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New York City Excitement With My Grandma

29 Nov

Whenever I watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, known in my mind as the Macy’s Day Parade, I always think of my Grandma Esther. The first time I went to Radio City Music Hall was with my siblings and my Grandma to see “That Darn Cat” and the Rockettes for the annual Christmas extravaganza. It did not matter that we were Jewish. What was important was seeing the show.

I remember that the line went around the block, but we had tickets. On the main floor! I still remember the first time I saw the Grand Staircase. I remember the thrill of sitting in those seats. I have never forgotten the movie that starred Hayley Mills, or the moment the Rockettes came on to the stage.

The parade brings back this wonderful memory, as well as others that Grandma arranged. I remember the year she arranged for us to watch the parade from her office. Grandma was the executive secretary for a shoe company that had their office opposite Macy’s! Yes right opposite the main store. One year we had the opportunity to watch the parade and all the shows from the company’s warm office and excellent viewing site. I still get chills thinking about how excited I was to be there. This was so much nicer than standing outside in the cold.

Grandma, worked until she was 77, treated me to special dates in the city . They must have been birthday celebrations. I loved going to Horn and Hardart. The Automat’s vast choices of cakes and foods were amazing. Grandma would let me get her food and my food. It was fun opening the doors and removing exactly what we wanted. Such joy!

My favorite date, to be honest, was to Schraftt’s Ice Cream Palour on Fifth Avenue. I remember wearing my dirndl dress and white gloves…to go eat ice cream!!! I had a chocolate sundae, of course. The gloves came off when it was time to eat. I still see the beauty of the restaurant. And I still can remember leaving with Grandma, and skipping as we left. I was so excited.

I know it was in the spring because after ice cream we went to the Barton’s store to purchase lots of candy and treats for Grandma’s annual Passover seder. I see, in my mind’s eye, the boxes of Barton’s Almond Kisses, chocolate covered matzah and other sweets.   I remember that we each had two shopping bags to carry.

Then it was back to her office. I would sit and wait for my Dad to come and get me after work. Grandma would give me some busy work to do while I waiting. And I did get to speak to the president, Mr. Pearlstein. But I knew I had to be quiet while Grandma was working.

It is not surprising that to this day I love watching the Macy’s Parade each Thanksgiving. Even though I now live in the Midwest, on Thanksgiving morning I get a cup of coffee and sit contently for three hours watching as the parade marches on and my memories linger.

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Trouble with the Office: An American Bialystoker Story

21 Mar

The following is a report my Great Grandfather, Louis Goldman, made in a 1937 issue of the Bialystoker Stimme. It explains the reason why the Bialystoker Bikur Cholim decided that the organization needed its own offices. It seems asking for help from the community was just not working out. It gives the history of the decision to rent its own office. I think this might have be the precursor of the Bialystoker Home for the Aged, which was built over two years in 1929-1931.

Here is his article, as translated by my friend Blumah and edited a bit by me for clarity.

“The Bialystoker landsman in that time mostly lived in the East side (of New York City). The Bikur Cholim decided to put in that neighborhood a place for the sick people to receive help without difficulty. So they would be close to their neighborhood.

They arranged for a doctor and arranged for a pharmacist to get them medicine.

It was decided to give to the poor sick people a free pass to see the doctor and also pay for the medicine.

A certain landsman, who had a hot dog /salami store on Essex Street, gave his store for the sick people to come to receive these passes and papers. This became the office where they could get the papers. But there was a problem: The store keeper would give out these free passes like a prize to his own customers who would buy meat from him. (This was not what was intended so,) It was decided to rent a place somewhere else.

Next they found a butcher store from one of the landsman, Philip T. However there was not very convenient for several reasons.

They moved the office again to a new place. To “Fisher” who had a printing shop on Clinton Street. But Fisher started asking every month for new ‘additions’. (Not sure if he wanted more money or what he is wanting. Probably more money.)

So the Bikur Cholim decided once and for all to rent a permanent office for themselves. It was decided that this office could also act as a club for the active members. Also there would always be a secretary who would be paid and who would take care all of the cases for the Bikur Cholim.”

As my great grandfather, or the editor of the Bialystoker Stimme, entitled the article, “Trouble with the Office,” I think that was a fine assessment.  Personally I loved how the store owner gave out free medical passes to his customers.  One way to build a clientele, even though it was not ‘kosher.’  I know that they were trying their best to help their landsmen in need, without using the money needlessly.  Building an office might have seemed that way to them.  But eventually, having a paid secretary made more sense.

The history of the Bialystoker Home For the Aged and the Bialysotker landsmanshaft, immigrant organization, can be found in the NY Landmarks Preservation Commission Report of May 21, 2012. See link below:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/downloads/pdf/reports/2529.pdf

The part of this story that impacts my great grandfather’s article, is this small section from the report:

“In its first year of existence the Bialystoker Center was located in an old building at 228 East Broadway just few houses down from the basement location of the Bikur Cholim. In 1922-23 it replaced the aging structure with a new five-story headquarters, which included office space not just for its own use but also provided meeting rooms for affiliated associations.”

So I assume the offices that my great grandfather is writing about was this office on 228 East Broadway. Eventually, definitely by 1937 when his article was written, the Bikur Cholim offices were included in the beautiful building that was finished in 1931.

As I have said in earlier articles about my great grandfather,  I am so proud to be his descendant.  Each of these articles brings him to life.

 

Joyous Occasions in Discovered In Yiddish

14 Mar
IMG_6556

My Uncle Bernie and part of the article about his bar mitzvah.

 

Besides articles about my Great Grandfather Louis Goldman/Baruch Lev Litwack, there were also announcements of family events in the Bialystoker Stimme magazines under the title “Simcha by Landslight,”   or “Joyous Events by our community members.”   I found three events in Yiddish about my extended family members, which my friend, Blumah, translated for me as well.

The first was about my Uncle Bernie, or Bernard, about his bar mitzvah:

“A nice bar mitzvah party took place on Shabbat. The 11 of June by Mr. Bernard.  A nice, accomplished young man, the son Mr. and Mrs. H Rosenberg and the grandson of our dear friends and active community members Louis and Ray Goldman from the Bronx.

A nice private group of close family celebrated by the simcha. They wished much nachas to the parents from this bar mitzvah boy.

As is well known, Mr. and Mrs. Louis Goldman, the grandfather and grandmother, are actively in the Bialystoker Center and the Ladies Auxiliary.

Mr. Goldman is now the president of the Bialystoke charity organization that was the Bialystoke Free loan society: Bialystoke Somech Noflim, (It was started in 1886 in the USA.) This is he oldest charity association that the Bialystoke started.

We wish the zayde and bubie, and the parents to live to have much nachas and much joy from Bernard and the other children.”

I loved that even in an announcement of my uncle’s bar mitzvah, it was important to the writer to list my great grandfather and great grandmother’s accomplishments in the Bialystoke societies.   I am thinking it is to give them even more ‘kovod,’ honor. Or perhaps it is to encourage others to volunteer?

In later years, when the Bialystoker Stimme had more English, there is another Bar Mitzvah announcement for my father. But it is much shorter and written in English.

One of my father’s cousin’s is also mentioned in “Joyous Occasions.” My Dad’s first cousin David M. made the Yiddish paper, in a shorter and less flowery article.

“The Goldman’s talented grandson, David M., graduates with honors. The 16 year old grandson of our active members, Mr. and Mrs. Louis Goldman, of the Bronx. He just graduated from Townsend Harris High School. He was immediately accepted in City College. We wish the parents Mr. and Mrs. Eli Marks and the grandparents of David much nachas from their very capable David.”

The final “Joyous Occasion” in Yiddish was my great Uncle Sam’s wedding announcement, for his first marriage. I never knew the woman mentioned in this announcement. But I do know that they had one daughter. I honestly only remember meeting her when I was a young child. I think the family lost touch with her.

“Sunday Dec. 11, our friends, Mr. and Mrs. Louis Goldman brought their youngest child to the Huppah: Samuel with the beautiful, intelligent Miss Otta Schmuckler. The wedding was private, and the supper was afterwards celebrated in Central Plaza, where many friends from both sides were part of the joyous occasion.

We wish Mr. and Mrs. Louis Goldman and the young couple much nachas.”

The only thing I can say about this announcement is that I always thought his first wife’s name was Yetta. And that might have been the name she used in English.

Every one of these little Yiddish articles is like a jewel for me. I find out tiny bits about my family’s life in the 1920 – 1940s. I see pieces of my Dad’s childhood. He probably was at all these simchas: his brother’s bar mitzvah, his cousin’s graduation party, his uncle’s wedding. We do have a few photos from this time. But I have never seen the photos of my uncle and my Dad’s cousin that shown in these articles.

The Bialystoker Stimme continues to be a treasure for me and I hope for my family.

 

 

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2016/03/08/louis-of-the-blessed-heart/

 

Finding The Nina’s Starts A Perfect New York City Day

3 Jan

image

My Al Hirschfeld Collection, including the article that appeared in the NY Times a few days after his death.

Like many who grew up in the New Jersey/New York City area in the 50s, 60s and 70s, my Sunday morning routine included one important item, I had to open the New York Times and find the Nina’s in the newest Al Hirschfeld drawing!

My Dad started me on the search for Nina’s. Little did he know what would happen to me. I became obsessed.   I loved looking at the newest entertainment stars Hirschfeld had rendered in ink. They often were stars of Broadway musicals, another passion I developed. I especially loved when he did a complicated drawing that had more than one Nina! Heaven!

Thus it is not surprising that over the years, I purchased books of Hirschfeld’s drawings so that I could look for Nina’s even when I was not getting the “New York Times.” Especially when he passed away at age 99 and his long run of drawings for the paper and the world ended. I was saddened when he passed away close to my birthday in January of 2003.

I even saved the article that appeared in the New York Times on January 26, 2003, six days after his death. He was that important to me.

When I was older and moved to the Midwest, I was glad he was born in St. Louis, the same city where my husband was born.  Another connection!

There is something about his drawings that are so free and moving. He captured the essence of each person with such simple lines; it is deceiving. And so many of his drawings are just joyful.

I have been to the Al Hirschfeld Theater in NYC, (last time to see Kinky Boots) where a permanent display of replicas his works adorn the second floor walls. I made my daughter look at each drawing with me to find the Nina’s. A tradition she had to share!

This past summer, in July 2015, when I visited my family, I enticed my sister to go with me to the New York Historical Society to see the exhibition: “The Hirschfeld Century: The Art of Al Hirschfeld.”

To be honest, it did not take too much enticing the get my sister to leave New Jersey with me to see the exhibition. She knew how much I loved his drawings. In fact she and her husband purchased the book, Hirschfeld on Hirschfeld for me as a gift many years ago!

And, of course, she also grew up looking for the Nina’s. We might have had one or two arguments over his drawings through the years. Who would find the Nina’s first was a big deal!

The exhibit was wonderful. My sister and I went from drawing to drawing, checking the number by his name to see how many Nina’s we needed to find. And then the search was on.   We looked at every sketch, drawing and film.  It was delightful.

I wanted to take a photo at the art table that was set up. But the guard would not let me. Sigh.   I could almost imagine myself as Hirschfeld, but no such luck. I am not a good artist. But I was disappointed not to have the photo at the replica of his desk.

The gift shop lured us in. Luckily they would ship my purchases home! A book, a mug, a t-shirt and some gift cards went to the Midwest. My sister’s purchases spent the rest of the day in Manhattan with us, even attending a show with our Aunt and cousin.

It was a glorious New York City type of day: subway ride, taxi, show, lunch, ice tea at Bryant Park, dinner at the Bryant Park Grill in the City, hanging out with family, and Finding the Nina’s!

The Lighthouses That Made Me Feel Safe

22 Nov

When I was a little girl, my family drove every weekend from North Bergen, New Jersey, into New York City to have dinner with my paternal grandparents and my father’s family. We had to drive over the George Washington Bridge and into the Bronx.

My favorite part of this drive was usually on the way home. Then sometimes my Dad would drive in a round about way so we came to a point where we could see the little red lighthouse under the bridge. We did not always see it, but when we did it made me happy!

We had often read the book by Hildegarde Swift, “The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge.” It was one of my favorites. I loved the story about the lighthouse being happy till the bridge was built, and then had to realize it was still important. I loved that little lighthouse that lives in Washington Park. So those little excursions to see it filled me with joy.

Rainbow and bridge

Near the bottom of the rainbow stands the little red lighthouse. View from my parents apartment.

Even now, whenever I am back east, I try to get a glimpse of the lighthouse. But it is much harder to see from the roads with all the barriers up, unlike the 60s when it was more open.

When my siblings and I were married, my parents moved into an apartment in Cliffside Park. Their view overlooked the Hudson River. From my parent’s apartment we could look north and see the George Washington Bridge and the New York City skyline. Whenever I was there I would try, perhaps through the trees, with binoculars, to see the little red lighthouse.

I really not see it. But I would imagine it sitting across the river just under the bridge, at the end of a rainbow.   In my mind it was always saving people, even though it had not be used in decades. The lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

I know it is more than just the book and the adorableness of this little red beacon that made me love lighthouses. Our family had its own attachment to the security a lighthouse provides. My maternal grandparents had a lighthouse nightlight that kept us safe at night in the Catskills.

Lighthouse in the Catskills

The lighthouse nightlight in the Catskills house.

Night in Kauneonga Lake is extremely dark. There are no street lights. And when the night comes and the lights go out…it can be scary for children. Well for adults too, if you do not like the dark. And I do not like the dark!

It was this little lighthouse nightlight that made me feel safe.   It was not the usual nightlight. This heavy brass sculpture has a tiny light bulb in the top that can be switched on and off. Throughout my life, well since about 1964, it sat on a table at the bottom of the stairs. And every night that I spent at my grandparents’ and then my parent’s Catskill home, this lighthouse’s small beacon illuminated the scary dark nights. It was a beacon that kept use all safe. I loved that little lighthouse, as did my siblings and all the grandchildren.

The watchtower nightlight

My watchtower nightlight.

So when my children were little, I also bought a ceramic lighthouse/tower/nightlight that I kept it at the bottom of my stairs, in deference and in honor of the lighthouse I so remembered and loved. My nightlight was not really a lighthouse. It is more of watch tower with a dragon guarding it. But it was the idea of it that made me want to own it and use it in my house. It reminded of my grandparent’s nightlight.

Lighthouse

The Catskills lighthouse in my house.

I now have both nightlights.   After my parents passed away, and we divided some of the belongings, I took the lighthouse back to Kansas with me. I have it sitting on a small half table, just as it sat on a small half table in the Catskills. I have it near the bottom of the stairs. But it is not plugged in anymore. The cord is frayed and I am concerned about the chances of sparks. But I see daily, and I remember the glow of its light.

Across from it is the newer nightlight watch tower. The watch tower is plugged in, but with no children at home, I no longer turn it on. Both lights are out now. But in this troubled time, I still l feel a sense of security when I see a lighthouse and my lighthouse night lights.  I imagine sometimes that they nod to each other and whisper, “we kept them safe.”

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Red_Lighthouse

12 Delancey Street and My Family

10 Oct

My Grandma Esther often talked about Delancey Street. Born in New York City in 1898, she would often regale me with stories about growing up in NYC before there were cars. I knew she had a strong connection to this one street in the Bowery, but I was not sure why.

I always loved the movie, “Crossing Delancey,” because I felt like I knew Delancey Street from my paternal grandmother’s stories. It shows a more modern Delancey Street, but the feel and atmosphere of this ethnic area remains strong in the movie.

Ad about my grandfather's tailor shop.

Ad about my grandfather’s tailor shop.

Then this summer I found a wonderful ad in an old Bialystoker Stimme, I found in my parent’s Catskills home. The ad is for my Grandfather’s tailor shop at 12 Delancey Street.  It says in the top right, formally of G & R. The G was for my great grandfather, Louis Goldman.   My Grandpa Harry worked with my great grandfather as a tailor, and eventually married Louis Goldman’s daughter, my Grandma Esther.

I love how the ad is in English and Yiddish.   My great grandparents were from the Bialystoker area of Poland/Russia.  They spoke only Yiddish at home.  In fact my Dad spoke Yiddish as his first language.  So it makes sense that my Grandfather would advertise his business in both languages, especially in this bi-lingual publication.

My Great Grandfather Louis and Great Grandmother Rae in 1894 around the time of their wedding.

My Great Grandfather Louis and Great Grandmother Rae in 1894 around the time of their wedding.


Grandpa Harry and Grandma Esther on their engagement in 1921.

Grandpa Harry and Grandma Esther on their engagement in 1921.

They not only worked together, my great grandparents, my grandparents and eventually my Dad and his siblings all lived together. With her Dad and her future husband working on Delancey Street, no wonder that my Grandmother had so many stories about being there and what it was like.

She would tell me about the horses, the peddlers and the crowds of people. She told me how you had to be so careful when you crossed the street.   She could even tell me about the first cars that went up and down Delancey and how it would frighten the horses.

Delancey Street was one of the main ‘drags’ in the Lower East Side; an area with shops, restaurants and so many people. To have a store on Delancey Street was wonderful. And the tailor shop was so close to Bowery Street! The street the Bowery Section was named after! I never knew that is where his tailor shop was located. By the time I arrived my Grandfather was long retired, and did most of his sewing in the spare room of their apartment.

I like how the ad mentions all the nearby sites. It is close to a subway stop. Still is. I checked on Google Maps. It was close to Christie Street, a misspelling as on Google Maps it is written as Chrystie Street, with a ‘y’ not an ‘I’. But who knows, back in the 1930s it was spelled with an ‘I.’

Google Maps also let me see that there is now a bar in the building where the tailor shop was located. The bar covers both 10 and 12 Delancey Street. I am not sure how my grandparents would feel about that. But I am sure it is still the same building!

Just a few doors from my Grandfather’s tailor shop was the Bowery Ballroom. This building was completed in 1929 and stood empty for some time, but eventually became a high quality store…so close to my grandfather’s tailor shop.

Further down Delancey Street was Ratner’s kosher dairy restaurant. I remember going to Ratner’s with my parents and grandparents. But perhaps we went to the one on Second Avenue, and not the one on Delancey Street. I cannot imagine we would have gone there and my Grandmother not pointing out where the tailor shop had been located.

The wonderful Tenement Museum at 97 Orchard Street is just off Delancey Street as well. It is just a few blocks from the tailor shop. I wonder if the people who lived there visited my great grandfather or grandfather and their shop? It is possible. My great grandfather was born probably in the early 1870s and married my great grandmother Rae in 1894. My grandfather was born in 1889. I am not sure when the store opened on Delancey Street, but it was there in the early part of the 20th Century.

My Grandpa Harry was a great tailor! When I studied sewing in high school, it was my Grandpa who taught me how to match plaids and how to make pockets perfectly. He taught me about French seams and other important sewing techniques.

When my grandparents moved from their three-bedroom apartment into a much smaller place in Co-op City, I was distressed to learn they had given away his old treadle sewing machine. But since I had no space for it, I guess it had to go. It should have gone to a museum. This was the last connection to the tailor shop.

In the end it does not matter. The most important information for me is the fact that the tailor shop was on Delancey Street! Now I can let my imagination run wild. I can watch “Crossing Delancey” with different eyes. Looking for the location of my family’s tailor shop. And thinking about Delancey Street and my family.

 

 

 

 

A blog about finding the Bialystoker Stimme magazines: https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2015/08/16/treasures-in-the-bookcase/

Treasures in the Bookcase

16 Aug
Bound Copies of the Bialystoker Stimme from 1922-1941. Several were personalized.

Bound Copies of the Bialystoker Stimme from 1922-1941. Several were personalized.

I honestly thought that we had discovered all the treasures in our Catskills house. Last summer my siblings and I had torn the house apart, filling a 20-cubic yard dumpster with unused and unusable items.   We had discovered a mother lode of photos and a photo album from the 1920s that I am still slowly scanning and finding more information about our maternal grandmother and her family.

But I had forgotten about the old bookcase in the corner of the living room. I actually did not think about it until the very last day we were in the Catskills this summer, when I got a ‘jubba’ as my grandfather would say — a feeling that I had to open the glass door.

My Grandma Esther's bookcase in the corner.

My Grandma Esther’s bookcase in the corner.

We now call it my brother’s bookcase. But in reality it was my paternal grandmother’s and before her it belonged to her parents. Since they lived in the same apartment, there was no real distinction. The bookcase came with the books in it after my Grandma Esther passed away. Over the years, new books were put in and the older books migrated to the bottom shelf.

We have placed it along side the fireplace behind the television. It acts as part of a wall, so that the area behind the fireplace can be used as a bedroom when needed. This semi-room holds an old upright piano, a trundle bed that opens up to two twins, and a computer desk. So we usually do not even think of this piece of furniture as a bookcase, but more of a wall divider.

In any case, my ‘jubba’ called me over to the bookcase about an hour before we were planning to drive home. And inside of it, I found treasures! Nine books containing bound copies of the Bialystoker Stimme from 1922 through 1941, as well as a 45th anniversary book.   My great grandparents, Louis and Rae (Rachel) Goldman, were very active in the Bialyskoker group in New York City that founded the Bialystoker Home for the Aged.   In fact, he was on several important committees and boards.

My great grandfather top right.

My great grandfather top right.

My great grandfather was elected to the board, or re-elected in 1936. Louis Goldman.

My great grandfather was elected to the board, or re-elected in 1936. Louis Goldman.

While just skimming through the bound copies, I found announcements of both my Dad’s and Uncle’s bar mitzvah. These were in English. The Bialystoker Stimmer was printed mainly in Yiddish. But there were also a few English pages or a few English paragraphs in almost every copy. I also found photos of my great grandfather on several pages that announced committee and board members.

His 70th birthday

His 70th birthday

But the best was a photo of him and a paragraph in Yiddish celebrating his 70th birthday. I can read enough Yiddish to recognize his name and a few other words. To be honest, I do not know what it says yet. But I will find out.

That was with just a quick skim. I needed these books.

I told my sister that I had to ship them home and search them. Since we found the books in what is my brother’s bookcase, my sister sent him a text asking if I could ship them to Kansas.

They both agreed that the books should come home with me, as I am acting as the family historian.   I was so excited. It was well worth the $40 I spent at Staples to ship them home.

Today the books arrived!

An article about my great grandfather. I also need to get this translated.

An article about my great grandfather. I also need to get this translated.

As I continued to go through the books, I found what appears an article about him. It, too, is all in Yiddish. I know I will need it translated. I am excited to know what it says about him. I know he was a tailor.

My Dad's first cousin, David, 1938. I think he graduated high school at age 16, but I need a translation.

My Dad’s first cousin, David, 1938. I think he graduated high school at age 16, but I need a translation.

I cannot read all the Yiddish, except really for the names and a few words. But in skimming the books I sometimes see a photo that jumps out at me. Like the one of my Dad’s first cousins, David. Well, it looked like a very young David. I was right, it was him at age 16, when he graduated high school. This article is also in Yiddish. I need a translator!!!

I realize that I will never know if my great grandparents were mentioned in other places. But I am taking photos of every page that has a photo or a mention of my family that I can find.

But besides the book, I posted the photo of my great grandfather Louis Goldman and the small article on the “Tracing the Tribe” Facebook group. I was hoping someone would be able to translate it for me. Although that has not yet happened, I remain hopeful. But someone posted a link to the Bialystoker Center Yahrzeit Cards website. There I found the yahrzeits for my great grandparents, my grandparents and my great aunt. I will say that the Hebrew name for my grandfather is wrong on the site. But it is definitely him. That was also interesting to see.

I started with the books from the 1940s, I am now in the 1920s.  There is much more Yiddish and much less English in these earlier books.  I am hoping to still find more treasures in them.  But to see members of my family mentioned in these early archives makes me so happy.  I knew my great grandfather was an active volunteer.  These books confirm what I had heard.  My heart is happy.

I hope to find a good home for these books after I am done investigating them. There are many other families mentioned in the books.   I do not know how many people saved them.   In our case it was benign neglect. We did not know they were there, so they were just ignored.   And allowed to survive. A happy, lucky find for me and my family.

PS: Thanks to Sabena and her Yiddish teacher who translated the paragraph about my great grandfather:  “Mr. Luis Goldman, has just become a septigenerian (70), and if he himself hadn’t told us, we would certainly not believed it. Mr. Goldman is among the most active people in Sumkh Nuflim (I think that’s a place) in the Center and in the old age home where his work is greatly admired. We wish him a lot of further birthdays with joy in his family.”

PPS:  The Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA, would love to have the Bialystoker Stimme books!

http://kehilalinks.jewishgen.org/bialygen/Yahrzeit.htm