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[Page 129 - 131]

Orgeyever Ladies Committee In New York

By G. Shafin-Spivak

Translated by Marsha Kayser

Whoever emigrates to America, “the Golden Land,” finds out that, no sooner does he get off the boat, than he can start to worry immediately about the unfortunate and suffering people exhausted by hunger and hardship, who were left behind in the old home, and thinks he will come to their aid as soon as possible. You are sure about this, that in the Golden Land, everyone rakes in dollars with shovels, and you will not encounter any hungry children, children who have no education or whose upbringing suffers…it seems to you that, after you get a roof over your head, you will immediately immerse yourself in the effort and manage to get money somehow, in order to help out the miserable people left behind in the old home.

But the reality is entirely different. The rosy pictures described before leaving for the Golden Land are transformed into dark clouds. Your own friends, on whom you have built your golden fantasies, are themselves pressed in the struggle for a living…and you look around, totally forlorn, in a foreign environment, without the language, no friendly glance, a stranger among thousands of strangers. Pained, you must refuse to think about those left behind on the other side of the ocean. And even during sleepless nights, in a morbid mood filled with longing and tormented by certain drudgery, the pale images emerge of the old home, and you must, despite the pain and awareness, stifle your feelings because your situation is also wretched and helpless.

Years went by…in 1929, an economic crisis occurred worldwide, especially in Bessarabia. And a cry of desperation reached us from the honorable community leader Moyshe Ravich, regarding the tough situation with which the leaders of the Ladies Committee in Orheyev struggled. The community leaders, Mrs. Rachel Ravich and Mrs. Rivka Levinson, were literally desperate due to the critical economic crisis in which the Ladies Committee found themselves, unable to provide a warm bit of cooked food for the hungry suffering children from Talmud-Torah or Yeshivah.

Stirred by the outcry, I turned to my close friends and we went out to our Orheyev compatriots for help. Our first step was very difficult. For entire days we climbed up the hilly streets in the Bronx and Brooklyn. We returned tired and disappointed by evening with meager donations. But the image of suffering and hungry children in Orheyev stood before our eyes and would not permit failure. We prevailed upon more Orheyev women to dedicate themselves to the important campaign. With their help we achieved gratifying results. At that time my brother Avrum returned from a search in Bessarabia. When we had an opportunity we called together an assembly of Orheyev compatriots to whom he gave a moving and eloquent greeting and described the horrible situation in Orheyev. Moved to tears by the harsh news, we doubled our efforts for the relief campaign. In a short time we sent the collected funds. Our fervent wish, to establish frequent contact with Orheyev, unfortunately failed because the administration of Romanian postal officials was in disarray.

Twenty-five years passed from that time and from the time of the influenza epidemic. The active people, pictured here in “Orgeyever Ladies Committee in New York,” now worked not for Orheyev but for the State of Israel.

Board of Orheyev spouses

Board of Orheyev spouses
From right to left the fifth one sitting is Miss Ravich


Orgaver Ladies Committee in New York

Orgaver Ladies Committee in New York


Child care, founded by Board of Orheyev spouses

Child care, founded by Board of Orheyev spouses


Footnote regarding the writings of Gitel Shafin-Spivak

Mrs. G. Shafin-Spivak was the first to respond to our message, to participate in the book and sent us her memoirs, which show her noble responses to various community organization activities in which she served as a leader. Raised an orphan (without a mother) and with the father a sick man, she relied on her own abilities and earned everyone's respect. What a rarity - like no one else, she showed concern and valued the importance of the Yizkor book, thinking it the least possible expression of our duty to those murdered. Also, in the middle of everything else, she got out the picture of the farm from her brother's archive (a picture that went back sixty years – ed. note: see Figure 84) and sent many letters promoting the distribution of the book and wished to live to see the fruits of the writing. As in her childhood, she had a bitter fate at the end of her life. After three hard sick years confined to bed, her soul soared.

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