The Keidaner Association in the U.S.

By Charles Lipshitz[1]

I left Keidan in 1907, shortly after my Bar Mitzvah as a student in the Keidan yeshiva.

A short time after my arrival in the United States, I learned that there is a Keidaner organization in existence. I did not join the Keidaner Association then, because I gave all my spare time to the Zionist cause, belonging to more than one Zionist club and organization.

But in 1929, I took a trip to Keidan to visit with my family. There and then, I learned a great deal about the Keidaner Assn. The people in charge of the Keidaner orphans invited me to a luncheon and I was told that the Keidaner orphans are maintained and supported by the Keidaner Ladies Auxiliary of New York.

At that luncheon, there were a number of leading Keidaner who told me of the great strife and struggle Keidan is living through, and they requested of me that upon my return to New York, I should contact the Keidaner Assn. and tell the members that Keidan could be helped by receiving a substantial sum of money for the purpose of organizing a stronger Loan Association which was already in existence. I promised them that I would do everything in my power to help them.

A few weeks after my return to New York, the Keidaner Assn. called a special meeting in order to listen to a living regard from Keidan. At that special meeting, I had the pleasure to speak to my Keidaners for the first time, and it seems that my words and analysis of Keidan made a deep impression, because a committee was appointed the same evening headed by Dr. Hyman Epstein for the purpose of raising a special fund for that Loan Assn. And right there at that meeting, someone proposed me to become a member of the Keidaner Assn. and I did, and ever since then, I am in active service of the Keidaner Assn. for the past 42 years.

The Keidaner Assn. born in 1900, like many other thousands of landsmanshaftn, was organized for the sole purpose and aim of fraternity, cooperation and assistance in case of need. The landsmanshaftn contributed a great deal to the life of the immigrant, who entered a new country, a new language and a life completely different than the little shtetl where he was born. Although the HIAS[2] was in existence and gave a great deal of assistance to every Jewish immigrant that needed help, yet it was the Fraternal Organization that that gave him the warm greeting and the friendship he needed. Many, many thousands obtained jobs through the help of their organization for their livelihood.

And as the years rolled by, American Jewry grew in the millions by immigrants and otherwise. It became the world’s greatest Jewish Community with many thousands of organizations of a different character than the landsmanshaftn and that kept on until the Hitler Holocaust.

To a certain extent, we knew that many thousands of our brethren were dying, but no one expected that six million of our beloved were massacred.

The Keidaner Assn. during the Second World War realized that after the war will be over, our little Keidan will be in great financial need. I then proposed to establish a Post War Relief Fund so that when the war will be over, we will have a substantial amount of money for immediate help. When the war ended, to our painful regret we found out that Keidan is completely destroyed and that there was no one to be helped. But that did not stop the Keidaner Assn. in continuing their effort by appealing to its members for more money to the Post War Relief Fund, because we felt that our duty and responsibility will increase by many folds.

Instead of Keidan, we will have to think and assist our brethren in many parts of the world due to the catastrophe that happened to our European Jewry. We did our best.

Shortly after, when the United Nations found advisable and voted for the establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine and the Declaration of Independence, once again the thoughts and responsibility of the Keidaner Assn. as well as the entire American Jewry changed. The Keidaner Assn. more than doubled its efforts to raise money through banquets and theater benefits etc., and as President of the Keidaner Assn. I am proud to state that we have fulfilled our responsibility to a great extent and the establishment of the Post War Relief Fund during the Second World War was of great assistance.

Right after the Declaration of Independence, when the need for homes in Israel was urgent due to the great number of immigrants from all over the world, we pledged eight (8) units amounting to $20,000 and in 1952 our pledge was fulfilled. During the years after 1952, we contributed to the UJA substantial amounts every year, and since the Six Day War in 1967, the Keidaner Assn. is contributing through the Emergency Fund of the UJA $1,000 every three months.

We know, that you Keidaner living in Israel are doing your share by building the country in every way culturally as well as economically.

I want to assure you that as long as I am alive and as long as the Keidaner Assn. in New York will be in existence, we will make every effort to assist Israel.

[1] Charles Lipshitz was president of the Keidaner Association of New York in the 1940s and 50s. He was the father of the American actor Hal Linden.

[2] Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society