Untitled Document

The Lerner Family Circle Record

Introduction to the Lerner Family Circle Record
By Paul Silverman


My great-grandmother, Sara Rosenstock Lerner, immigrated to the United States with all but one of her children during the first decade of the 20th century. Sara’s oldest son, Morris Lerner, remained in eastern Europe and eventually settled with his wife and two sons in Germany. By 1935, the oppression of Jews in Nazi Germany had already reached alarming proportions. Many Jews sought to escape, primarily seeking refuge in Palestine, England, or the United States. American anti-Semitism at that time was itself unwelcoming to German Jews. The Lerner Family Circle was organized in the fall of 1935 primarily to facilitate the passage of Morris Lerner and his family to the United States. Their goal was to raise the funds necessary and overcome the bureaucratic obstacles to accomplish the reunification of the Lerner family in the United States. Like the majority of American Jews during the first half of the 20th century, the Lerners lived in New York and New Jersey, centered primarily in Newark. My mother, Ann Shwam Silverman Greiff, served as secretary of the Lerner Family Circle from October 1935 to July 1936.

It was not until my mother passed away in 1990, as I was going through her effects, that I discovered a black, hard-bound notebook engraved simply with the word “Record” on its front cover. The notebook contained the minutes recorded by my mother through a 9-month period in 1935-36. The minutes reveal a historic, tragic tale of family unity and commitment to save Morris Lerner and his family. Since its discovery, the digital age and the Internet have come into prominence. With the help of Dan Silverman, a typist was found to transcribe the 71-pages of my mother’s handwritten text. With Dan’s support, I am pleased to present the digitized transcription of the minutes here.

My mother had an exemplary handwriting and substantial English language skills for a bi-lingual woman with a 7th-grade education. While proofreading the text, however, I exercised the editorial prerogative, to the best of my knowledge, of correcting misspellings to relieve the reader of unnecessary distractions. Ann’s choice of language, however, remains unchanged. For those who wish to examine the original document in her own hand, we are also publishing a PDF file of the scanned, hard copy of the original. We are also posting a chart that graphically illustrates the relationships among the persons identified in the minutes who attended the family circle meetings. The hard copy original itself is secured safely by my son Noah. As you read about finances in the document, it is well to remember that the family circle meetings took place in the midst of the Great Depression.

Regrettably, no record of subsequent meetings of the Lerner Family Circle has survived. Thus I’m obliged to give away the dramatic conclusion of the effort to free Morris Lerner and his family which had not as yet unfolded when my mother’s recordkeeping came to an end. The effort to procure visas for the four members of Morris’s family was abandoned, resulting, shockingly, from resistance by the U.S. State Department to issue visas to the elder Lerners. A new strategy was adopted in which the Lerner sons would be brought to the United States and, upon their safe arrival, a renewed effort would be made to bring over Morris and his wife. Morris’s younger son Martin did successfully immigrate to the U.S. whereas the older son made it safely to Palestine.

Despite the sustained and valiant effort by the Lerner Family Circle, Morris and his wife perished in the Holocaust.

The surviving Lerner descendants already living in the 1940’s recall that the Lerner Family Circle thrived well beyond the years documented in writing. The mood of the family swung radically in the post-war era and could best be characterized as a time of song, laughter, and good cheer.

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THE LERNER FAMILY CIRCLE RECORD
OCTOBER 27, 1935-JULY 5, 1936

October 27 (1935)

Sunday Eve.  The Lerner Family Circle was formally organized with the immediate family group present at the home of Anna and Isidore Laufer.  The members present were as follows.

Sara Lerner
Clara Shwam
Lottie Savitsky
Adolph Savitsky
Rose Fink
Ray Steinberg
Sol Steinberg
Anna Laufer
Isidore Laufer
Lillian Schiesel
Leo Lerner
Lillian Gash
Charles Gash
Ann Silverman
Samuel Silverman
Ida Friedman
Ben Friedman
Rose Cook
George Cook
Mac Schwan
Daniel Shwam
Manny Weiss
Goldie Steinberg
Leroy & Chas. Laufer

The meeting was opened by Sister Sara Lerner with a plea to God to bless us and foster our growth and that success would crown our various purposes for which we were joining.  Brother Lerner was then called upon to explain these purposes and discuss the immediate object and cause of our organization.  In a simple and direct address, he explained the ways and means of bringing Morris Lerner and his family from Germany to America.  This desire, all the members were in deepest accord with, and is in fact, the inspiration for which we organized.  He also expressed the hope and belief that in time, we would develop into a true benevolent society, from which we would all derive great benefit and enjoyment.

            Nomination and elections followed.  These people were elected unanimously in the following order.

Leo Lerner – President.  It will be his duty to conduct our meetings with dignity and order and act in good faith with the L.F.C. at all times.

Ann Silverman – Secretary.  It will be her duty to keep an accurate record of all business conducted on the floor and act in good faith with L.F.C. at all times.

Anna Laufer – Treasurer.  It will be her duty to be responsible for all moneys entrusted to her and to keep a clear record of them.

Clara Shwam and Lottie Savitsky were appointed Trustees.  It will be their duties to assist the treasurer when necessary.  Their signatures will be required on all withdrawals of moneys from the L.F.C. Acct.

Geo. Cook made a motion that Sister C. Shwam be elected Hon.Vice Pres. for the honor of having all her children, which include four daughters, four sons-in-law, and two sons as members of the L.F.C.   This motion was unanimously carried.

Sister Sara Lerner was elected the Honored Mother of the L.F.C. and we all hope that she will be with us for many, many years.

            President Lerner proceeded to new business.  He explained that we would need six hundred dollars immediately for our purpose of bringing the Morris Lerner Family to America.  $500.00 is to cover the cost of passage and $100.00 to cover the cost of borrowing $5000.00 temporarily.  This is necessary, to comply with the rules in applying for visas.  He informed us that Mother Sara Lerner was donating $300.00 and that he personally was donating $100.00 which leaves of balance of $200.00 to be raised by the remainder of the family.
            The following members pleaded themselves to give the following amounts.

Clara Shwam - $ 25.00
Lillian Schiesel - $ 10.00
Mr. & Mrs. Savitsky - $ 15.00
Mr. & Mrs. Steinberg - $ 10.00
Goldie Steinberg & Manny Weiss - $ 5.00
Mac Schwan - $ 10.00
Daniel Shwam - $ 5.00
Leroy Laufer $ - $ 2.00
Chas. Laufer - $ 0.50                                       

Total    $ 82.50

This leaves a balance of $ 117.50 to be raised and pledged by the remaining members.  This was promised to be done at the next meeting.
            An open discussion followed concerning the payment of dues in which all the members took part.  The motion was made by Geo. Cook, and carried unanimously that $1.00 per couple be paid monthly and $0.50 per single member.  Recess was held for the collection of dues. A total of $16.00 was collected.  A motion was made by Ann Silverman that the usual amount of $10.00 be sent to Europe to the Morris Lerner Family from this fund and that one dollar be spent for necessary writing and mailing materials.  This motion was seconded by Anna Laufer and carried.  The cost of mailing the ten dollars to Europe is one dollar (making a total of twelve dollars expense and leaving a balance of $4.00 in the treasury).
            A general discussion of membership then took place.  Sister Schiesel made a request that Jewish he spoken for the benefit of Sister Mother Sara Lerner.  But it was decided that the business on hand would move much faster if conducted in English.  It was suggested that someone sit near her and explain the different matters as they come up.  The question of limiting the members by age was tabled until the next meeting, at which we hope a larger group will be present to decide this question.
            The next discussion was pertaining to where and when to hold our meetings.  It was decided that the last Sunday of each month was convenient.  The motion was made by Ray Steinberg and seconded by Rose Cook. 
             President Lerner requested that all the members make an effort think of ways and means to raise the balance of the required amount of our purpose, and present any plans that they may have for the next meeting.
            A vote of thanks was extended to Sister and Brother Laufer for the very lovely table that they took the trouble to prepare for the gathering.  Sister Savitsky volunteered to have the next meeting, but due to illness, it was changed to the home of Sister and Brother Shwam.  The meeting was adjourned at 10 o’clock and a social hour followed at which a grand time was enjoyed by everybody (note).  The matter of a constitution was tabled until our organization has developed further and we will know along what lines we want our constitution to follow.

Respectfully Submitted
Ann Silverman. Sec.

November 24

Members present were as follows.
Leo and Lilly Lerner
Sara Lerner
Clara and Morris Shwam
Lottie and Adolph Savitsky
Ray and Sol Steinberg
Anna and Isidore Laufer
Rose Fink
Lillian Schiesel
Lillian & Chas. Gash
Ann & Sam Silverman
Ida & Ben Friedman
Rose & Geo. Cook
Goldie Steinberg
Manny Weiss
Moe Savitsky
Esther Neustein
Mac Schwan
Daniel Shwam
Chas. Laufer

November 24

Sunday Eve. A meeting of the Lerner Family Circle was held at the home of Morris and Clara Shwam.  80 Welland Ave., Irvington.  The minutes of the previous meeting were read and a motion made and seconded that they be accepted.  President Leo Lerner called a discussion of old business in order.  The very important matter of bringing Morris Lerner and his family from Europe was the first subject.  President Lerner informed the members that prospects were not as bright as we had anticipated.  Due to the very great restrictions placed upon German Refugees to America, our hopes for immediate immigration were dampened.  The main drawback of attaining our object is the fact that a great amount of cash is necessary to show the government that we are well able to care for the family and they will not be a burden to the community in which they settle.  Although we had made every effort to get all of the affidavits possible in the family and were also prepared to show a bank acct. of $5000.  It seems that this will not be sufficient.
            However, President Lerner tells us that we have every reason to be optimistic and that he will have a further report to make at the next meeting which he sincerely hopes will be more encouraging.  The members all agreed that this work could not be done in a day and that we have every hope and expectation of attaining a reunion of the Lerner Family with his dear ones in this country.  The President was then thanked for his every good work.  Morris Savitsky stated that these difficulties were just spurs to drive us on to success.  The President thanked him.
            Ben Friedman questioned the quota laws.  Pres. Lerner informed him that these laws at the U.S. Government are being overlooked in favor of German refugees just now provided that the other requirements are met.  However these requirementsare so great that there is very little danger of the quota being filled.  Moe Savitsky questioned the exact amt. necessary. Pres. Lerner was not prepared to answer this question at this time.
            The President then called for the pledges of the remaining members who had not pledged for our cause at the last meeting.  The following members pledged as follows.

Anna & Isidore Laufer - $ 15.00
Lillian & Chas Gash - $ 15.00
Anna and Sam Silverman - $ 10.00
Ida and Ben Friedman - $ 10.00
Rose and Geo. Cook - $10.00

Total    $ 60.00

Including $82.50 pledged at the last meeting, totaling $142.50 added to our pledged fund of $400.00 making a grand total of $542.50 of pledged funds.
            We then proceeded to new business.  Ways and means for raising the balance of the money necessary were in order. An open discussion took place in which some good suggestions were made.  Anna Laufer suggested a New Years Party for the entire family as a means of raising money.  Morris Savitsky thought another evening would be more suitable for a party of this sort. Lillian Gash suggested a movie theatre party.  Ray Steinberg informed us from previous experience that there was no profit in it.  Ann Silverman suggested a Jewish theatre party to be held in New York for the entire family.  This plan seemed to find favor with the majority.  The motion that this plan be adopted was made by Clara Shwam and seconded by Rose Cook.  Pres. Lerner appointed a committee of two to bring in a report to the next meeting.  The committee consisted of Lottie Savitsky and Lillian Schiesel.
            A suggestion by Ann Silverman was made that a good way of raising a sum of money at each meeting was to charge 5¢ for a chance on a small gift to be donated each month.  This idea was not in favor at the present time.
            Recess was then held for the payment of dues.  Contributions were given very generously for a member in emergency distress.  President Lerner closed the meeting and a social hour followed which everyone enjoyed.  We now take the opportunity of giving Clara and Morris Shwam a vote of thanks for the very lovely supper table that was much enjoyed by everyone with the exception of Rose Fink who was stricken ill suddenly and was unable to be present in the meeting room. May we also take
this opportunity of wishing her good health from now on and may we never have our gatherings shadowed by sickness or sorrow hereafter.  Congratulations are in order at this time for Adolph and Lottie Savitsky in honor of their son Morris’s marriage to Esther Neustein.  We take this opportunity of wishing the young couple good luck and a happy future.  The young Savitskys have just joined our organization and we hope that they will always be with us, and last but not least we have the great
pleasure of announcing that Lottie and Adolph Savitsky have reached the 25th year of their happy marriage and we wish them every happiness and good health. May we gather together this way for their 50th anniversary. Three cheers for them.
                                                                                               

Respectfully Submitted
Ann Silverman, Sec.

December 29

Sunday Eve. A meeting of the Lerner Family Circle was held at the home of Mr. & Mrs. A. Savitsky, 2866 20th St. Coney Island.  The members present were as follows.
Mr. & Mrs. A. Savitsky
Mrs. Morris Savitsky
Mr. Max Savitsky
Mr. & Mrs. M Shwam
Mrs. Ann Silverman
Mr. & Mrs. Chas. Gash
Mr. & Mrs. Ben Friedman
Mr. & Mrs. G. Cook
Daniel Shwam
Mr. & Mrs. I Laufer
Mr. & Mrs. S. Steinberg
Mr. & Mrs. H. Fink
Mr. & Mrs. S. Schiesel
Mr. & Mrs. Leo Lerner

The meeting was opened by Pres. Leo Lerner.  The minutes of the previous meeting were read and a motion made that they be accepted.  The President then gave us a report on old business.  The report was very much brighter and more hopeful than last month.  He told us that a new set of affidavits had been made out.  The previous affidavits were too weak and of very little help.  With legal aid, an entirely different set has been sent and we all hope that the desired results will soon be evident.  This matter will be explained more fully at the next meeting. In the meantime, the organization takes this opportunity to thank our President for his wonderful work in behalf of his efforts to bring the Morris Lerner family from Germany to America.  Ann Silverman also had a report to make concerning our object.  She succeeded in contacting and interesting an organization called “The Council of Jewish Women” who helps in many ways, the immigration of German refugees. Ann Silverman and Anna Laufer went to this organization in Newark.  They promised to help us in any way possible.  In fact, the head executive wished to come to our meeting in Coney Island to talk to us.  In view of the fact that the weather was very bad that night, she sent a telegram instead and said that she would be glad to come to our next meeting.  However, our President tells us that it won’t be necessary since the new affidavits have been sent to Europe.  Let us hope that we will soon attain our object, but if not, the Council has again assured us that they will help us to proceed with our efforts.
            New Business.  President Lerner then announced that our meeting was also in honor of Mr. & Mrs. Adolph Savitsky’s 25th anniversary and in honor of their son’s marriage to Esther Neustein on Thanksgiving Day.  He voiced the good wishes for health and happiness of the Lerner Family Circle to both couples. Honorary Vice President Clara Shwam had the honor and pleasure of presenting Lottie and Adolph Savitsky with tokens of our affection for them.  Lottie Savitsky was presented with a wrist watch and we hope that all her time may be passed in good health and success.  And Adolph Savitsky was presented with a wallet which we hope he uses in good health and may he always keep it filled with money.  Lottie S. thanked us with much appreciation in behalf of her husband and herself and said it was her great pleasure to be with her family at all times.
            President Lerner then called on the committee for the report on the theatre party.  Lillian Schiesel had taken care of this project.  She explained that she had had to use her judgment by herself because she had the opportunity of distributing the tickets at a family wedding which she attended.  She purchased $100.00 worth of tickets at the cost of $32.50 for Feb. 15, Sat. night.  Although it was a surprise to the Circle to learn that the tickets had already been purchased, it was approved and credit given to Lillian Schiesel for using good judgment.  She questioned whether $5.00 donation be accepted from Tanta Clara.  It was decided that we would accept it and send her tickets if there were any left.  The tickets were distributed amongst the members and here’s hoping that it will be a good success and enjoyed by everyone.  Lillian Schiesel took the largest share of the tickets and we take this opportunity of thanking her for her very good work.
            Max Savitsky who has just become a member questioned whether it was possible to change the day or hour of our meetings, voicing the opinion that Saturday night was better.  It was promised that this matter would again be taken up and decided in favor of the majority.  The matter of a constitution was also tabled until the next meeting.  This matter should be taken up with the members, so that they should all decide along what lines they would like their constitution to follow.  The bylaws of a constitution cannot be changed, so that is important to decide exactly what these bylaws should be.
            Recess was held for the payment of dues.  As usual $11.00 was sent to Europe.  The Treasurer was asked to have a report ready for the next meeting.  Before the meeting was adjourned, the host and hostess were given a vote of thanks for the marvelous supper that was very much enjoyed by all the members and guests of the Lerner Family Circle. We take this opportunity to express our regret for the members who were unable to be present and had to miss a most enjoyable meeting.
            The meeting was adjourned, until Jan 26, 1936 the last Sunday of the month at the home of Mr. & Mrs. S. Steinberg, 131 Schuyler Ave. Newark.

Respectfully Submitted
Ann Silverman, Sec.

January 26 (1936)

A meeting of the Lerner Family Circle was held at the home of Mr. & Mrs. S. Steinberg, 131 Schuyler Ave. Newark.  The meeting was attended by the following members.

Mr. & Mrs. Leo Lerner
Mrs. Sara Lerner
Mr. & Mrs. M Shwam
Mr. & Mrs. I. Laufer
Mr. & Mrs. S. Steinberg
Mr. A. Savitsky
Mrs. Rose Fink
Mr. & Mrs. C. Gash
Mr. & Mrs. S. Silverman
Mr. & Mrs. B. Friedman
Goldie Steinberg
Manny Weiss
Mac Schwan
Daniel Shwam

President Lerner opened the meeting with the request that the minutes be read.  A motion was made and seconded that they be accepted.  Old business was then in order.  The President asked for a report on the theatre party.  The chairman of the committee, Lillian Schiesel was not present, but a discussion took place in which it was decided that all the tickets that had not been sold as yet, were to be mailed to her, not later than Feb. 8th.  The tickets seemed to be going fairly well and we have every hope of having a success.  The President requested that if there was any member who had cash for tickets, they would please turn it over to our Treasurer as we wish to return it to Mother Sarah Lerner who had laid out the initial payment for them.  This was done during the payment of dues.
            The President then gave a general report on our project of bringing the Morris Lerner Family to America.  He explained that due to the fact that the second batch of affidavits were so much stronger, that there was every likelihood of hearing a good report very soon.  In fact there had been mail from Germany in which Morris Lerner informed him that the affidavit had reached the consul’s office and he had been interviewed, but because some of the names of the signers were strange to him, he could not explain the relationship properly and was writing for information.  This was perfectly natural as a member of Lilly Lerner’s family that had undersigned a $3000.00 affidavit and was absolutely unknown to him.  He has yet to have the pleasure of meeting our charming Mrs. Leo Lerner and her family.  With this affidavit and also President Lerner’s affidavit showing a bank acct. of $2200.00, we expect that the second interview, with the consul which is to take place about Feb. 17 will culminate to a successful close and the Morris Lerner Family will be given the necessary visas.  Which brings us to the all important matters of our pledges.  President Lerner reminded us that as our work of bringing the Lerner Family to America draws on, the time of making our pledges good draws nearer.  He urges that we all bear in mind that the time will soon be here in which it will be necessary to collect them.
            The President asked that new business be called to order.  A general discussion took place on the matter of a constitution for our organization.  Morris Shwam suggested that we wait for about 3 months and then work on this matter.  He said that as we had organized for the one purpose, we should wait and see how we would proceed later on.  This did not meet with the approval of the general membership.  The President explained to such members that had not attended our first meeting that we had organized for more than one purpose, and when this purpose was accomplished we would proceed along other lines.  In the meantime, a constitution was necessary and would be a great help in deciding along what lines we would follow.  The members agreed with this. Lillian Gash suggested that as it takes quite a little time to work out a constitution, and that it would be necessary to see other beneficial society’s constitutions, we should get started at once on this work.  Mac Schwan volunteered to get the proper information and asked that he be permitted to select his own committee to help him with this work.  He was given permission to do this and he selected Lillian Gash and Ann Silverman.  They will meet during the month and present some sort of constitution with which the membership can work on.
            Recess was then held for the payment of dues.  As usual, $10.00 was sent to Germany and one dollar for cost of mailing.
            President Lerner asked for a report from Treasurer Anna Laufer.  This was given and accepted.
            We now take this opportunity of thanking our Host and Hostess of the evening Ray and Sol Steinberg for the very lovely supper which was enjoyed by all the members and guests.  The meeting was adjourned by President Lerner at 11 o’clock.
            A social period followed which was immensely enjoyed by all those who remained to participate in it.  Mac Schwan entertained the guests and a good time was had by all.  We also take this opportunity to voice regret for the members who were unable to attend on account of ill health and sincerely hope that they will all be with us at the next meeting which will be held at the home of Leo and Lilly Lerner, 1950 Andrews Ave., Bronx NY on Sunday Feb 23.
Respectfully Submitted
Ann Silverman, Sec.

February 23

Sunday Eve. A meeting of the Lerner Family Circle was held at the home of Pres. & Mrs. Leo Lerner 1950 Andrews Ave., Bronx and was attended by the following members.

Pres. & Mrs. Leo Lerner
Clara Shwam
Isidore & Anna Laufer
Sam & Ann Silverman
Lottie & Adolph Savitsky
Lillian Gash
Ida Friedman
Rose Cook
Moe & Esther Savitsky
Mac Savitsky
Mrs. Lillian Schiesel
Mother Sara Lerner
Leroy Laufer

There were also guests present who were heartily welcomed by all.
            The minutes of the previous meeting were read and a motion made by Lillian Gash that they be accepted.  Seconded by Sam Silverman. Pres. Lerner then asked for old business.  A report on the theatre party was made by Lillian Schiesel, Chairman.  The theatre party was held Feb. 15, Sat. Night and was a success due to the hard work of the chairman and members.  The members that were present turned in their money and remaining tickets.  However, the chairman was unable to give a complete report on account of some members being absent and the money outstanding.  The final report will be given at the next meeting.
            Pres. Lerner took time out to reprimand the Sec. for not sending notices of the meeting by mail to all members.  He requested that this be done at all times.  The Sec. promised to do so.
            Pres. Lerner called for a report from the committee on the constitution.  Lillian Gash made the report in the absence of the chairman, Mac Schwan, who was unable to be present.  However he had a working copy of a constitution that was presented to the members.  A discussion took place in which it was decided that we table this matter for the present until a larger membership would be assembled at the next meeting.  It is very important that all members be present so that each one should have a voice in the matter of what rules and regulations we should abide by.
            Pres. Lerner then made a report on the matter which is nearest our hearts. He informed us that mail had come from Germany in which Morris Lerner had explained that he needed $30.00 for visas.  He expected to get them for himself, his wife and son.  The oldest son is going to Palestine and it will be necessary to provide visas and passage for 3, not 4 people.  Mother Lerner and President Lerner send this money immediately on their own responsibility.  The members all agreed that good judgment was used in this matter as any unnecessary delay would have been very unwise.  The cost was thirty five dollars for the visas, $1.50 for sending it by radio, bringing the total amount to $36.50 which was taken out of the proceeds of the theatre party profits.  Mother Lerner expressed her faith that the Morris Lerner Family would soon be with us.  She said that as soon as they would arrive, she would make the Circle meeting and it would be a most momentous occasion.  We are all looking forward to this great reunion with all our hearts and with God’s will it should soon be here.
            Pres. Lerner is waiting to receive word from Morris Lerner as to whether he has successfully procured the visas.  If he has, the Pres. will immediately inform the Secretary and she will notify each member to make good their pledge at the next meeting. As there was no further old business, the Pres. proceeded to new business.
            Anna Laufer suggested that we increase the membership of the circle.  There are a number of people who are related that might be interested in joining.  In an open discussion that took place, it was decided that this matter be taken up at a later date when our constitution will be completed.  In the meantime, it was felt that any new members would not be vitally interested in our cause and would only result in conflicting interests.
            Lillian Gash made a motion that our regular date of every last Sunday of the month be changed to every last Saturday night of the month.  It seems that some of our younger members felt that Saturday night would be much more convenient.  It was decided that this new meeting might be tried and if proving more successful than Sunday, it would be permanently adopted.  The motion was seconded and carried. There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 11 o’clock.
            We now take this opportunity of giving a vote of thanks to our charming host and hostess, President Lerner and Lillie Lerner for the delicious dinner that was served and very much enjoyed by the members and guests.  The members that did not attend, certainly missed a lovely time and we hope that they will be with us at the next meeting, which will be held at the home of Mr. & Mrs. S. Shiesel, 200 E. 7th St, NYC, Sat Night, Mar. 28 at 7:30 o’clock.  Mrs. Rose Fink will be in Co-Hostess of the evening. Hoping that all is well with everyone and that there will be 100% attendance.
Respectfully Submitted
Ann Silverman, Sec.

April 4

Saturday Eve. A meeting of the Lerner Family Circle was held at the home of Mr. & Mrs. S. Schiesel, 200 E. 7th N.Y.C. at 7:30 o’clock.  It was attended by the following members.

Mother Sara Lerner
Clara Shwam
Anna Laufer
Ann Silverman
Ida Friedman
Rose Cook
Adolph Savitsky
Lottie Savitsky
Rose Fink
Lillian Schiesel
Sol Schiesel
Leo Lerner
Lillian Lerner
Ray Steinberg
Sol Steinberg

Mrs. Rose Fink was co-hostess of the meeting and assisted Lillian Schiesel in every way.
            The meeting was called to order.  The minutes were read and a motion made that they be accepted.  The Pres. called old business to order.  The final report was given on the theatre party.  A total of $39.50 profit was made of which $7.00 is still outstanding.  This was promised to be paid up soon.  Treasurer Anna Laufer gave a report on the finances of the Circle up to date.  The report was accepted as read.  A bank account was opened in the name of the Circle and a motion was made that only one signature of our two trustees be necessary upon withdrawal of any funds.  This was done because both trustees do not live in the same town with the Treas. and should a withdrawal of funds be needed in an emergency, it would be very inconvenient to get both signatures.  This motion was made by Ida Friedman and seconded by Clara Shwam.  There was also a motion made by Lottie Savitsky that Mother Lerner be paid back the money that she laid out for the theatre tickets.  This motion was seconded by Rose Fink and passed.
            The matter of a constitution was again tabled for the next meeting at which it was hoped that a larger majority would be present.
            Pres. Lerner announced that having been asked to give a complete report on our project of bringing Morris Lerner and Family to America, he was prepared to do so.  He was forced to tell us that the outlook was dark on account of the latest developments.  As has been reported before in this record, the affidavits of the immediate family were far too weak and our President succeeded in getting affidavits from friends and influential people.  He himself showed a bank acct. of $2000.00 which was borrowed at a cost of $55.00, Lilly Lerner’s family showed $3000, and 5 pieces of property. (Uncle Issy Rosenstock).  There were altogether 14 affidavits from responsible people.  President Lerner was able to prove by statements of banks and so forth that his business was worth between $15,000 and $20,000 dollars.  He had also sent all receipts of money sent previously to Morris Lerner to prove that we had assisted him financially for years.  He had gone to Washington to see someone who might be of influence.  He was accompanied by his lawyer, but only succeeded in learning that what was needed was cash money and at least about $20,000 of it.  In order to issue 4 visas to a family, the consul would have to be convinced that there was plenty of wealth to take care of them.  Mail was read from Morris Lerner in which he says to try to borrow about $20,000 for a while to be able to show, but of course he does not realize how impossible that is.  The President feels that he has done everything in his power and has tapped every resource available.  He has already gone to the expense of $ 130.00 which he claims he wishes no return of.  $55.00 for the loan of $2000, $45.00 expenses for himself and lawyer to Washington and $30.00 fee for his lawyer, totaling  $130.00.
            We had learned too late that originally our mistake was in asking for a complete family of 4 people.  The restrictions upon issuing visas have become greater each day.  We do not know exactly how much cash it is necessary to show in order to bring them, but it is certain it is a great deal more than we can possibly ever show.
Ann Silverman gave a report in which she gave a few facts about the almost impossible task of procuring visas for the entire family.  She got these facts from the Council of Jewish Women in Newark and Pres. Lerner asked her to go to them for further help, but explained that the only way in which they can really help is in showing us a way to show more cash money amongst the relatives of Morris Lerner.  All the other suggestions had already been carried out.  In a general discussion that followed it was agreed to suggest to the Lerner family that either the boys be sent to Palestine and they come here, or else to send the boys here and the parents join them in the future.
            The Pres. asked Lilly Schiesel to write and suggest this proposition.  If he answers favorably by the next meeting we will proceed along those lines.  In the meantime, Pres. Lerner says that the only thing that remains to be done is to see certain people who may be of help.  He will try to get help from Congressman Sirovitch who has aided many people in this respect.  Sol Schiesel claims to know this congressman and will arrange to see him with Pres. Lerner before this next meeting.  He will also see Leon Scharf, a man who is known to be the intermediary in these cases and try to get some help from him. Let us hope that they may be able to throw some light on our difficulties and that our efforts may not go unrewarded. (Pres. Lerner also visited the Hebrew Org. but they gave no hope unless very much stronger assets could be shown.)
            Ida Friedman & Rose Cook volunteered to be the next hostesses.  A general discussion took place on the subject of changing the meetings back again to Sundays.  In view of the fact that the attendance was very poor at this meeting, held on Sat night, the majority voted to switch back again to Sundays.  Most of the husbands cannot attend Sat. nights and it is also known, that parties, dances, and most social affairs usually take place on Sat. nights, therefore keeping the younger element from attending the meeting.
            We now wish to extend a vote of thanks to our host & hostesses of the evening Mr. & Mrs. S. Schiesel & Mrs. Rose Fink.  The refreshments were very much enjoyed by all, especially the delicious cake baked by Rose Fink.  Everyone joined in the fun that followed the meeting and a hilarious time was had by all.
            The next meeting will be held at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Ben Friedman, 39 Irving Ave. Newark, Sunday Eve., April 26 at 6 o’clock.  Mr. & Mrs. Geo. Cook will be co-host & hostess.

Respectfully Submitted
Ann Silverman, Sec.

April 26

Members present were as follows,
at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Friedman
Mrs. Sara Lerner
Mr. & Mrs. Morris Shwam
Mr. & Mrs. A. Savitsky
Mr. & Mrs. Schiesel
Mrs. A. Laufer
Mr. & Mrs. Steinberg
Mr. & Mrs. Leo Lerner
Mr. Max Savitsky
Mr. Mac Schwan
Mrs. Daniel Shwam
Mr. & Mrs. Gash
Mr. & Mrs. Silverman
Mr. & Mrs. Friedman
Mr. & Mrs. Cook

April 26.  A meeting of the Lerner Family Circle was held at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Ben Friedman, Irving Ave. Newark, Sunday Eve at 7 o’clock.  Mr. & Mrs. Geo Cook were co-host & hostess of the evening.  The President was occupied with Miss Glazer of the Council of Jewish Women and in his absence The Honorary Vice President opened the meeting.  She appointed Mac Schwan as Chairman to assist her.  The minutes were read and a motion made that they be accepted.  The Chairman asked for reports on old business.  Sol Schiesel gave a report on the matter of seeing Congressman Sirovitch at his club in reference to giving us aid in obtaining passports for the Lerner family.  He reported that he was unable to reach the Congressman as he was out of town.  However, he said that around election time, he was sure to be in town and that he would surely see him at that time and would be given some information.  Lillian Schiesel reported that as yet no answer was received from Brother Lerner in reference to the fact that we wished to know his reaction to the knowledge that he must separate his family.  She said that his answer was unduly delayed and that she was worried, having always received prompt replies heretofore.
            The chairman accepted both reports and called for a recess to pay dues.  After recess we proceeded to ways and means.  The Chairman asked for suggestions for raising a few dollars.  Clara Shwam suggested that we each have a card party in our own homes.  This was discussed, but not received favorably.  Anna Laufer suggested giving donations in the form of a pledge and anyone giving such a donation would be entitled to some small treat such as a luncheon from part of the funds.  This idea is carried out in numerous organizations and is very popular way of raising money.  Ann Silverman suggested a picnic for the entire family at which admission could be charged and some money raised.  Geo. Cook, said that transportation to the picnic grounds would be too much of a problem.  Adolph Savitsky said that he believed that a tax levied on each member would be the best way to get some extra money without any trouble on anyone’s part, and that we had time to do that when we needed the money, and that in the meantime there was no necessity of raising any more money to keep in the bank balance than what we needed to send monthly.  The Chairman asked that we table all these suggestions for the next meeting and discuss them again when we had definite knowledge of how & when we were to proceed with our work.
            The Chairman asked for a report on the constitution that he had prepared for the circle to work on.  Unfortunately the Secretary had neglected to bring it with her and it could not be discussed at this time.
            The Chairman then suggested that we give President Lerner a rising vote of thanks for all the time, effort and money that he has expended in behalf of our work and for which he wishes for not return.  This was heartily given although he was not in the room at the time.
            President Lerner announced that he and Miss Glazer were now ready to make their report.  Miss Glazer was presented to the group by Ann Silverman who is associated with her in the Council of Jewish Women.  President Lerner took over the meeting and Miss Glazer gave us a talk and expressed everything very clearly and to the point.  She explained that there was no need to get discouraged or think that we must give up.  But we must proceed along entirely different lines.  To get passports from the American Consul is the hardest thing to tackle.  She suggests that he or possibly he and his wife get passports from the British Consul to England and from there to travel to Nassau, an island in the West Indies.  From there, there would be no difficulty in getting passports to America as the Council would be able to help with their influence.  Miss Glazer says that it would not be so much and that we would surely have success.  She says also that in asking for passports, we must stress the fine moral character of the applicant as that is what counts.  We need no lawyers or politicians as they are of no help.  She said that Canada was out of the question.  She also spoke of the Kerr Coolidge Bill which is at present before Congress and is unfavorable to all aliens.  She asked that we all write to our representatives and asked they veto this bill for the sake of the many innocent foreigners that would be deported if this bill were passed.
            President Lerner thanked her for her kindness in trying to help and she left us to face the new situation and give our thought to her suggestions.  A general discussion took place in which it was decided that we can take no action of any kind until we hear from Morris Lerner and know how he wishes us to proceed.  Mother Lerner then asked for the floor and gave us a very touching speech of
how much pleasure she gets from the fact that we are all working together for such a cause and how gratified and proud she was of all of us.  She was applauded and I’m sure that all the members were inspired to feel that if we could make her so proud and happy, then indeed our year of work was not wasted and that we will continue to try and succeed in our effort to realize her heart’s desire, which is to be reunited with her eldest son and family, while God still spares her and which we hope will be for many years to come.
            President Lerner asked for a report from the Treasurer A. Laufer.  She gave the following report.  $11.00 sent to Germany as usual and a balance of $15.75 in the bank.  The report was accepted as read.  The meeting was then adjourned and was followed by a social hour which was enjoyed by all. At this time, we wish to give Ida & Ben Friedman & Rose and Geo. Cook for the wonderful meal which was heartily enjoyed by everyone, a vote of thanks for their grand hospitality.  They sure are good cooks for such youngsters and we must give them great credit.  Ann Silverman volunteered to be the next hostess and the next meetings will be held at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Sam Silverman, 76 Chester Ave., Irvington.  Sunday May 31.

Respectfully Submitted
Ann Silverman, Sec.

May 31
 
A meeting of the Lerner Family Circle was held at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Samuel Silverman, 76 Chester Ave., Irvington.  Members present were as follows.

Mr. & Mrs. Leo Lerner
Mrs. M. Shwam
Mr. & Mrs. I. Laufer
Mr. & Mrs. A. Savitsky
Mr. & Mrs. S. Steinberg
Mr. & Mrs. S. Schiesel
Mrs. Rose Fink
Mr. Mac Schwan
Mr. Dan Shwam
Mr. & Mrs. Gash
Mr. & Mrs. Silverman
Mr. & Mrs. Friedman
Mr. & Mrs. Cook

The minutes were read and a motion made that they be accepted.  Pres. Lerner then took the opportunity of complimenting the secretary upon her good work and also upon the occasion of her 10th wedding anniversary.  Sec. Ann Silverman expressed the fact that she was grateful that her efforts were so much appreciated and also thanked the Circle for their sincere good wishes on her anniversary.  Mr. Silverman also expressed his thanks.
            The President then proceeded to old business.  Once again the matter of the constitution was tabled.  A report was asked for from the Treas. and given.  It was decided that a finance meeting be held sometime during the month at which the trustees were to go over the book and bring a report to the next meeting.
            Pres. Lerner then gave a report on the latest action upon the matter of Morris Lerner and family immigration to America.  Mail was received from the Dept. of State to the President’s lawyer in which the answer to our request for reasons for the refusal of visas to the family were given.  A long and detailed acct. was given of which I will hereby relate the gist of the matter.  Mainly, they charge that the funds shown by the family were insufficient.  They give a detailed acct. of the respective health of Morris Lerner and his wife in which they find various diseases and explain that due to the condition of the couple, they would eventually become public charges, as the funds shown would be inadequate to care for them completely.
            Pres. Lerner expressed the thought that these reasons were merely excuses and had not these defects been found in the health of the persons concerned, some other reasons would be found.  Upon receipt of this letter the Pres. called upon the Council of Jewish Women in New York, the organization that we had had in contact before and was told that considering the fact that four people were asked for and the refusal was given due to the health of the elders and no mention made of the younger, then we should proceed to ask for the boys and perhaps later, there would be a better chance of the parents joining the children.  A letter to that effect was sent by the Council to the American Consul and an answer is eagerly awaited.  Lottie Savitsky suggested that one boy be asked for at a time and perhaps the chances would be better, but it was agreed that it was best to try for both boys.
            Mail was received from Germany in answer to Lilly Shiesel’s letter in which she told Morris Lerner the difficulties of bringing the entire family and asked him his thoughts on this subject.  His long delayed answer is that he was willing to separate from his family and come alone.  Unfortunately the decision no longer rests with him and some excuse will be offered to him as reason for getting the boys out of Germany first.
            Pres. Lerner then called for a recess to collect dues.  After the dues were collected and the report from the treasurer given, the Pres. said he would have to say a few words on the subject of the monthly remittance of $10 sent to Germany that Mother Lerner had asked him to say.  She felt that it was totally inadequate to care for a family of 4 and that an effort should be made to increase this amount.  This does not mean increasing the dues, but merely that there would be no balance or very little balance left each month from the collection of dues. About $17.00 is collected each month of which heretofore $10 was sent at a cost of one dollar.  It was agreed, after a discussion amongst the members, that Mother Lerner was wholly right in this respect and hereafter a sum of $15.00 will be sent each month including the cost of mail.  It was decided to ask Mother Lerner for all the receipts that she had on hand so that we may make a record of them.  Lillian Schiesel said that she would tell Mother Lerner and would have them for the final meeting.
            A discussion took place on the subject of how to arrange to pay dues for the ensuing three months of the summer in which meetings will not be held.  Lillian Gash suggested that at the next meeting the members pay up for the 3 months, but this was not agreed upon.  Some method of collection will have to be arranged and a chairman appointed for that purpose.  This matter was tabled until the following meeting which will be the final one of the fiscal year and will take place at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Chas Gash, Irving Ave., Newark, the last Sunday of June.
We now take the opportunity of giving the usual thanks to Mr. & Mrs. Sam Silverman for the meeting and refreshments that were enjoyed.
            The meeting was adjourned until the last Sunday of next month.

Respectfully Submitted
Ann Silverman, Sec.

July 5

A meeting of the Lerner Family Circle was held at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Chas Gash , 39 Irving. Newark.  The meeting was attended by the following members.

Mr. & Mrs. Chas Gash
Mr. & Mrs. Morris Shwam
Mr. & Mrs. S. Steinberg
Mrs. A. Laufer
Ms. H. Fink
Mr. & Mrs. Geo Cook
Mr. & Mrs. Ben Friedman
Mr. & Mrs. Sol Shiesel
Mrs. Sara Lerner
Mr. & Mrs. L. Lerner
Mr. Max & Dan Shwam
Mrs. S. Silverman

The Treasurer was asked for a full and final report of the entire year.  It was given and found satisfactory and accepted.  The President then spoke and summed up our work for the entire year and on the whole, it was agreed that we had accomplished a good deal toward our purpose and although we did not succeed as yet, there was no reason to give up hope and that we would continue our work and keep right on trying.  He reported that the National Council had advised that in view of the fact that the American Council had refused visas for the elder Lerners, that we write and apply for the Lerner Boys, for which they had no excuse in their lengthy document that was sent from their office.  A letter was sent to Germany.  No reply has been received as yet and a second letter has followed the first.  If we get a satisfactory reply, we hope to get the boys here and perhaps there will be more chance for getting the parents to join the children. The President also reported about a new contact in Canada.  However it would take a great deal of money and further details on this matter will be given later.
            Mother Lerner then asked for the floor.  She made a very touching speech in which she thanked us all for our efforts and especially made mention of Clara Shwam’s children and praised them highly, for which they were duly gratified.
            Anna Laufer then asked for the floor.  She spoke once again of our constitution and how important it was to get this matter settled.  This was agreed upon as so many important details such as delinquent members, enlarging our membership and many other vital points must be decided upon.  It was decided to wait for the opening of next year’s meetings and then our constitution committee would definitely work these things out.  We already have a constitution which was procured by Mac Schwan, but we must work it out along the lines our Family Circle wish to follow.
            Recess was then called for collection of dues. $15.00 was collected as usual.  A discussion took place in which we decided how to collect the dues for the summer months when we would not meet.  Clara Shwam, Vice Pres., will collect the dues from the Newark members and Lillian Schiesel will do the collecting for the New York members.  Both will see that the money gets to Mother Lerner who will take care of the mailing.
            Mother Lerner once again requested that Jewish be spoken on the floor.  Much as we would like to accommodate her in this respect, it was decided that the business of the meeting would be considerably slowed up on account of the inability of some of our younger members to speak the language fluently. However, it would not hurt if those who can speak Jewish well, would do so, as we all understand it and Ray Steinberg should sit near Mother Lerner and interpret those who must speak in English.
            The meeting was then adjourned with best wishes from all the members to all the members for a very happy summer and may we all meet again next year for a bigger and better Family Circle.
            A delicious supper followed the meeting and a most enjoyable social hour was enjoyed by all.

Respectfully Submitted
Ann Silverman, Sec.

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