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First Beitcher Sick
Benevolent Society

New York City

(Written in 1966 - Reprinted 1998 by Marvin Klotz)
* * * * *
Early HistoryWorld War II and AftermathLater History

Early history[edit]

It's the last third of the nineteenth century - the 1870s & 1880s in the United States of America - the gates of immigration are opened widely - to those who would enter from European nations - from the old world to the new world - American industrial development was on the advance - flourishing - The oppression of Czarist Russia and the threats of inter-European wars - anti-Semitic - low level economic conditions prevailing - rights to higher educational opportunities restricted - constant pressures upon the peoples - the outlook bleak.

Among the peoples who made their way to America were our landsleit of Beitch in the then Austria - first the pioneering fathers to look things over in the land of "milk and honey" - then followed the wives and families - children - then in the 80s and 90s our people came in greater numbers - the greater part finding their way in the City of New York - on the Lower East Side. Yes, they all crossed the wide wide Atlantic - all the way - taking two to three weeks - and for the most part - steerage class - way, way, down close to the ship's hull - in crowded quarters too close for comfort.

And then into the old tenement houses - cold water flats - old sanitation conditions - "water closets" (toilets) in the hallways to accommodate six and eight families - privies in the yards below. The first order of necessity - finding employment - and right into the needle trade industry for the most part - yes, twelve hours a day - six days a week they toiled - and labored in the sweat shops of New York - some carrying their sewing machines on their backs all the way to the shops.

With their meager pay envelopes - they had to make ends meet - food, rent, clothing, gas, heat - savings to make it possible for their loves ones to come across - to join in, yes to save for a "schiff's carte" - more landsleit in the 1900s & 1920s - remaining loved ones awaiting the opportunity. And then a few went peddling with their push carts - a few opened grocery stores - some were gifted with special trade skills - not many - families grouped together in neighborhoods - like other areas and nations - they visited one another - shared experiences - enjoyed their Sabbaths together - Beitcher and Gorlicer - from all areas in Galicia - "old country" feelings of togetherness and kinships took hold with a spirit - words cannot describe - so many years ago.

All of course didn't go well on a number of fronts - many of the old residents did not give a friendly welcome to our people - not all of course - those were the bigoted elements - many just simple national chauvinists - very many plain anti-Semites - Skirmishes often took place - Jews with beards especially were harassed - especially on the Sabbath and Holidays - on their way to the Shuls - all this they encountered in a strange land - otherwise fruitful - joyful nevertheless.

As greater numbers of Jews came to America - the rise of Synagogues kept pace - giving a feeling of added strength to our people - a spirit which grew into the very fabric of Jewish life - among the people of our ever-growing metropolis of Manhattan - Came the year 1903 - a great fire - a conflagration was raging in our people's home town of Beitch - cries for help followed on an immediate scale came forth to our American Beitcher and landsleit of adjacent areas - indeed, an SOS of first magnitude - things had to be done.

A closely-knit committee got together - things had to be done - moneys had to be raised - from every source possible - family, landsleit friends - monies were dispatched without delay - answering their cries without hesitancy - they gladdened the hearts of their loves ones in Beitch - lifting their hopes - adding to their confidence in American Beitcher - Through these struggles our American Beitcher grew close together - bringing forward an impassioned cry - for the urgency - the need - for a creation of a Verein of Beitcher in America.

The purpose - to help each other in case of need - just as other existing landsmannschaften organizations - already existing - to cement themselves into one organized cohesive body - to socialize - to exchange experiences more fruitfully - to hear from their loved ones in Beitch - and learn from one another - to help one another in the dispatching of "schiff carten" - to those still abroad.

The over-all feeling of security in a strange land was beginning to stick - they were beginning to "feel at home" in a warmer manner - their sense of confidence took hold - then - the formation of the First Beitcher Sick Benevolent Society (Erste Kranken Unterstutzung Verein) - was formed - pm October 15, 1903 - in the City of New York - with the Statue of Liberty appropriately adopted - as the Beitcher Seal - symbolizing their first sight on arriving in the Manhattan Harbor - on their journey from Ellis Island through which all immigrants were cleared on entry.

And the Beitcher Society took on form - with the following Charter Members - Moishe Mendel Sturm -Shmiel Spanier - Dr. Leibish Spanier - Hersel Spanier - Avrahan Korzenik - Fishel Klotz - Yaacov Fuhrer - and other pioneers - all founders - too numerous for mentioning here - Many soon joined up - many of them dear friends - many from the vicinity of Beitch - They flourished in numbers - pride and confidence prevailed - the 1st President: Morris M. Sturm - the 1st Secretary: Barney Wachtel - the 2nd President: Michael Spielman - the 2nd Secretary: Moishe Klein - the 3rd Secretary: Michael Winter.

Then the purchase of Beitcher grounds at Mt. Zion to give security in death for its membership - and years passed - with a fluctuating membership roster - overall diminishing in numbers - as many landsleit moved out of the City - others for varied reasons - by 1926 Abrahan Korzenik was President - then Joseph Eichhorn in 1928 - came January 1933 - the Beitcher Society was saddened - the unexpected passing of its Secretary Michael Winter - after 26 years of devoted service - and a successor had to be found.

We then met on Clinton Street, Manhattan, at Clinton Hall - meetings were ill attended - just above a quorum for the most part - our members were at a low ebb the election of a Secretary was of first importance - this particular meeting was attended in much greater numbers - the 4th Secretary was elected - the son of a Charter Member was chosen - It was Isidore Klotz - a new day for the Beitcher entered - an English printed bulletin - a communication with a personalized ouch - items of interest - it took hold - a new spirit unfolded for the Beitcher - it gave new impetus - a flourishing mood prevailed - new ideas engendered - minutes were reported in English - better attendance took hold - and new members.

Then for the first time - on February 11th 1934 - Lincoln's Birthday Eve - a Beitcher Banquet - it was a grand success - it cemented the Beitcher into a strong feeling of solidarity - a Journal accompanied the function - adorned by the dedicated poem by our departed Pres. Eli Singer - "A Shtetele Beitch" - which touched the hearts of all - indeed a great dignified social event - the Beitcher Society was born anew - The President: Joseph Eichhorn - the V.P.: Samuel Klotz - the Chairman of Banquet: Samuel Dickstein - the Chairman of Journal: Elias Singer - Indeed, our 30th Anniversary Banquet at the Broadway Central was a function long to be remembered.

Our numbers grew from about 75 to 105 - that was 30 years ago - the numbers attending included landsleit - friends - Many have since been called to their final resting place - they are all in our hearts - We are blessed to have among us the blessed living.

1935 - Saul Unger is President - American born son of our Pioneer Beitcher, Pinie & Marie Unger - he is received warmly - he takes his post with pride - he initiates a vigorous term for the following two years - attendance at meetings rise appreciably - The English language is being spoken at meetings - younger members show up - new ones join - the Beitcher spirit climbs to new heights - In the meantime - the national depression grips the U.S.A. - across all frontiers - many members are affected for the most part - dues payments slow up - many in financial distress - the Beitcher Society comes to the aid of its members - relief to some - no member dropped due to inability to meet dues payments because of economic hardship.

In the meantime the rise of Hitler in Germany - with the increasingly menacing threat to our people abroad - as well as to all the world - The Sisterhood of the Beitcher Society is organized - its first President: Mary Unger - then the Beitcher Social League (a youth group) - the Sisterhood, a great aid in so many ways to the Beitcher Society - they prosper in membership - we prosper with them - shipments of Matzohs to Beitch an annual event - along with money aid dispatched - Elias Singer as Chairman - then 1938.

Samuel Klotz is chosen President of the Beitcher - a born Beitcher, the son of Charter Member Philip & Reisel Klotz - the prospering Beitcher move up another notch - closer and warmer contact with our Sisterhood prevails - the Beitcher Youth League, with Bro. Alexander Chananau its 1st President, move into action - then the membership is stimulated by the success of its first banquet - and another takes place - at Central Plaza on Second Avenue, on Thanksgiving Eve, November 34, 1938.

The cooperation of the Sisterhood in that undertaking cannot be measured in these few lines - a journal accompanied the event - the banquet attendance had risen since our previous affair - our membership roster has grown - our Society became known for its vitality - its forward look - its all-round interest in vital programs.

1937 - the Beitcher Society, to provide for a growing organization - purchases additional grounds at Beth David - the grounds are dedicated - special buses to provide transportation - our departed Saul Briskman takes on as an "auctioneer" in the raising of funds - it's a success - a fine response by those present - Rabbi Levinthal is engaged - films are in evidence for the occasion - a great day for an important obligation - in the meantime - Hitler's menacing threat to all the world - not forgetting the Jews of Germany - already in flight - and our people of Beitch - frightened.

1938 - Sam Dickstein, American born, husband of Leah, - the son of Hyman & Martha Dickstein - of the Dickstein-Spanier mishpuche - is chosen President - things move on socially - a boat ride to Roton Point Park - picnics - a 35th Beitcher Anniversary Banquet - takes place on Thanksgiving Eve - November 23rd at Central Plaza - a grand social event - a souvenir journal produced - 1941 - Charles Zimmerman, A Gorliczer, chosen President - husband of our departed Gussie - already proud of the membership of his 3 sons-in-law - card parties with the Sisterhood - other events - picnics at Isi Sturm's at Park Ridge, N.J. Beitcher aid to its people in Beitch continued - the Hitler war is more menacing.

World War II and aftermath[edit]

December 7, 1941 - Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor - War is declared by F.D.R. - By October many of our Brothers are serving - the Beitcher Society gets busy - calling for blood donors - all payments of dues of men in service are discontinued - Bulletins are forwarded to our dear Brothers in service - packages are dispatched - salami and other foods - listings of all men in service on 1st page of Bulletin - contacts kept up - letters received - Hitler's war becomes more menacing.

June 22, 1942 - The Soviet Union is attacked by Hitler - The USSR becomes an ally in the war against the Axis - Hitler drives on in his march toward to Stalingrad - Hitler's crack forces meet with defeat at Stalingrad - the outlook brightens - American forces drive forward - English and French forces too - 1943 - Isi Klotz takes leave - is chosen President - Sam Dickstein as Secretary - The Bulletin in Isi's hands - We continue in close cooperation with the Sisterhood - in domestic efforts - UJA in particular.

1945 - Louis Bernstein chosen President - American born, husband of Anne, not a Beitcher - a devoted member - friend of the Zimmerman family - an attorney - conducts his post with a new touch - warm personality - then: the sudden tragic news of the massacre of our people in Hitler's gas chambers - explosive, horror-stricken news to the world - then thoughts of those who may have escaped the gas chambers - of all who might be living.

All the membership was alerted - to this frightening news - then the reports - slowly - of those who perished - those few indeed - who are alive - letters started coming through - cries for instant help - on an SOS basis - for aid from the Beitcher - from anyone - Pres. Louis Bernstein without loss of time - appoints Sam Klotz to take up the post - Overseas Chairman - full charge of planning - aid to our needy people - in their tragic saddened plight - in every part of Europe and the Western USSR - He gets busy - we get stirred into motion - his first move - his contribution of pishkes - to be distributed by mail into our homes - a start is made - but the pace must pick up.

The pishkes are dispatched - an Overseas Distress Tax was unanimously passed by all members - both approaches to accumulate members monies - but hardly sufficient to meet the requirements of giving succor - for food ad clothing - in the mean time letters coming in by the hundreds for aid - to Sam - already they have been contacted - informed of the Beitcher efforts - every letter is replied to - answered - giving each and every survivor - hope, hope.

Sam gets busy without end - the call for money - for clothes - went out with increased vigor - the Bulletin is put to great use - Bro. Ex-Pres. Harry B. Lind put his business loft at the disposal of the program - for storing up clothes coming in by hand - by parcel post - also for the storing of food - the packaging of parcels becomes effective - a number of steady Brothers offer their aid - they show up - Sundays, all day - tying parcels - delivery to the post offices.

Then the cry for a Beitcher Banquet on Thanksgiving Eve, November 26, 1946 - at Broadway Central Hotel - the proceeds - all for our Overseas Rehabilitation Program - a Journal to be published - to raise $5,000.00 - Members, landsleit, friends, came across - another great event for the Beitcher - this time, social and tzedgkah - a financial triumph for the Beitcher - moneys were on hand to carry on - Sunday after Sunday - packaging, packaging - time given to aid those in distress - and the Sisterhood's good work not to be forgotten in this effort of 1946.

Another member came to our assistance in the storing of clothes. Ex-Pres. Charles Zimmerman at his establishment - and there too energies were put to use. In the meantime - Overseas Chairman Sam had "paper work" in preparing listings for shipments from time to time - the kind of clothes to ship in each case - not easy - and most time consuming - but a most worthy effort.

Not simple to put into words - Sam's efforts - the raising of monies - climbing of stairs - phone calls - cries for bundles - for cooperation - later for affidavits - raffle books - The choice of Sam by President Bernstein was indeed a great choice.

Then 1947 - Harry B. Lind is chosen President - a born Beitcher - cries for bundles continue - more funds - the Sisterhood keeps assisting with hundreds of dollars.

1948 - Elias Singer is chosen President - a native of Beitch - survivors beginning to arrive in our country - all greeted by the Beitcher - they attend our meetings - they tell their stories - tears aplenty - all eager to listen to the anguished voices of their loved ones.

1949 - More survivor landsleit arrive - they are warmly received - the Beitcher Society reduces the initiation fee for them to a low-low figure - they begin to join up - many arrive in Israel as their land of adoption - those arriving here have found places of employment - not always easily and often in frustration - they become integrated into the American pattern of life - they learn their way around - their residences stable their children growing up - some reaching the colleges.

1950 - Simon Weintraub, a native of Beitch, husband of Kate, is chosen President upon the passing of our dear Elias Singer on February 5th - Beitcher assistance to domestic charitable and worthy institutions is continued through its membership tax - our September memorial services to our dear ones - who perished under Hitlerism is a yearly observance - in the month of Elul the 4th - 1953 - Plans are made for the celebration of our 50th Anniversary a Banquet - to be held Thanksgiving Eve, November 25th and in honor of our Overseas Chairman Sam Klotz - accompanied by a souvenir journal - the proceeds for continued overseas aid - with Israel concentration - a great attendance - a great event - financial and social success - with a message from our Israeli landsleit for our journal.

The Sisterhoods cooperation in this endeavor again exemplified the worthiness of their grand dedication - On April 13 1953 - just before our event - President Weintraub passed away suddenly - Sam took over the reins in the emergency as President - In June of 1955 Sam sails for Israel as a "sheliach" from the Beitcher Society - picnics to Isi Sturm's resort in Park Ridge continued - boat rides too.

The Beitcher launch an Israel Bond Drive - with Sam taking over the Chairmanship - the members respond - friends too - a worthy cause for the State of Israel - and for Jews generally.

Later history[edit]

1957 - Lou Berbstein is again President of the Beitcher Society - drafted as it were - carried on in his usually warm manner - capable in attracting better attendances.

1958 - Milton Margulies, American born, son of a native of Beitch - Abraham, & our departed Yetta Margulies - is chosen President - during which year the launching of our Gemilath Chesed (Free Loan) Fund for Israel was put into force.

1959 - Abraham Banner, Attorney - American born, son of Max & Rose Banner takes office as President of the Beitcher - on September 13th, Sam sails for Israel - establishes the Beitcher Israeli Gemilath Chesed Fund - is once again received royally by our people - returns February 14, 1960 - 1961 - Milton Maurer, Attorney, American born, son of a native Beitcher, our departed William and Fanny Maurer is chosen President - and another Beitcher Banquet is voted - for Thanksgiving Eve, November 22, 1961 - in conjunction with a journal - proceeds for Israel Projects Fund and a Testimonial to Secretary Isi Klotz.

Our Beitcher meetings are invigorated with Milton's leadership - as the son of a Beitcher - the Banquet goes off with tremendous social success - along with Milton's Chairmanship at the Banquet - with our usual M.C. Lou Bernstein - the proceeeds also successful - another event with a feather in the hat for the Beitcher Society - with many Beitcher friends attending - from near and far.

April 4th, 1962 - Sam again departs for Israel - as a seliach of the Beitcher Society in America - he is received royally - arrives back in December - The establishment of the Beitcher Welfare Fund was put into force during Milton Maurer's term of offfice - offering those of our members with 50 years membership - relief from payment of dues, as long as the Fund is enriched to cover the replacement of such payments to the Society's treasury.

Came 1963 - Milton Maurer wishes to bow out and make room for another to be honored at the post of the Presidency - However - Bro Maurer's usefulness at the post was too highly regarded - it was considered a must to have him continue for two more years - and though Milton has not looked forward to serving for two terms - it was so decided by the members - and so, Milton warmly acceded to the wishes of the members to serve.

Plans for another Banquet - for 1963 - on Thanksgiving Eve, November 27th at Broadway Central was voted - a journal to be published - the proceeds to our Membership Welfare Fund - and the honors - to our last remaining Charter Member - Abraham Korzenik - along with tributes to our organizing pioneers - making our 60th Anniversary - a grand success - a grand turn out - a grand function - grand proceeds - a grand journal - culminating in a most successful ever of all our previous endeavors - in the meantime our Israel Bonds Campaigns continue on with cooperation from members and friends - not to firget contributions to Welfare Fund from members and friends on a voluntary basis.

Interlude - Special mention must be made here of our Treasurer Abraham Weingast - American born, married to his lovely wife Netty, whose parents came from Gorlice - who held the post of Financial Secretary for 20 years - from 1939 to 1959 inclusive - 20 years of fruitful and devoted service to the Society during considerable activities through those years.

1965 - Bro. Irving Zibitt, a native of Biecz, son of our departed Elias - son of Sister Rachel Zibitt - is chosen as President of the Beitcher Society - prodded? - yes indeed - for he is a busy man - but in true Beitcher spirit - he follows his predecessor Milton Maurer - who too is a busy man at his Law Office. April 1965 - Sam is to take off for Israel - Pres. Zibitt's Youth Group of the Oakland Jewish Center is present at that meeting before his departure - in a program of song, music, dancing - and on his homecoming in November - Bro. Milton Maurer offers a very special spread in his honor - and as host - and a great feast it was - and with another special programming by President Zibitt.

All this and more in 1965 - with Pres. Zibitt at the helm - and it all happened while Irving & Helen were down in Miami Beach vacationing - when Irving returned a telegram of surprise in accepting the nomination - and to our great credit for our special efforts - and so upon being installed - Irving outlined a specific program for the Society - and the feast which followed was one to be remembered - Irving & Helen were our gracious hosts - and it was the occasion of their 25th Anniversary with the Beitcher.

Did our President carry forward his program? Indeed with every effort - Mother's & Father's day programs - impressive Memorial Services - Passover dedications - Channukah festival services - Purim programs - guest speaker programs - card party programs - narrative programs - musical programs - dance programs by the Bayside Oakland Jewish Center's Youth - outing efforts - dedicated Holiday addresses - host to Beitcher Society Committees at his office - in his usual inimitable manner - special birthday cakes on two occasions - and now: scholarships - gifts to first-born of members - and more, yes more - membership drives.

All this by Pres. Zibitt - and now our 64th Anniversary next year all this by our President who was timid about succeeding our Attorney President Maurer - all accomplished with pleasure - and too - the Beitcher Society Narrative - inspired by Irving Zibitt - our President - whose request was happily carried out - by your Secretary - who salutes the President for introducing such a challenging story - not entirely fulfilled - With Irving Zibitt's continued leadership - our Beitcher Society's future remains most promising.

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