31 December 2015

Treasure Chest Thursday: Julius Reitman's English essay, FLPBA 40th anniversary publication

This wonderful essay penned by Julius Reitman summarizes some of the accomplishments of the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association during its first 40 years. While genealogists tend to think of landsmanshaft organizations as responsive to the welfare and needs of their members - including acquisition of burial plots - Julius hardly mentions those activities. For him, the crowning FLPBA achievements are those directed at the welfare of those left behind in the old country - in the home community of Lubin and in surrounding communities. Impressive accomplishments, indeed! And completely in line with the Jewish concept of tsedaka: the obligation to do what is right and just.

[I have transcribed and annotated the essay, below.]  

     I regret that I cannot in detail speak of every action of the First Lubiner through all the years of our existence.[1] However, there should and indeed must be mentioned the glorious relief chapter of the first world war in which we played our full part.

     I am sure everyone will recall how eagerly our organization participated in the relief work that American Jewry undertook then under the leadership of the Joint Distribution Committee as well as the People's Relief Committee.[2] Every one of us not only donated individually, but also worked tediously in order to enable others to do their bit for our brothers and sisters overseas who depended so greatly on the outcome of our work.[3] And our help at that time was not given to Lubiner Landsleit alone, but to Landsleit of the entire Lubiner surroundings.

     It is also perhaps worthwhile to speak of that little but very important chapter, of our efforts to bring over here the rabbi of Lubin and to support him until he was in a position to earn his livelihood.[4] Permit me to say to those who might think this too little to be mentioned here, that our entire life is only a continuous flow of little things, and if we overlook these little things, we overlook the very life of people. For that reason our sages and elders of past generations taught us that anyone who helps to save one life has in fact helped to save the whole world, for every human life is a world in itself. 

     Also I believe it worthwhile to pay a little attention to the activities of the First Lubiner of today as well as of the last few years.

     Our organization, as you know, is helping and participating in the relief work through substantial donations to the United Jewish Appeal, to HIAS,  to Histadruth and to many other large and small organizations. At the same time, while we are doing our duty to the national organizations, we never forget and never overlook our responsibilities to bring relief and succor directly to our sister and brothers of Lubin and vicinity. These very few survivors of our people there, need so desperately our attention and out help in order to enable them to start their shattered lives once again.

     I am sure that you are aware of the many relief packages that we sent to our brothers and sisters in the concentration camps as well as to those who survive in many towns and cities of the Soviet Union.

     In conclusion, let me state that by mentioning all these activities I had no intention of patting myself or the members of the First Lubiner on the shoulder for what we did. Rather by mentioning our past activities I wanted to help all of us to remember that such relief work was and still is the moral justification for our existence as a Jewish Landsmannshaft. 

     In the activities of rebuilding the lives of our brethren in all lands as well as in Israel, the land where so many of them found a home, is justification as well as strength and courage for us to continue the work that is so imperative in our times. It is in the name of these activities that I would like to express our hope that we, all of us, will live to celebrate our 50th anniversary 10 years hence, at a time which, we hope, will be the time of real peace and security for our people and the entire world.

1. The First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association began in 1911 in Manhattan. Julius Reitman immigrated to the United States in 1921. Manifest, S.S. Kroonland, arrived 9 August 1921, stamped p. 119, line 11, Zyna Chajtman, age 23; images, "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 December 2010).
2. For further discussion of the work that the FLPBA funded via the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee see my blog post here. For discussion of the relationship between the Joint and the People's Relief Committee, a Socialist organization, see this link. Records of the People's Relief Committee are archived at the Center for Jewish History in NYC.
3. It appears that there was an arm of the FLPBA, called Lubin Relief, that oversaw the landsmanshaft's fiscal participation in relief activities. I have located a letter in the online JDC archive to my great great uncle, Myer Myers, regarding Lubin relief work. The letter may be found on this page at: "Letter from I.M. Naishtut to Mr. M. Myers," item ID 356440. 
4. This was Rabbi Yoer Lerner, his wife Rebecca and his son Szyza (who became Sam Lerner in the USA). They arrived in New York on the S.S. Cedric on 11 March 1924. Manifest, S.S. Cedric, arrived 11 March 1924, Fre Lerner and Rebeka Lerner (stamped list 7, lines 2 & 3) and Szyza Lerner (stamped list 5, line 5); images, "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 September 2014). 


  1. I wonder under whose auspices my grandfather Louis Myers and his son (my father) went to Labun and other local towns to distribute some funds. I don't know if it was a branch of the Lubiner assoc. per se as they went to several towns.

    1. That did cross my mind, as well, as I was writing this post. Julius does say that their projects benefited other communities near Lubin, as well. So, perhaps several landsmanshaftn joined together to sponsor Louis' trip. I seem to recall seeing something about a Staro-Konstyantiniv landsmanshaft providing help overseas. I'll have to see if I can relocate that.


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