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Submitted by Karen Isabel Sanders

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Information Picture Question
Category: Translation - Russian
Approval Date: 4/3/2013 4:39 PM
Family Surname: Levit
Country: Ukraine
Town: Stavishche
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This is a page from a book, written by a relative, that describes my great grandfather Nissan Leib (commonly known as Leib.) It is supposed to describe family details and names of people in my family. I tried using several online translators, but got a mess that wasn't understandable.
A translation would be very, very appreciated.

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On  Response 
4/3/2013 9:48 PM Here's a start:

A village blacksmith

My father, Isaak L'vovich Levit, was born to the family of the village blacksmitn, Lev Iosifovich, in the village of Stavishche, Kiev district, on 21 December 1879. I note that on exactly this day, month, and year was also born Stalin. My father mentioned this coincidence at a meeting [?perhaps we should know what this "meeting" is, it may have been a regular meeting of a local governing board]. It came to me that I should advise my father to "forget" his birthday, for in those times such a thing could end tragically for him. "The leader of the people" could not have been born on the same day as an ordinary person. To identify oneself with "the leader", even just by being born on the same date, would be inadmissible.

(If you would like me to complete this, please let me know - but perhaps someone else could do it faster or better, my Russian is a bit rusted over by Bulgarian!)

4/5/2013 6:53 AM Continuing where the previous translation left off:

The name Isaac is from the civil documents, but the Jewish name was Itzhak. Ukrainians called him Itzko. The family of this village blacksmith was surprising to the Jews - since in ancient Judaism, those with the name Levi were at the highest levels of power and played an important role in the establishment of a Jewish state.

The village blacksmith Lev Iosifovich was respected not only among the Jews but also among Ukrainians. Everyone loved him - adults, children, even animals. The blacksmith was needed by everyone in the village, but they were also wary of him - he was incredibly physically powerful. There was a legend in the village: one time, an angry bull got free, killed a dog, injured a horse, and broke a wagon. The blacksmith came up to the bull, scratched it behind the ear, took it by the ring in its nose, and brought him to his place in the barn. With respect to horses, every temperamental horse, every young horse, who were brought to the blacksmith shop were relatively calm in the powerful hands of the blacksmith.

Lev Iosifovich did not want to teach his only son blacksmithing (Itzhak could a lot anyway, since he helped his father since childhood), but decided to give him a more prestigious profession of a mechanic. But destiny made things different.

Thing is, the blacksmith shop and the house were in the Pale of Settlement, in a Ukrainian village. In the beginning of 1900 the blacksmith shop was broken, and the family was resettled in a "mestechko" (small Jewish village). The blacksmith, having lost everything, soon died. His wife Kejla, daughters Bejla, Shiva (an incredibly pretty young woman), and Fejga moved to the mestechko.

This and similar "beauties" of the life under the tsar - pogroms, percentages (i.e. that a lot of places/institutions could have only a certain % of Jews), prohibitions against government service and being an officer in the army, marriage with non-Jews, and many other limitations for the Jews, in reality, limited their civil rights.

All attempts by father and his sisters to somehow better their lives came to nothing. They did not have any professional skills. A longstanding antisemitic policy of the tsar forced the sisters to immigrate to the US.

However, my father could not go to America for two reasons. First, he was already married by that time, large family, little children, and a difficult financial situation. And second, he did not want to be a shopkeeper and did not know how to do it. My father grew up in the blacksmith shop (but did not inherit it). From childhood, he loved horses and knew how to care for them. It's not difficult to understand, why he decided to become a "driver" (I don't know the English translation of the word, but essentially a cab driver but on a horse). To have his own horses, to be a cabby, and a porter - this remained for him, in those circumstances, probably the only way to provide for his family.
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