woman with covered head in street


Phyllis Cohen, an experienced researcher who regularly offers online courses at JewishGen, explained the background of Landsmanschaft organizations in a handout from her Intermediate Genealogy course:

Landsmanschaften refer to associations of people from the same shtetls or area. It was common in the first half of the 20th century for folks from the same area to gather for social or benevolent purposes. Jews from Eastern Europe settled in northeastern cities, bringing with them the tradition of dues-paying societies that bought and maintained cemetery plots. Besides reducing burial costs, the societies held periodic meetings that became important social events for networking and keeping up with others from similar roots... These societies represented about 20% of the Jewish immigrants. (March 2012)

 JewishGen also provides an Information File on Landsmanschaft groups. 

For the genealogist, finding a Landsmanschaft is helpful for at least three reasons: first, the archive may hold photos, family names or notes about the group's connection to the old country; second, some Landsmanschaften produced Yizkor Books - detailed memorials recording names and community history before the Holocaust; finally, identifying the group's cemetery plot can point to individual gravestones, while a list of all the burials in a plot can be used to identify family connections.

So far, we know of three such groups in the NYC area: the Pogoster Brothers Benevolent Association, the Bereziner Benevolent Association, and the United Family of Moses Joseph (also founded by people from Beresin). Since quite a few Byerazino families immigrated to Rochester New York, it is likely that there was a Landsmanschaft there, too.  


The YIVO Archive holds a set of records for The United Family of Moses Joseph, a Landsmanschaft from Byerazino, dating from 1911 to 1970 (see below, for contents). The records are not digitized, but can be accessed in person at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in Manhattan. 

While we haven’t found a similar archive for either of the other Landsmanschaftn, we do know some of the members’ names.

 Two large photo collages, donated by Ken Kahn, commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Bereziner Benevolent Association in 1937; one shows the male Officers and Executive Committee, the other shows the Officers and Executive Committee of the Ladies' Auxiliary.

A photo of the entrance pillars at the Bereziner Benevolent Association at Beth David Cemetery, Elmont NY was contributed by Beverly Bord. Here are lists of the names on those pillars:

Berezino Officers and Members (male)

Berezino Ladies Auxiliary 

Photos by Robert Ceisler show the entrance pillars at the Pogoster Brothers Benevolent Association plot, also at Beth David. Here is a list of the names on those pillars:

Pogoster Brothers Officers and Members

 Robert Ceisler photographed all the gravestones in the Pogoster Brothers plot at Beth David Cemetery, and put them online for us to share. Click on Pogoster Gravestones at Beth David (below) for a list of the names on those burials:

Pogoster Gravestones at Beth David

Here is a link to Robert Ceisler's page on the Flickr website, where you can view and download photos of individual gravestones:  

The Jewish Genealogical Society of New York has a very helpful website. Their Burial Society Database lists Landsmanschaftn connected to Byerazino and Pahost, as well as information on their burial plots. Here are two charts from their website. 

Three of the cemeteries listed below have online 'interment search' databases that you can search by a person's name, date of burial, or burial society: Mt. Hebron, Mt. Judah,  Mt. Zion ;  Beth David, Wellwood, and Washington do not provide online databases, so they must be contacted by phone. If anyone is planning to visit any of these cemeteries, and has time to photograph the graves in a burial society plot, this would be a great help to fellow researchers.


 To see the names and dates of 180 burials at Mt. Zion, enter the search term "Bereziner" in the 'Society’ field on the Interment Search page.


My copy of the chart (above)  labels the “City” as Pahost-Zaharodzki. Ignore this - the JGSNY has corrected this problem in the new version on its website. To see the names and dates of 68 burials at Mount Hebron, go to the Mt. Hebron search page and enter the term "Pahoster" in the 'Society' field on the Interment Search page. 

Thanks to contributor Howard Blue, we also know that the United Family of Moses Joseph has a plot in the Mt. Judah Cemetery.  Howard supplies the following list of Berezino families buried there: Beslan, Cashdan, Dash, Doktoroff, Ettelson, Feldman, Goldman, Green, Horowitz, Kaufman, Kaye, Klebanoff, Kopeikin, Koppelman, Kranowitz, Lazin, Metz, Putnick, Rosenberg, Rubin, Scheff, Saken,  Schneider, Sternfield, Talvinsky, Schwartz, and Buslovich. The United Family of Moses Joseph also has a plot in New Montefiore Cemetery. That cemetery has an online ‘Locator’ but it can only be searched by name and date of death, not by burial society.  At this time we only know that a member of the Doctoroff family lies there. 

In the 60s and 70s, when the immigrant generation began to pass away, the Landsmanschaftn began finding it difficult to maintain their membership. A two-page letter from the Bereziner Benevolent Association, donated by Beverly Bord, summarizes the group’s history and clarifies the reasons the Association came to an end. 

An article published in the New York Times in 2009, "With Demise of Jewish Burial Societies, Resting Places Are in Turmoil", sums up the current situation and offers suggestions for those who are trying to assert their right to a family burial place, purchased through a defunct burial society.

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Compiled by Carola Murray-Seegert, Ph.D.           Updated February 2020                    Copyright © Carola Murray-Seegert, Ph.D.                     JewishGen Homepage                                  KehilaLinks Directory