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This site is created as a way to further research and publication of materials on the history of Lyakhovichi.If you have been aided in your research and wish to contribute materials and resources to further our knowledge, contact Gary Palgon and ask how you can help.

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Emigrant Relief Associations of Lyakhovichi
by Deborah Glassman
copyright 2008

This is a page in our Documents section. Click the button labeled "Documents" in the left-hand column to reach all of the other resources of the Document area.

In September 2008, I was trying to ready the material that would be published at the Thanksgiving 2008 update for the entire Lyakhovichi website, when I made a new discovery that promptly upset the schedule. I found documentation related to two NYC Lechovicher organizations which stepped up to the need of distressed Lechovichers in the hometown following World War I.

Lechovichers in the US had been receiving frantic letters: their families were starving; local currency was worthless; people were crammed with all of their relatives into buildings whose walls were barely standing. Paper over the windows was keeping the winter cold out, and small bundles of kindling were going for outrageous sums in the winter of 1919-1920. Families in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Manhattan, all separately documented that the funds they had sent their relatives who had made their way home after the war, had not arrived, and a solution other than sending more money was needed.

The sizable Lechovicher community in Manhattan and Brooklyn was getting frantic with concern and they decided that the only thing that made sense was to send a representative who had a clear head, a good business sense, and an ability to get things done, to physically go to Lyakhovichi carrying funds on his person. In April of 1920 two Lechovicher organizations in New York City agreed on a single person to represent them. The very competent, successful businessman, Barnet Brody, was chosen. He applied for his passport and it is the documentation that accompanied that passport that provides our window on this period after World War I and during the crises created around the Polish-Russian War.

Authorization Letter
Click on letter to expand and hover cursor on lower corner of new page to expand further.

The Lechowitzer Relief is called in its Yiddish seal the Lechowitzer United Relief and the congregation of Bnai Isaac Anshe Lechowitz refers to itself in this document as a Chevra (a Society) but the officials of both groups have long been active in the Bnai Isaac Anshe Lechowitz synagogue and association. The relief organizations officers are president Sam Loss and secretary Wolf Levy. The congregations's president is given as Wolf Levy and secretary Fishel Surowitz. We know that Wolf Levy had been an officer of the shul in multiple years since 1900 including president. Fishel Surowitz was listed as the rabbi and sexton of the synagogue in the WPA assessment of the synagogue records in the 1930s. Barnett Brody himself, was reported as the president of the synagogue in the American Jewish Yearboook 1919-1920. See our page Emigrant Associations of Lyakhovichi for more details and images from these sources

We do not yet know what groups the Lechovicher United Relief brought together. The religious community that gathered around Bnai Isaac Anshe Lechowitz Synagogue and the workingman's groups like the Arbeiter Ring's Baranovicher-Lechowitzer Branch 260? Members of the community who bought their burial insurance from lodges of Brith Abraham, the labor unions, and the debating societies? Perhaps the traditionally observant community and some from varying strains of Chassidus? This was not the first time the Bnai Isaac Anshe Lechowitz community had provided relief services. Our page Emigrant Associations of Lyakhovichi shows contributions to anti-pogrom collections in 1905. But that was more of a show of solidarity with the Jews of the homeland rather than the hometown. Pogroms did not come to Lyakhovichi in 1905. But this time, for whatever reason, the synagogue Bnai Isaac Anshe Lechowitz's identity was too confining for this particular set of collections and contributions and the Lechovicher United Relief was formed.

See our page Visual Archives of Lyakhovichi for letters from Lechovichers translated into English to make the case for Barnett Brody's urgent need to travel to Lyakhovichi. The letters came from or describe members of families surnamed Slonimsky, Barshov, Abramowitz, Rozofsky, Kaplan, Klatzkin, Berlin, others.

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Barnet Brody
representative of the United Lechowitzer Relief in April 1920