Home Shtetl Life Holocaust Landsmanshaftn History Photos Videos Yizkor Book
Maps Trips Surnames Researchers Links Guest Book Contact  

The Szczuczyner-Grajewer Shul in New York

Translation from Yiddish, pages 270-273, of the Grajewo Yizkor Book*

The first Grajewo association in New York was established in about 1890 and had its Shul on Ludlow Street - a building of sweat shops in which the Shul occupied some floors. The founder of the Shul was Shlomo Littenberg, one of the first Grajewer immigrants, who was immediately successful and became a significant cloak manufacturer. He had what could be called a "Grajewer Shop." As soon as a new immigrant who was a tailor or one who wanted to learn tailoring came from Grajewo to America, he would be taken immediately to Littenberg in the shop, where he was Americanized and could look for what to do next. The Grajewer association was established in his shop, and Littenberg was its president for a long time. Also active there were: Harris Rotboim and Aharon Leventhal, who were also later very active in the Grajewer relief committee, in the aftermath of the First World War - (the first as treasurer, and the second as vice-chairman); Meyer Wolf, Matish Denemark, Gershon Zumerfeld, Max Zilbershtein, Willie Grinshtein, Leizer-Hersh Berman, Leizer and Yehuda Mendelson, Elye Tobias and others. The membership was about 40.

The Szczuczyner-
Grajewer Shul
242 Henry Street
New York City


At the same time the Szczuczyner compatriots also had an association, bigger than the Grajewer. Its membership was about 60. On Forsythe Street, they had a bigger Shul than the Grajewer. In 1906, both Shuls united. The Grajewer gave up their Shul and merged with the Szczuczyner.

From the outset the merger appeared unsuccessful. Frictions started immediately. The Szczuczyners felt themselves at home. Their association was bigger and richer, they held onto their home, their Shul, and their managers from the outset had the best positions and controlled the most desirable honors and distinguished positions, while the Grajewers, as "guests," had to be satisfied with behind the bima, with the slimmer honors and with their fewer and smaller positions.

They soon spoke of separation. The Grajewers already wanted to separate but the Szczuczyners refused to return the assets which the Grajewers had invested into the partnership. Both sides brought the issue to a rabbinical court of three rabbis who ruled in favor of the Szczuczyners, but they appealed to both sides for peace and living together. The appeal worked. Immediately after that, there were elections for officers and both sides got appropriate representation in the administration. Peace was so cemented that in a few years, in 1910, they decided to build the memorable Shul on Henry Street.

When they began to build the Shul, the association had only $1800. When the Shul was completed, it cost over $36,000. Biggest thanks for the Shul belongs to Mr. Nathan Hammer, himself an experienced builder who devoted his entire time to finding various resources to make it possible that the Shul would be completed.

The Shul is not a large one, but surely one of the most beautiful Shuls on the East Side. In the first years of the Shul's existence, it was not only a holy place in which to pray, but also a center for celebrations and other occasions. During the time of the First World War, the Shul was a center for relief activities.

The first president of the new Shul was Moshe Kronenberg, who held that position two years, and Max Zilbershtein, vice-president. Then Mr. Harris Rotboim became president. About 20 years later Yankel Burshtein (son-in-law of Boruch-Mordechai, the bath-house attendant) held the presidency. He made it his task and actually made it possible to wipe out the Shul's mortgage.

Almost all those active in the Shul were workers, toilers, who made it their life-task to support a Grajewer religious center in New York. Among them: Isaac Kohn, Moshe Goldshtein, Avrohom-Yitzchak Hammer, Yisroel Kleinman, Aharon-Yankl Weinberg, Itshke Rosen, Gershon Kohn, Max Zeligzon, Avrohom Abbot, Shmuel Brikman, Yitzchak Alpert, Michl Edelson, Alter Feinzilber, the brothers Green (of whom Yankel was president), Mattes Gerson and his children, Moshe Zilbershtein, Max Rotbil and his son Benny.

For a number of years the Shul also had an active ladies' auxiliary which helped a great deal with relief work. Most active were Soreh Goldshtein (Soreh Monishes) and Fannie Zilberman.

The current officers of the Shul are: Moshe Kohn, president; Sam Birnboim, vice president; Annie Fein, secretary; Max Rozenzweig, treasurer; Yankl Burshtein, manager of the Chevra Kadisha. The new officers recently bought a new cemetery for $3,000 and spent $6,000 to renovate the Shul.

*The Grayewo Memorial Book
Published by the United Grayever Relief Committee, New York, N.Y. 1950.
Pages 270-273, in Yiddish.

Editor's notes or definitions are entered in [brackets].
(Parentheses) in the translation appear here as they appeared in the original text.

Translated from Yiddish by: Helen Lewis. Edited by: Jose Gutstein.

   Return to Landsmanshaftn Section