people who were not on the list – they should give them the needed sums and they will be reimbursed.

Some of the people, about whom we knew that they were ashamed to ask openly for help, we would bring the packages to their homes, secretly.

Once, on Passover eve, it happened that we were late in sending out the help, and the committee distributed among the needy “coupons” with which they could buy what they needed in the local shops.

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Later the bills would be sent to America and be paid promptly.

The Women's Association did a tremendous amount of work after WWII as well, by establishing contact with Europe and sending help to the survivors in the various camps, in the form of money and food packages. This aid activity is continued to this day in various forms, according to the example and tradition of the many social and aid–institutions, with which we, the Jews of America, are blessed.

Writing about the important meaning of the women's organization, we must stop and mention a very important person, who was strongly connected with the Association and played an important role in its activity, from the first days of its founding to the last days of its existence. This is the very well–known and esteemed Avraham Yitzhak Khinitch z”l. He was entirely devoted to the aid–activity, participated in every meeting of the ladies despite his advanced age, despite cold, snow or rain. They called him, with respect, “our father.”

His passing was a great loss for the association and for the leading members. Work became more difficult, and most of it fell on the shoulders of the daughter Itke, who continued the great tradition of her father.

We shall mention shortly the few leading persons of the Association and some of the members as well, who, by their devoted work and efforts helped bring the great aid–activity to full success during the long years of its existence.

Sara Carmen – the first president of the association – an intelligent and talented activist and speaker and her husband Mr. Carmen, since few years secretary of protocol.

Khishe Kahan – first vice–president – a very able organizer and leader, she organized the “Khassye” Club of the pioneer women – a very important Zionist Women organization for the benefit of Israel.

Dr. Tilye Waltman (Shmelkin) – the first organizer and treasurer of the women's association.

Itke Khinitch – finance secretary – one of the most loyal and devoted doers; about her a separate article is written.

Hellen (Chaia) Bushler (Nathan Ruvnitz' daughter) – the second president of the association.

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Her father Nathan was the first president of the men's association and finance secretary.

The following were vice–presidents and occupied important places in leading work of the association: Ethel Rubin and Bessy (Beyzie) Rivkin with her husband – daughters of Chaim Yakov from Gritchinowitz; Khine Dubitzki – Avraham Mordechai Khrafun's daughter; Riva Goldberg – granddaughter of Israel Harofe; Geigel Yaz and Masha Greenwald – Yakov Yeshaya Lifshitz' daughters; Chaia Sara Feder – Chaim Dov Khashkowitz' daughter; Mally (Menucha) Kaplan – granddaughter of Yechiel HaCohen; Asne Weiner – wife of Moshe Chaim Weiner z”l; the sisters Chava Muziker and Razy (Rashke) Levin; Chana Merke Marmer – Berl Khlapiners' daughter; Dobe Blum – Makhe's wife; Yitzhak (Ike) Ginsburg and his wife – son of Yakov from Gritchinowitz; Bessie (Bashe Etke) Kadesh and her husband – daughter of Nisan Bergman; Yakov Yeshaya and Chaia Sara Lifshitz – devoted members, of the most active in the association; Chaia Sara (Seidy) Levinson – daughter of Yehuda Shulman – one of the main founders and leaders, together with her sister Itka Pitkin; Khishe Faley and her husband Yeshaya – daughter of the widow Osne; Ette Temkin, wife of Chaim Temkin z”l; Mania Sokolov – daughter of Yechiel Hacohen z”l; Khishe Slutzki; the two sisters: Frume Weiner – wife of Hillel Weiner z”l and Sara Feigel – wife of Sender Khrafon.

The new arrivals, survivors of the last war and camps, as well as partisans are also very active and of great help for the general success of the undertaking. Naturally, almost all local Landsleit, in the various cities, have done great work in help and support. Without them, the leaders could not have succeeded in carrying out the work.

To all these, we express our best and deepest thanks. May all blessings, sent by those who have felt the helping hand of their sisters and brothers in Ameriva, by fulfilled.

Written by M. Zeitchik
(According to letters from America)

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Itke Khinitch – “the Mother of Lenin”

by Mordechai Rubinstein (Migdalowitz)

Translated by Yocheved Klausner



Itke Khinitch


A normal phenomenon: stars are shining in the sky, and sometimes it seems to us that one star is torn out of its place, falls and is extinguished. This natural phenomenon is also characteristic of us, dwellers of this world. We meet persons, talents, blessed public workers during certain periods of their lives and suddenly we notice that their source, for various reasons, has dried out and they retire to a quiet corner. To our great satisfaction, this has not happened to the rare woman, whose portrait I shall try to depict shortly here.

Since tens of years, Itke is, literally, the living spirit, the recognized authority among our American Landsleit. For tens of years she is the address where anyone who needs help in one form or another is being listened to, with the greatest attention. For years, Itke is the direct “address” to obtain, read and reply to uncounted letters and to organize help: collect clothing and money and send out food packages.

I had the privilege to follow with great attention her blessed activity during the years after the destruction of our most beloved families, when the few survivors were lost in the various camps in bleeding Germany, Austria, Italy and Cyprus on their way to Eretz Israel. Later I have seen her activity for the benefit of those who came to our shores. She was always ready to welcome and help all needy, especially those who did not trust themselves to ask for help directly.

Understandably, everything was done with the active help of the entire Women's Committee – R'Nissan Bergman's daughters, Mrs. Khisya Cohen, Mrs. Chava Slutzki and many

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others, whose names I unfortunately do not know, and with this opportunity I wish to express – to the known and to the unknown – a heartfelt “well done!” and thanks.

But what was the source from which the physically weak lady drew so much strength and energy? This is a question that is not easy to answer. It is clear and certain, that Itke is a flowing spring of human love in general and Jewish love in particular, of devotion and feeling for any sufferer.

We all wish her – and us – that she continue for many, many years, with the same courage and good health, her blessed activity, and continue to carry with pride the name “the Mother of Lenin,” for the benefit of all those who mention her name with respect and greatest honor.


Kalman Temkin


As we remember our dear martyrs from our shtetl, we should also remember and mention those, who helped the she'erit hapleita [the surviving remnants].

Quietly and modestly, without noise and promotion, Itke Khinitch devoted most of her life to others, especially those whom the bitter fate has thrown into concentration camps and then, if they survived, into homeless barracks.

All these know very well who Itke Khinitch is, because she was and remained a loving mother and a devoted sister to all who needed help. Whoever needed an address of relatives, a package of food or clothing, or a little money so he could stand on his own feet – would turn to Itke Khinitch and no one was sent back.

Not taking into account her frail health, this noble lady never stopped calling and waking, and organizing the holy help activity – since helping others is her life–ideal.

May you be blessed, our dear Itke. We are proud of you and of your life's work. You gave us courage and renewed our belief in humankind. We all wish you good health and long, long years of fruitful work.

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Helen (Chaia) Bushler

(Daughter of Nathan Rubnitz). Second president of the Lenin Women's Association


Ethe Temkin (with her husband Chaim Z”l)

They brought from Lenin to America the spirit of Tzedaka (charity), hospitality and religious life. Ethe's devotion is almost impossible to evaluate…


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