Ida and Jacob Wiesenthal (1935)
In the heyday of the landsmanshaftn, it was not unusual for people to belong to more than one society or to join an organization when they were not from the same area as its other members. One reason for this was that family ties determined membership in the landsmanshaftn almost as often as did place of birth.
Most commonly, immigrant spouses were members of each otherís societies. Some of the non-landsleit members were so active that they chaired committees and even became officers of each otherís organizations. A case in point was Jacob Wiesenthal, a Galitzianer born in Skala, Austro-Hungary (now Ukraine) who was married to Ida Waxman-Einbinder Wiesenthal, a native of Kalarash. On the occasion of the 18th anniversary of the Kalarash landsmanshaftn, Jacob was chairman of the banquet's Arrangement Committee. His wife Ida not only was a member of his Skala landsmanshaftn, but served as President of the Skala Ladies Auxiliary.
In the 1930s and 1940s, as the founding-generation aged and the landsmanshaftn were in danger of ceasing to exist because of lack of membership, immigrant-parents drafted their American-born children and their childrenís spouses into the societies. Happy to have a full hall at their meetings and banquets, the parents were oblivious to the fact that their children typically were stupefied with boredom at these functions, because both the proceedings and the social conversations were conducted in a language (be it Yiddish, Hungarian, or whatever) that was entirely incomprehensible to the majority of them. In the mid-1940s, the arrival of Holocaust survivors rejuvenated many societies; but as the survivor-generation ages, the landsmanshaftn once again are fading.
In the Kalarash souvenir journal, banquet Arrangements Committee chairman Jacob Wiesenthal addressed the subject of non-landsleit members of the landsmanshaftn. In the Yiddish in which it originally was written, this was a rhyming poem. To see this poem in the original Yiddish, click here.
I am from another city, from another land.
If not for America, you would certainly not have known me.
I belong to the Society because of my wifeís family
and I wish you good luck, blessings, and success.
I always am ready for work for worthwhile causes
and if we must help someone, I will run to every corner of the earth.
The Kalarasher Society supports many institutions and feels their needs.
We take responsibility for them with the most beautiful honor and gratitude.
Our president Israel Kaminsky conducts the meetings with such talent
and you also, brothers, come to the meetings and give a helping hand.
From our minutes, you will know what is going on in our society
and I tell you sincerely that everything is carried through and could not be nicer.
Our minutes are written very well, we can be proud, this is my intent
and this is no one other than my and your friend Joseph Fishtein.
By todayís event, I thank a man who brought me to you, brothers,
and in truth this is no one else than your brother and my father-in-law Joseph Einbinder.
The only Galitzianer,
Credits: Text and page design copyrighted © 2007 by Helene Kenvin. Page created by Helene Kenvin. Translation from Yiddish of Jacob Wiesenthal's poem by Felice Gross. All rights reserved.