RYMS - Rohatyner Young Mens Society

Certificate of Incorporation on May 9, 1894, New York

Associated Cemeteries: Link to spreadsheet of Burials in Cemeteries with Rohatyn Society plots

1. Mt Hebron Cemetery, NY; Block 57

Photos of RYMS gravestones at Mt. Hebron Cemetery

Photos of RYMS gate and memorial at Mt. Hebron Cemetery

2. Mt. Zion Cemetery, NY; Path 14.

Photos of RYMS gravestones at Mt. Zion Cemetery

Photos of RYMS gate and memorial at Mt. Zion Cemetery

Acquired Documents

RSRG document image folder for Locations of RYMS includes:

1. Three pdf files about Hennington Hall (Source: Phyllis Kramer)

2. Listing of RYMS in NYC directories 1908 and 1910. (Source: Fold3)

RSRG document image folder for Meetings of RYMS includes:

1. RYMS meeting minutes in Yiddish from 1934, 1935, and two from the 1930s. (Source: YIVO)

2. Newsletters in English from 1946, 1947, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1956, and 1999. (Source: Phyllis Kramer)

RSRG photo image folder for RYMS members includes:

1. Two photos of a RYMS meeting in NY. (Source: Alvin Edelstein)

2. Photo of the Committee for the 50th Anniversary Banquet 1947. (Source: Alvin Edelstein)

3. Photo of officers from 1950 Newsletter

YIVO Archives: Record Group 1016: RYMS Records include the years 1928-1964. (Source: Guide to YIVO Archives)

1. Constitution.

2. Minutes 1928-1960.

3. Memorial Book 1962.

4. Photograph.

Locations:

1911 - 124 Suffolk Street, Care of Osias Glass (Source: Jewish Social Service Association, Annual Report 1911 Vol. 37 page 116)

1919 - 254 East Second Street (Source: American Jewish Year Book, 1919 Vol.21, page 476) 254 East Second Street, NYC

Mission:

Rohatyner Young Men's Society , an organization chartered in 1903 in N.Y by immigrants from the town of Rohatin in Galicia, about 70 kilometers southeast of Lvov/Lemburg, known today as Rogatin, Ukraine. This landsmanshaften was organized by immigrants primarily for social reasons, for mutual assistance, and as a burial society. All the gravesites are sold. The names are of those buried in Mt. Hebron plot. The information source is Alvin Edelstein, Cemetery Chairman of the Rohatyner Young Men's Society. Alvin inherited this position from his late father-in-law, who held it for over fifty years. All meticulously handwritten Yiddish minutes of Rohatyner meetings of the first fifty years are preserved at YIVO in New York. Manhattan 1903 certificate of incorporation purpose is stated.

(Source: Phyllis Kramer, http://www.iajgs.org/cemetery/new-york-ny/queends-flushing.html)

Function:

Aside from social functions and charitable donations, the Society maintains over 1,000 graves in Queens, NY (Mt. Hebron and Mt. Zion), and have reserved graves for those of our remaining members who are interested. Historically, the Society once served additional very honorable functions. It maintained its own little local shtible and its rabbi, it welcomed newcomers to America, assisting their adjustment with apartment and employment, interest-free loans, hospital visits to the sick, and numerous other things. The Society meetings were once a month, and were heavily attended, and there were occasional grand social events. About half of our membership still resides in the greater NY area, and our twice yearly meetings are at Abigaels Restaurant in NYC. The Rabbi of the Rohatyner shul on the Lower East Side, was for quite some time, Rabbi Hulkower. His grandson, Bernard Hulkower, is the current Society president.

(Source: Alvin Edelstein)

The Rohatyner Young Men's Society Shul

Hennington Hall at 214 East 2nd Street, NYC, NY.

mistakenly written as 254 East 2nd Street, New York, NY on the website http://www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/erc-syn-manhattan.htm

Bernard Hulkower in childhood attended the Rohatyner Young Men's Society shul on the lower East Side. The place was a catering establishment called Hennington Hall. There were several other landmanshaften there. A cousin of mine named Moshe was a Rabbi but I don't think he was paid. He was just one of the congregants. My father, Moshe Avraham, had no formal education but he used to read many Yiddish newspapers The Forverts, the Morgen Journal, the Tag and the Amerikaner. During breaks in services, which happened a lot during the holidays, he would tell the assemblage stories that he had read. Isaac Bashevis Singer was serialized in one of the newspapers. (Source: Bernard Hulkower)

Hennington Hall (214 East 2nd St) was owned by Meyer Rothstein for many years and was and is a splendid hall. Its a private residence now. It is two stories high on the main floor with a full kitchen in the basement and on the main floor, and amazing windows. In 1959, they were going to convert it into an apt. house but that never happened. - Written by Phyllis Kramer.

The 1959 NY Times article on Hennington Hall, and Outside and inside pictures of Hennington Hall

Last Call for Landsmanschaften? Aid Societies Fold as Old-Country Ties Fade By Marissa Brostoff

Published August 21, 2008, issue of August 29, 2008.

The following article about the Rohatyner Young Men's Society can be found online at http://www.forward.com/articles/14060/

For the members of a century-old Jewish fraternal society, the organization's breakup has literally turned into a fight over graves. The Rohatyner Young Men's Society is one of the last of the landsmanschaften, benefit societies formed at the turn of the past century by groups of townsfolk who had emigrated from Eastern Europe. Thousands of landsmanschaften once dotted American cities with Jewish immigrant populations, but the few that remain are now struggling to plan their own demise.

Several generations removed from its point of origin, Rohatyner, as members call it, may have outlived the conditions for its existence. Its dispersed constituents, the great-and great-great-grandchildren of the group's founders on Manhattan's Lower East Side, do not socialize outside of biannual dinners and no longer need the organization as a dispenser of loans and medical help. Instead, like other landsmanschaften in their final stages, Rohatyner now primarily functions as a burial society and will likely soon cease to be even that.

"The normal life of an organization like that is, it goes from having all kinds of social activities to something like an annual banquet, and the last thing to survive is the burial benefit," said Robert Kestenbaum, who, as an officer of the Yiddish cultural and political organization Workmen?s Circle/Arbeter Ring, has seen the decline of dozens of landsmanschaften. "And that's where the really sad stuff comes in."

A vote conducted by mail last month suggested that most Rohatyner members are resigned to closing the group's doors for the last time. Of the 32 households that voted, many members belong to the organization along with their families, and indeed several extended clans stretch through the association - 24 favored disbanding. But those who oppose disbanding feel strongly that they may lose not only a link to the past, but also a plot in the cemetery. Rohatyner owns land in two Jewish cemeteries in Queens where, according to the group's treasurer, 72 year-old Alvin Edelstein, about 850 society members are buried. Another 100 graves remain open. Enrollment in the organization entitles an individual to a heavily subsidized burial, an increasingly pressing concern for Rohatyner's aging membership. Ruth Brown, an 84-year-old association member who lives in a Florida beachside community, was incredulous when asked whether she ever attends the group's dinners. "I'm down in Florida for 30 years," she said. "I'm not going to fly up for a meeting." And yet, because of the cemetery, Brown was among the minority who voted to keep Rohatyner intact.

"I just want to know I'm going to have a place to rest," she said. "My grandparents are there, my parents are there, my husband is there."

Although Brown purchased her cemetery plot from the organization years ago, her worries are not unfounded. According to Kestenbaum, when landsmanschaften break up, their gravesites can become stuck in limbo. In New York State, unless a disbanding society deeds its graves back to the cemetery or to the families that plan to use them, those plots, by law, must remain empty. "There are thousands of graves in New York that under current statutes can never be used," Kestenbaum said.

This is not the first time that the issue of burial has raised uncomfortable questions for the group. Ten years ago, the organization voted to seal its ranks permanently - even excluding members' children from joining - because of a lack of cemetery space.

These concerns mark the distance from the organization's halcyon days, which members say lasted from its establishment in 1894, when the group's founders named it for their hometown of Rohatyn in what is now western Ukraine, through the World War II era. (The town also lent its name to its most famous son, investment banker Felix Rohatyn.) In 1900, Rohatyn was a lively community of 7,000 people, about half of whom were Jewish. According to the town's page on the Web site JewishGen, it spawned no fewer than four landsmanschaften in the United States and Israel.

"My father was a failed grocer during the Depression, and he would put on a suit when he went to the meetings," recalled Bernard Hulkower, the group's 80-year-old president. "It was a big deal." As members became more prosperous, Rohatyner directed its budget away from aid for members and toward charitable donations to such Jewish organizations as Hadassah.

"We eat, we give to charity and we bury people," Edelstein said.

What to do with the money that remains in the group's coffers is a matter that will have to be dealt with if the organization breaks up. According to Hulkower, $160,000 remains, and some members want the money given away; others, however, believe that it should be divided among them. For now, arguing about whether, and how, to disband appears to be Rohatyner's one remaining group avocation. "There's been talk about disbanding for at least 10 years," said Robyn Katz, who is Edelstein's niece and, at 50, one of the group's youngest members. And arguing about the cemetery is not a new pastime in the society. Katz's late grandfather once worked the group into a tizzy by posing the perplexing question of whether a member who already buried one wife in the Rohatyner plot could bury a second wife there, as well.

"Everyone discusses it; it gets very heated," Katz said. "It's very philosophical. And then my grandfather said: "Well, this is what I told him already. One spouse per plot." He had already decided!? If this summer's vote turns out to be definitive, those conversations may be about to come to an end.

"There's a general feeling that we're not going anywhere," Hulkower said. "The next meeting should be the last."

(Source: The Forward. 2009, Forward Association, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)