A landsmanshaft (also landsmanschaft; plural: landsmanshaftn) was a Jewish benefit society, or Hometown society of immigrants from the same town or region.

These organizations were set up during the great migration of Jewish people to the United States from the 1880s through 1923. The immigrants could not speak English and often had trouble becoming accustomed to life in the U.S. The landsmanshaftn functioned as a kind of "social clearinghouse" for Jews from shtetls, providing employment as well as aid when sick and burial plots.[1]

The landsmanshaftn encompassed the Jewish burial societies, known as chevra kadisha, and in some instances split off from them to form "independent" societies.[2]

Twenty thousand such organizations once existed in the northeast United States, operating burial plots in scores of cemeteries. Most are now defunct.[3]

These aid organizations were established to deal with social, economic, and cultural problems, and provided a social framework for mutual assistance. In the early 1900's there were thousands of landsmanshaftn in the New York City area, but few if any are active today. While landsmanshaftn were often based around a common region they could also be based on a common political affiliation, such as the Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring (socialist), the International Workers Order (Communist), or the Farband (labor Zionist).

Over time, the landsmanshaftn lost members as they died, and the organizations became defunct. This resulted in difficulties for the relatives of members who died, because the officers of the landsmanshaftn were required to permit burials. Officials of the state of New York have stepped in to be of assistance in such situations.[4]


  1. Weisser, p. 14-23
  2. Weisser, p. 13-14
  3. "With Demise of Jewish Burial Societies, Resting Places Are in Turmoil," The New York Times, Aug. 3, 2009
  4. New York Times


This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Landsmanshaft. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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