First Zoliner Society

Zoliner Society

The First Zoliner Society is one of the last hundred or so of New York's Jewish hometown associations. At right is the organization's Constitution, issued in 1901 with revisions through 1948.


Erste Zoliner Chevre Anshe Sfard

Just prior to the Second World War, there were well over 2,000 landsmanshaftn or Jewish hometown associations in New York City alone. In 1901, immigrants from Zolynia and some of its outlying villages founded the Erste Zoliner Chevre Anshe Sfard (First Zoliner Society Congregation Sfard). There were also hometown organizations for Jewish immigrants from Lancut, Lezajsk, Grodzisko and most of the larger towns in the vicinity of Zolynia, and numerous fraternal societies with membership based on common interests or social outlook. These groups provided a social, cultural and religious network for immigrants adapting to their new environment.

The First Zoliner Society was an "Anshe" (often transliterated as "Anshey" or "Anshei"), which meant it was founded primarily as a religious organization. The group rented space in a building in Manhattan's Lower East Side for a synagogue, where men from the town could pray together. Eventually, especially as members moved to other neighborhoods in and around the New York area, the synagogal function became was phased out. One primary service for members was that of a chevre kadisha, or burial society, making sure that the bodies of members who died were prepared and buried according to Jewish law and tradition. The Society purchased three group burial plots in New York area cemeteries in which over 330 individuals have been buried.


A large majority of the landsmanshaftn in New York and across the United States are no longer functioning, their memberships lasting only one or two generations (much of this is the dispersal of families across the country over the years). The First Zoliner Society still has a membership of over seventy dues-paying members, and officers still meet every several months to discuss organizational business. Membership dues are currently ten U.S. dollars a year for individual membership and $16 per year for a couple (there additional extra dues and fees to reserve a cemetery plot).

Other Zolynia Organizations

Zholiners in Israel had a club or association that still had a contact address as of the early 1990s. Most of the hometown associations in Israel have also closed for business.

In 1928, an association for ethnic Poles from Zolynia who had immigrated to other countries was founded and is still a viable network. In June 2008, a reunion was held in Zolynia, attended by scores of former Zolynia residents. In the 1940s and 1950s, there was an organization in Chicago, Illinois called "Gminy Zolynia."

Officers of the First Zoliner Society

Founders, 1901:
Simon Kaner (Shimon Keiner); Zelig Yokel (Zelig Yakel); Abraham Tenenbaum (Avraham Tenenbaum); Jacob Wilkenfeld (Yakov Wilkenfelt); Elias Freund (Elihu Freind or Frynd); Lazar Wang (Lazar Wank); Israel Smith (Yisrael Shmit); Joseph Gelber (Yosef Gelber); Kiva Scherman (Akiba Sheman); Samuel Fensterheim (Shmuel Fensteheim); Yishayau Kahan; Joseph Margulies (Yosel Margalis); Isaac Buchen (Yitzchak Buken); Meyer Weitzen

Officers, 1901:
Samuel Fensterheim, President; Israel Langer, Vice President; Jacob Wilkenfeld, Treasurer; Joseph Margulies, Recording Secretary; Osais Kanan, Financial Secretary; Zolka Adler, First Trustee; Isaac Nusbaum, Second Trustee; Isaac Buchin, Third Trustee

Officers, 1920:
Eli Freund (Ali Freind), Ex-President; Betzaleil Kegel, President; Zev Kerper, Ex-President; Israel Schmidt (Yisrael Shmid), Ex-President; Avraham Yitzchak Tanenbaum, Recording Secretary

Officers, 1928:
Abraham David Schmidt (Shmidt), Ex-President; Jacob Bier (Yakov Yitzchak Bier), President; Hersch Augenbraun, Vice President; Samuel Hirsch Kapfer (Shmuel Tsvi Kapfer), Finance Secretary; Isaac Hersch Shiffan (Yitzchak Tsvi Shifman), Recording Secretary

Gate Committee, 1928:
Isaac Nussbaum (Yitzchak Nussbaum); Isaac Langbaum (Yitzchak Langbaum); H. Raab; P. Schwell; A. Kupferman; B. Schmith; A.J. Augenbraun; J. Brill; L. Sattler; A. Augenbaun

Gate Committee, 1942:
Philip Schwell (Shwell), Chairman; Jack Brill, Secretary; Hyman Augenbraun; Aaron Augenbraun; A. Jack Augenbraun; Sam Adler; Martin Buchen (Buken); Abe Kupferman

Officers, 1948:
Abe Smith, Ex-President; William Karper, President; Hyman Augenbraun, Vice President; Benny Augenbraun, Financial Secretary; B. Smith, Recording Secretary

Officers, 1967:
Herman Raab; Philip Schwell; Jack Brill; Ben Augenbraun; Baruch Schmith. Board Members: Abe Kupferman; Jack Augenbaum; Simon Adler; Aaron Augenbaum; Lipa Sattler; Willy Karper

Officers, Present:
Dr Leo Parnes, President; Mark Orbach, Treasurer; Joan Stock, Secretary


Signatures of the First Zolynia Society's first officers on the group's New York State incorporation papers, November 8, 1901. Attorney Joseph Wilkenfeld, who arrived in New York from Zolynia twenty years before, notarized the document.


More Information

Inquiries about membership or other participation in the First Zoliner Society can be directed to this site. Financial contribution to support Society activities or in honor of a loved one are welcome.

The "Sfard" in the Yiddish title of the First Zoliner Society is not a reference to Sephardic Judaism (the Jewish tradition associated with Spain, Africa and parts of Asia). The Jews of Zolynia were Ashkenazic, descended from Jews who had passed through Germany, France and most of Eastern Europe.

In this case, "Sfard" refers to Nussach Sfard, a prayer book that set a specific order of prayers and rituals that was very commonly used by Hasidic Jews in Galicia. It combines Hasidic, Orthodox and other Ashkenazic customs.

The "Anshe Sfard" in the name of a New York landsmanshaft was a signal and an assurance to those raised in a certain tradition would be familiar with the services.


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