(New York, 1935)
In greater New York, there are many societies that were created in the last 50 years since the flow of Jewish immigrants carried our brothers from every corner of the world to American shores. These wanderers who left their homes fell into the big American melting pot. They felt lost, without kinsmen or friends. They had little idea how to find their way amidst the unknown. To find a familiar environment, it was necessary for them to create kinsmen societies for which there were two purposes: one spiritual or intellectual and the second to support those who were under financial pressure. The story of these societies follows the general story of the Jews in America. And the material is very important for future historians. I, therefore, have undertaken with joy the work of writing down a short history of our society for the present joyous occasion.
In 1916, the newspapers mentioned that a fire had occurred in our town of Kalarash. At that time, two kinsmen came to me (their names are worthy of mention: brothers Benjamin Schechter and Nachum Tzigelnik, may they rest in peace) to develop a plan to help the Kalarashers who had lost everything in the fire. At that time, we came to no conclusion because we did not want to take on the responsibility alone. It was decided that each of us would call upon as many kinsmen as possible to tell them of the situation and also to see about establishing some sort of society. At the next meeting that took place at my house (123 Rivington Street, Sunday 10/22/1916), the foundation of the society was established. At this meeting were present the following kinsmen: brothers Benjamin Schechter, Nachum Tzigelnik, and Alter Reznikov (may they rest in peace) and brothers Israel Kaminsky, Berl Abramowitz, Morris Goldstein, Joel Rosenblatt, Joseph Fishtein, Izzie Waxman, Joseph Rabinowitz, Moshe Beckerman (they should live a long time) and more brothers that I cannot recall. It was decided that the society should have the name Kalarasher Bessarabian Progressive Association. At this time, it was asked that I be given the honor of being the first president of the Society.
Today we celebrate our joy. It was on December 30, 1916 that we began to meet in a hall at 119 Rivington Street; that we brought together the brothers and kinsmen; and that we took out a legal charter for our society. I will never forget that evening. While it was a great success in a moral and financial way, we already had begun with our work in a progressive way. Our needed help was provided very quickly and we constantly strived to achieve our goal that it should be a very progressive society. But I do not want to take time to recall all that our society has done in the past 18 years. I believe that the brothers know how great everyone’s happiness is that today, at our joyous occasion, we have pride and happiness in our hearts, with 80 to 90 families and many relations. Be happy, my brothers and sisters, and everyone dance a friendly dance in honor of the joy of the Kalarasher Society. Now I can thank God that in my older years I do not have to work so much for the society. There is someone to leave it to: our good and honest and well-known members who watch after it with their “eyes in their head.” I hope to live long enough to celebrate with you the 25th jubilee of the society.
To see this story in the original Yiddish, click here for the first page of the story and click here for the second page.
Credits: Photo and page design copyrighted © 2007 by Helene Kenvin. Translation from Yiddish by Sheldon Clare. Page created by Helene Kenvin. All rights reserved.