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CORRESPONDENCE ABOUT DROHITCHIN IN HAMELITZ

Hamelitz, vol. 40, 18 Cheshvan, 5673 [should be 5643]- 1882

Who By Earthquake

Drohitchin (Kobrin district, Horodna region)

"Suddenly fear gripped our town on Friday, October 1. Groups of gentiles were in the taverns on one of their holidays to enjoy themselves and drink wine along with railway workers who worked on the railroad near town. After they drank themselves into a stupor, they departed at 10 am and approached the store of a Jew, where they began beating him with their fists. As soon as the Jew realized they were finished, he ran outside shouting for help from other Jews in town. The gentiles ran after him and started calling the gentiles. What soon developed was a virtual war; the gentiles came after the Jews with heavy sticks and injured three of them. One man, who came out to look for his son who disappeared during the melee, was grabbed and beaten viciously until he collapsed at their feet. Many of our brethren were lightly injured because the rioters spread through town and struck any Jew they encountered. Unfortunately, we had no police in town because they had all gone off to the nearby town of Khomsk for market day. Thus, the rioters realized they had the opportunity to do anything they wished. The scandal continued until 1 pm, when it subsided because the rioters heard that General Oninikov, who was responsible for the railway, was expected in town. Who knows what would have happened to us otherwise. My fingers tremble from fear as I write these words."

Yechezkel, son of Y. L. Valevelsky

[photo caption: Tordos Leib Milner with his "Hebrew School" before World War I in Drohitchin]

Hamelitz, vol. 18, page 282, 1883. Correspondent Valevelsky

"I am complaining about the battle against the situation of the new false messiah [ Shats – abbreviation for Shabtai Zevi] . Every day we hear the sounds of broken window glass. One person who supports the young new messiah with a charming voice, and the other rejects the new one because of devotion to the old one. I am complaining that there is no expert doctor in town." [trans. This appears to be some kind of cryptic message describing the events that occurred between Jews and gentiles].

"Mr. Yechezkel Valevelsky reports that through the efforts of the scholar, Mr. Yitzchak Rosenkrantz, the Jewish residents of the city obtained permission to open a school for Jewish youth." Hamelitz, Vo. 59, 1883.


[ Page 19 ] Hamelitz, Vol. 60, 1883.

On the second of the month of Av [August 5, 1883], a decree was issued requiring all Jews who lived in the villages in the district of Kobrin to prepare to leave their homes on the following Sabbath and come to the city. Only with great effort were they able to receive an extension (apparently for about a month), and discovered that there was no truth to the "decree" to expel the Jews, because, in fact, they lived in peace with the farmers who were their neighbors, despite the fact that did arouse jealousy and envy about their wealth and businesses. On the contrary, during the days of the pogroms in southern Russia, the gentiles in the villages prided themselves on the fact that their Jewish neighbors enjoyed protected status."

A correspondent from Khomsk reported the following in the same issue of Hamelitz:

"Yesterday the official (policeman) of Drohitchin (to which our city was linked) assembled the Jews who lived in the surrounding villages, and announced that he received a decree from the commander of the district on July 20 of this year reporting that the commander had received a directive from the acting governor of Vilna to relocate all the Jews from the villages to the city. This was to include those who owned their own homes for twenty three years that were built on land owned by landlords or farmers. The only exceptions were those few who permanently owned land. After intensive weeping and begging, the official agreed to delay the decree for ten days. (Apparently this decree was based on the May 3rd Laws of 1882)."

Hamelitz, Vol. 10, 1885 – Correspondent from Rad.

"Two years ago the government agreed to grant the Jews in our town a permit to open a school for Jewish youth (as I reported in Hamelitz, Vol. 59, 1883 ), but for various reasons the plan was not implemented. Our community didn't have the financial means to either build or rent a building for this purpose. It's already been a year that the government sent a Christian teacher here, but he has done nothing because there is no school. This has been a great embarrassment for us among our Christian neighbors who said this proved that we had no desire to educate our children according to the law, and that all we were interested in was economic exploitation. We heard this repeatedly from the government official.

However, now we are overjoyed that a number of our most respected citizens, Mr. Yitzchak Rosenkrantz and Mr. Aharon Drogitchinsky, decided to provide enough money to open the school on the 24th of this month. There were fifty two students who started, in addition to quite a few girls. Their fine teacher is T. Iskra."

Hamelitz, Vol. 81, 1885, Correspndent from Drohitchin

        "Mr. Yaakov Eliyahu Reichman reports that on Wednesday of last week, the rebbe of Kobrin came to town. One of the rebbe's opponents wrote his family that when the rebbe was walking down the street of the city, he tripped and broke his hand and foot. So his followers rushed here to hear what he would order them to do. The rebbe's family sent his brother here; thank G-d, his health is fine now. His opponents then slandered him in a letter to the city official, saying that someone had come to town to fool people into giving him their money. The official hurried over to where the rebbe was staying, but the rebbe slipped away before the official arrived after hearing the story of how he had been slandered."

Hamelitz, Vol. 39, 1889
Receiving Guests in Drohitichin
        "Someone set up ten beds in his home, and provides meals to the guests."
Correspondent Yehoshua, son of Chirkel Yehudah Berg

Hamelitz, Vol. 17, 1890
Drohitchin, Kobrin District, Horodna Region
        "The number of families is about seven hundred. The Charity Society was established five years ago by the current director and respected elder, R. Moshe Lebendiker, who is commonly known as R. Mosheka Bodya's. This precious person fulfills the precept of 'actions speak louder than words,' because he has devoted his time and energy in his old age for this charitable work. In addition to the 665 rubles he collected as sacred money from private contributions and the estates of a number of individuals, there are another 400 rubles that were deposited as loans from society members, who have each contributed a sum of money as a loan for a period of time. The fund is available to anyone. They receive 1 ruble per week, and anyone wishing to borrow money from the fund must bring along a co-signer."

        "Of no less importance is the Society for Visiting the Sick, which was established three years ago. Its goal is to provide medical assistance to poor people who are ill, medications and nutritious food while they are ill until they fully recover. The funds of the society come from contributions from members, and totals about two hundred rubles annually, in addition to private donations. We wish to publicly pay tribute to our local doctor, Dr. S. Weissman, who made an agreement with the treasurer of the Society to provide assistance and medication to all local poor people for a token monthly contribution."
        "The Hosting Guests Society faithfully fulfills its obligations. Its purpose is to take in poor travelers passing through our city, provide them with a place to stay in a comfortable apartment with freshly made beds, and provide them with bread and food offered at the homes of the Society's members."
         Yechezkel, son of Y.L. Valevelsky

        The gravestones of Drohitichin residents at the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem
        Khelkat Hamekhokek, vol. 2, p. 1, 13; vol. 4, p. 44.
        
"Shaul, son of Yehoshua the Kohen, died in 1869. The respected elder, Zvi Zelig, son of Moshe died on the 15 th of Tevet, 5647 [January 11, 1887]

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