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Tuesday
Nov082016

The Russians Are Coming

The Frierdiker Rebbe’s Phone Call to the Chairman of the JDC * The Rashag’s efforts in securing funds for the 800 Chabad Chassidim who escaped Russia and were en-route to Poland * “Sometimes they have extra special expenses, such as they had last week in connection with the arresting of a group of 38 people” * Also: The list of the Chabad Chassidim who left Russia which lists Rebbetzin Chana, and her “Emigrant Card” * Third Installment

 

In the previous installments we presented the efforts of the Frierdiker Rebbe and his son-in-law the Rebbe in helping the Jewish refugees of World War II who were strewn across Europe in various Displaced Persons (DP) Camps. The work focused on providing Jewish literature, ensuring the people have access to Kosher food and the children have access to Jewish Education.

Towards the end of 5706 (1946), the refugee work took on another dimension. Thousands of Chabad Chassidim managed to escape Russia with Polish passports, and settled with the rest of the Jewish war refugees in DP Camps. The Frierdiker Rebbe, with the help of his son-in-law the Rashag, began to work on resettling them in a new country, and providing for them with means to support themselves and their families.

One of the people who managed to escape was Rabbi Binyamin Eliyahu Gorodetzky, who was instrumental in helping the Chabad Chassidim escape Russia. In the beginning of 5707 he was appointed by the Frierdiker Rebbe to spearhead the efforts to help the refugees, both the physical aspect of resettling the Chabad Chassidim in France and Israel, and the spiritual work with the general population.

With this third installment we begin the story of the Chabad refugees from Russia. These fascinating documents are part of the JDC Archives (which were digitized and uploaded online, thanks to a grant from Dr. Georgette Bennett and Dr. Leonard Polonsky CBE).

800 Chassidim Are Coming

On October 23, 1946 [28 Tishrei 5707], the Rashag, Rabbi Shmaryahu Gourary, writes a letter to Mr. Joseph Hyman, the Vice Chairman of the JDC:

Dear Mr. Hyman:

According to information I have received, our group in Warsaw, Poland, receive very little assistance, almost next to nothing, from the Joint.

Today I received an alarming cable from Prague, Czechoslovakia, that additional 800 persons are coming to Poland. Aid on a large scale is badly needed for them.

I beg you kindly to cable to your overseas office about giving substantial aid to these 800 persons, and to our group at large.

Awaiting your prompt attention in this matter, I remain,

Very sincerely yours,

Rabbi S.  Gourary

 

To this letter was attached the copy of the cable from the Chabad Chassidim in Prague:

Rabbi Schneerson, 770 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn NY

We spoke to Yitzchok Goldin. 32 people arrived. There are 800 [still] there. Three [hundred] have ‘Kesubos’ [=papers] and five [hundred] don’t. We need immediately 10,000 ‘Shkolim’ [=Dollars] to save them. Please notify us immediately, and also notify Goldin, Kalmanson [and] Pewzner.

A Phone Call From The Frierdiker Rebbe

The next day, October 24 1946 [29 Tishrei 5707], Dr. Bernard Kahn, honorable Chairman of the JDC, received a phone call from the Frierdiker Rebbe, who personally discussed with him the matter of these 800 refugees. This was described in a short “Memorandum” written by Dr. Kahn on that day:

Memorandum

I had a telephone call from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who told me the following:

Eight hundred people of his group, that means either Chassidic families or Yeshivah people of the Lubavitcher Yeshivah type, returned about two days ago from Russia to Warsaw and are in great need.

It is requested that the JDC cable to Dr. Schwartz or to the office in Poland directly asking that help be extended to these people.

Please inform me whether such a cable can be sent.

 

The Rashag was also on the phone, and on the same day he sent a letter to Dr. Kahn, reiterating what was discussed at this phone call, and providing some more details:

Dear Mr. Kahn:

As per our telephone conversation today, during which I related to you about the cable we have received from Warsaw, I wish to clarify in more detail what it is all about.

A group of 800 persons of religious Jews, among them students of our Yeshivoth and other laymen, who are all known to us personally, are due to arrive in Poland.

According to the cable they are in immediate need of at least $10,000.-

I beg from you to please cable to your office overseas, to come to the rescue of this above mentioned unfortunate group as soon as possible.

I thank you in advance for your generosity, and remain, with sincere thanks and all good wishes,

Very sincerely yours,

Rabbi S. Gourary

 

A day later, on October 25 1946 [1st day of Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan 5707] Dr. Kahn sent an internal “memorandum” to Mrs. Henrietta Buchman in which he describes why an immediate reply is needed:

Memorandum

Subject: Lubavitcher Group in Warsaw

My secretary informed me about the conversation she had with you on the matter, which is the object of the attached letter from Rabbi S. Gourary.

I personally have no recommendations to make. As I was approached directly by the Lubavitcher Rebbe and, in addition, by Rabbi Gourary, who considered it a very urgent matter, I only wanted the office to give an immediate reply…

 

From Hundreds to Thousands

The JDC agreed to help the Chabad Chassidim escaping Russia, and they sent money to help the Chassidim survive. Over the next few months, the number of refugees which arrived and those who were in transit swelled to over 2,000, as detailed in the following letter sent by Mr. William Bein (JDC-Warsaw) to Dr. Joseph Schwartz, the head of European Operations of the JDC, on January 14 1947 [22 Teves 5707]:

This is to follow up my letter #4 concerning the Lubavitcher. Since inception up today there arrived in Poland 1,233 persons, with the first lot around May 435. You will remember that we granted them a monthly subvention of Zl. 200,000. With my letter #4 I notified you that about 700 persons are in Lemberg whose arrival was expected daily. We agreed with Mr. Gurewicz that JDC will allow about 2,000 zl. for every person to cover emergency expenses, maintenance and transportation while in transit in Poland and the following groups arrived since: 36, 59, 100, 320, making totally 524. For these we placed at their disposal $1,400. Now arrived another 141 and 123 that makes 264. Summarizing all the persons arrived up to-day we come to a total of 1,223 souls.

For the latter group of 264 we allowed $600. Of course the Lubavitcher claim that our allowance is not sufficient. This however, we consider fair as an average, although sometimes they have extra special expenses, such as they had last week in connection with the arresting of a group of 38 people. We issued some clothing to the Lubavitcher and will have to continue to do so as the people arrive literally in rags.

Now I am told that additional 386 persons are assembled in Lemberg and their arrival is expected soon. I am also told that many of the Religious in Russia learned that there is a possibility to be repatriated via Krakow - Nachod and the number of those who came to Lemberg for the purpose to continue their way is swelling daily. I am informed that with exception of the last 100 most people left already Poland. It is merely a question of money. If they would have funds, many would come.

I merely want to have your opinion on the matter and also your authorization to continue our contribution at the present rate or somewhat higher, let us say, 2,500 zl. for each person.

With best regards,

Yours truly,

William Bein

 

The List of Chabad Chassidim in Poland

Attached to Mr. Bein’s letter was the list of the first group of 435 Chabad Chassidim in Poland. The list was compiled in Hebrew by one of the members of “Igud Chabad” in Poland, and translated to English for the JDC office. After each name is the number of people in the family, in parentheses. Among the names one finds Rebbetzin Chana Schneerson, the mother of the Rebbe:

Yaakov Lipsker (7)

Alexander Menkin (5)

Chaim Schmuklerman (2)

Leib Lipsker (11)

Chaim Chaikin (5)

Eli Shmuel Kahanov (2)

Moshe Neimark (7)

Zushe Dvoretz (4)

Charne Zabine (3)

Shmuel Lyuboshitzky (2)

Michoel Piekarsky (4)

Moshe Puretz (6)

Shimon Pantzik (3)

Avraham Yitzchok Korenblit (2)

Shmuel Wasserman (3)

Reuven Dov Naparstek (4)

Moshe Beitsch (2)

Nachman Kronenberg (2

Avraham Averbuch (6)

Yosef Silbirger (4)

Schneur Hurwitz (5)

Yitzchok Goldin (3)

David Berman (3)

Yaakov Steinberg (4)

Meir Grinblatt (3)

Shlomo Shimonowitz (5)

Yisroel Bott (2)

Mania Shagalov (5)

Leib Tzivak (7)

Shmuel Yosef Ehrlichgirecht (4)

Leib Ralman (3)

Leib Lipszyc (4)

Shlomo Grosfeld (3)

David Eisenwasser (4)

Shlomo Markowitz (5)

Yehudis Segalov (1)

Nissen Pinsky (2)

Aharon Littman (4)

Mordechai Esterman (4)

Moshe Winorsky (5)

Rivka Liss (3)

Chanoch Zelikovsky (2)

Boruch Lepkivker (4)

Berush Guttman (2)

Dovber Levitin (4)

Leib Shpitz (2)

Dovber Grossbaum (1)

Gittel Breiner (2)

Nissen Nemanov (8)

Widow of Mordechai Tzvi (4)

Peretz Mochkin (4)

Levi Yitzchok Schapiro (4)

Lipa Schapiro (5)

Chaikul Chanin (4)

Chaim Minkowitz (4)

David Bravman (3)

Zalman Kalmenson (3)

Tzvi Galtzik (3)

Zalmen Liachov (3)

Zalmen Levitin (4)

Shimon Yaakovshvilli (4)

Yisroel Levin (8)

Avraham Drizin (11)

Shmaryahu Feldman (6)

Mordechai Perlow (7)

Mendel Dubrowsky (2)

Zalman Shimon Dworkin (6)

Korf, Yehoshua (10)

Son of Yisroel Levin (2)

Zalman Wilenkin (2)

Yehuda Chein (4)

Eli Lipsker (4)

Yaakov Sperlin (4)

Zalman Duchman (3)

Rebbetzin Schneerson (1)

Widow of Hendel of Pleshnitz (3)

Naftali Junik (5)

Meir Zarchi (5)

Shaul Raskin (2)

Widow of Mordechai Hirsh Mestana (4)

Moshe Sudakevich (6)

Avraham Yaakov Levitin (3)

Widow of Shmuel Marozov (1)

Widow of Lipa Dubrawsky (2)

Students of Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim (25)

Meir Gorelik (4)

Yosef Rivkin (7)

Zushe Rivkin (2)

Mendel Rabinowitz (3)

Yosef Brikman (5)

Zalman Feldman (4)

Binyomin Levin (4)

Michoel Teitelbaum (2)

Hillel Pewzner (2)

Broche Marozov (3)

Sholom Mendel Kalmenson (1)

Avrohom Meir Zucker (2)

Yechezkel Lokshin (1)

Berl Levin and his brother (2)

Dovber Shaikevitz (1)

Chonon Shiff (1)

Sholom SLavin (2)

Chana Schapiro (5)

Shlomo Matusof (1)

Zelig Katzman and his brother (2)

Bentzion Wengerow (1)

Eli Chaim Obolskoi (3)

Dovber Kievman (3)

Shmuel Yitzchok Raitzes (5)

Shmuel Gurevich (3)

Avraham Kievman (5)

Yitzchok Mendel Liss (4)

Yisroel Glassbaum (1)

Gershon Roitblatt (1)

Michoel Roitblatt (1)

Chaim Albrich (4)

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