Activity of the New York Buczacz Jewish Welfare Society

Avraham Zommern, Translated by Jessica Cohen

In the annals of the Landsmannschaften in America, which shall be written in the future, the United Butzatzer Ladies Auxiliary will occupy one of the most respectable chapters. It is a history of hard work and tireless efforts, of self awakening for the benefit of the injured and the oppressed, who, in their moments of desperation, turned to us – their brothers and sisters overseas.

In 1934, when the fascist Polish government was increasing its economic pressure on the Jewish people, letters came from our hometown, filled with tears and sadness, describing the distress and poverty which had befallen a large part of the Jewish population. The cry of pain from our afflicted brothers did not fall on deaf ears. Upset by the terrible news, a small group of people gathered on a cold winter day in January of 1935. These were simple and innocent men and women, with hearts of gold, who gathered in order to establish a welfare organization for the benefit of our hometown and the suffering people of Buczacz. And thus, on January 20, 1935, the “United Butzatzer Ladies Auxiliary” was established.

It would be unjust if we did not mention the names of the people who founded the organization, as many of them devoted hard work and extraordinary efforts in order to help their townspeople.

Honorable mention must be given to Abush Anderman, a tireless activist and one of the founding members. His intelligence and agreeable nature affected many people and were a source of inspiration for our continued, dedicated work. He is sorely missed by us and we shall never forget him. Among the other founders who have passed away, we should mention the following: Ms. Dara Boyer, Ms. Anna Pek, Max Zilberbush, Anna Nachtigel, Anna Adler, Leon Rosenblatt, Moshe Stein, Yetti Stein and Sam (Shmuel) Schwartz, who passed away recently. The annals of the Society are a long succession of wonderful accomplishments and noble acts, of sacrifice and fraternity. The heart-breaking letters of the activists and the community representatives from that time (Mendel Reich and Pinchas Wienstock) were a decisive influence on us and the touching and intelligent words fell on fertile ground.

The initiator and primary founder is Leibaleh Farber, a man with a kind disposition and liked by all. But the other organizers are also worthy of commendation for their extensive and plentiful work. And these are their names: Moshe and Dara Boyer, Lewis and Anna Pek, Morris and Anna Adler, Bernard and Sloe Gotforcht, Sam and Fannie Kopfler, Yisrael and Hinda Shere, Max and Tzili Silberbusch, Paul and Clara Silbersein, Louis and Reda Rosenblatt, Louis Gotfried, Avraham and Reda Zomer, Abush and Jenny Anderman, Louis and Lena Duchovny, Moshe and Anna Stein, Anna Nachtigel, Izzi and Tilli Wieldman, Sam and Esther Schwartz, Millie and Bessie Wassner, Reda Sneider, Alter and Ethel Farber, Meir Klienfeld. However, not only the founders and organizers fulfilled their duties, but also all the members and many of our townspeople assisted us, out of enthusiasm, and contributed greatly during the thirties – until the Second World War broke out – in order to alleviate the distress and poverty of our brothers in Buczacz. Among the significant contributors of our organization, we should mention Philip Silbersein and Yisrael Neiman, the son of Avraham Yona Neiman.

The activity of the “Auxiliary” can be divided into three periods. The first period begins in 1935 and ends with war breaking out in 1939. The purpose of our activity during that period was twofold: in order to awaken the spirit and prevent desperation, we would support a few individuals financially, according to the instructions of the community, which was also doing as much as it could to alleviate the distress. However, we did not ignore the important Jewish institutions, which were destined to deteriorate without our assistance. We assisted the following institutions: the orphanage, managed by Paula Marngel and Yosef Kornbly; the hospital, directed by Monish Frankel and Arthur Bik; the Talmud Torah, directed by Haim Kofler and Mendel Reich; the Gmilat Hessed Society, managed by Monish Frankel, Dr. Yeshayahu Hecht, Pinchas Wienstock and Yakov Margaliyot.

The second period continues throughout the Second World War, from 1939 until 1945. During this period, our contact with Buczacz was cut off, although our activity did not cease. In a nervous condition and with beating hearts, we awaited the moment of renewal of our contact with our dear brothers. Horrifying news spread of pogroms and mass murder of the Jewish people in Poland, but we hoped that the accounts were exaggerated and that the cultural world would not allow the annihilation of an entire innocent people. How innocent was our faith!

In fact our work during the war was more intensive, we collected money and waited impatiently for the moment when the world would once again be open and we could assist our brothers and heal their wounds. At that time, our organization fulfilled its patriotic obligation in our country's war against the Nazi enemy by contributing to the “Red Cross” and other national institutions. And of course we donated significant sums to support our Jewish-National institutes (such as the Joint, United Jewish Appeal and HIAS [Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society], Jewish National Fund, Ort, etc.).

The third period begins with the end of the Second World War. This was the most intensive period of action in the history of our organization, which expresses the noble character and sensitive heart of Buczacz Jews. Unfortunately, the dreadful news of the war was confirmed, and to our horror we learned that only a small handful had been saved of our large and famous Jewish community. Some 65 survived in Buczacz itself, and almost 400 who had escaped into Russia. In 1946-7 a large portion of the survivors moved to Germany, hoping to leave soon and go to America and to Eretz Yisrael. And the situation in the temporary camps on the cursed German land, was unbearable. And again, the Auxiliary began to receive sorrowful letters, full of despair, and the organization gave help and awakened hope. With great energy and extraordinary efforts, the women and men of the organizations began the welfare activities. They searched for relatives, sent clothes for the unclothed and food parcels for the hungry. During the six years following the war, our organization spent more than 20,000 dollars, an amount which can be considered huge for a small organization. By means of the great assistance we also offered spiritual aid to the misfortunate people, who had been brought to the abyss of desperation by the horrors of the war. The outstretched helping hand enabled them to get through the crisis period which followed the war, with hope for a better future.


On April 5, 1955 we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the “Auxiliary” – twenty years of hard work by an organization small in numbers, but large in spirit. Unfortunately, many of our good people are not with us anymore, and their parting left an empty space within us. The number of active members has decreased in recent years. There has also been a decrease of interest among American Jewry in philanthropic activity, after the large surge immediately following the war. Many of these kinds of organizations have been completely dismantled, recognizing that they have fulfilled their function. However we still exist, and despite the shrinking number of members, we continue our hard work. Our activity is now devoted, primarily, to assisting with the building of the State of Israel, the land of our dreams and the country of our national future.

The annals of our “Auxiliary” would not be complete if we did not mention the names of our members who still fulfill their human obligation loyally, despite their old age and personal difficulties. Our spiritual leader is Rabbi Yisrael Schor, who is well-known among the Jews of New York. He is always prepared to heed our call, at times of trouble and at times of happiness. His appearances at our various gatherings add honor and benefit.

I would be honored to mention the members who, after 20 years of difficult activity, have not lost their spirit and are ready and willing, to the best of their ability, to continue the noble work in support of the injured and the poor. And these are their names: Leibeleh and Zaide Farber, Alter and Ethel Farber, Louis and Jenny Esienstadt (Anderman), Louis and Lena Duchovny, Bernard and Sally Gutfrocht, Yisrael and Hinda Schor, Louis Gottfried, Meir Kleinfeld, Avraham and Reda Zomer, Reda Sneider, Lola Peler, Dora Kirschner, Esther Schwartz, Morris Potshter, Sloe Kilreik and Regina Galbreit.

And last but not least: the finest and most dedicated among the workers are Zalman Neiman and his wife Dara, who are beloved to all the former residents of Buczacz in New York. Neiman is a true Buczaczer Jew. His strong personality influences all who meet him, and we view him as the second spiritual leader of the Buczacz organizations, after Rabbi Schor. We are proud of him, and he and his wife deserve to be engraved in gilded letters in the annals of the “Auxiliary.”

Here ends the short history of our welfare organization – the history of fearless and tireless work performed by a few people, for the common good. It was not for their own honor that our people gave their time, their energy, their strength and their money. The painful cry of brothers and sisters overseas was the only motive which moved them to act in such a way that might heal, if only partially, our brothers' wounds.

The history of this small society revealed the solidarity and mutual responsibility, which are the defining characteristics of our people.

Avraham Zommer