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The Story of the
Belchatower Young Men's Society

By Samuel Naparstek

Our thirtieth anniversary, yes, this is our thirtieth year of existence on this earth. When a human being reaches the age of thirty, his parents are just a bit sad because this child of theirs is no longer a part of them, he is a grown man. His parents, who cared for him, watched over him when he was sick and helped him when he was discouraged must step aside. A Society when it grows older, however, is the cause of jubilant happiness to the parents, who worked for it, when their days' work was done; who scrimped for themselves that it might grow in wealth; for these men shall never be forgotten and shall never step aside.

It was Saturday night, November 18, 1911, Simchas Torah night, and Mendel Eisner had invited his closest friends to his home for dinner. The meal was done and the group of young men were sitting about the dining room talking over times in the old country. They had all come from the same small town in Poland, Belchatow. There were things to be done, there were people who needed help, but there was no place to go for these things. Suddenly Mendel Eisner said, "Why, why can't we form a society of our own townspeople here in New York; why can't we young men have some organization which will keep us together for the rest of our lives so that we shall not drift apart." This same idea had evidently been in the minds of all who had gathered there, because the suggestion was unanimously accepted. Then with the payment by each of a quarter as his first week's dues, there was founded the Independent Benevolent Society of Belchatower Young Men. Few of those young men that night realized the heartaches, the work and the tribulations that they were letting themselves in for, but this can be said, that only when it has been absolutely necessary has anyone among them ever left the fold. These young men, who fathered this proud organization, which so happily celebrates its thirtieth anniversary tonight were: Mendel Eisner, Alexander Naparstek, Rubin Samuels,  Samuel Frishman, William Frishman, Isidore Silver and Jacob Moscowitz.

After the first meeting, meetings were held in Brother Samuels' home. There was selected the insignia of this fledgling, the clasped hands, the sign of friendship and aid to your friends in need. There was started the slow and tiresome process of slowly building, building to make this Society great and known.

The organization had been up but a very short time, when the first request for aid came, not from a member, but from a fellow townsman, who was in distress. True to their ideal, no questions were asked, the facts were ascertained, and since the treasury was but barely standing on its own feet, aid was open-handedly given by the Brothers from their own pockets. That this has been repeated many times in years past is not important; that these young men did not falter, when the first request came, shows how strong was the ideal of aid and friendship to which they had pledged themselves.

Meetings were continued for seven months in Brother Samuels' home and many grateful thanks are due to his wife for the cheerfulness she displayed during this period when the going was hardest.

By the end of the first year thirty-five members had come into the fold and the Society had moved to its first regular meeting-hall on 66 Essex Street in down-town New York. The Society also acquired at this time its first cemetery plot, so that those, who in life had been friends might forever be together. This baby, this organization was growing; dues were raised to six dollars per year; it was on its way.

There is no need to recall the struggles and vicissitudes that the membership underwent in these early formative years; for all the work and hardship was shouldered willingly and cheerfully.

A happy day came for the body when in the year 1925, the first son of a member was admitted to full membership in the Society. He was Jack Samuels, son of Founder Rubin Samuels. Since then many sons of members have passed through the induction ceremony and many more shall in the future, for it is only in the young that the Society can realize its wish to live on and on.

It seems silly to attempt to write the history of an organization in a thousand words. We know that the Society has grown to a membership of a hundred, that it has given aid to countless hundreds, that its treasury has prospered, that no brother or member of his family need ever fear for his burial ground, that medical aid and attention are waiting for him should he ever need them. These things are facts and they are the result of thirty years of hard work and sacrifice on the part of the brothers.

The real history of this organization can never be written down. We can write down that our meeting hall was changed, that we have two doctors instead of one. But, somehow, these things are not so important. It is the joy and tears that every brother carries around with him in his heart; the tender memories of a lifetime spent working with those who are closest to him; the untold cases where aid was given; these are the history of our Brotherhood, and these things can never be put down on paper adequately enough to tell the tale; these facts can only live in the minds of those who went through them. Our real and living history is our membership and our Society of Independent Belchatower Young Men.

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