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[Pages 88-89]

On Taxes and “Honors”

By Shayke Glick

Translated by Judy Grossman

(Translated from Hebrew)

Dr. Soloveiczik, the Minister for Jewish Affairs, sent a circular to all the Jewish communities in which he requested them to immediately begin collecting the community tax. Only those communities whose budget had already been submitted to the ministry and had been approved had the right to collect taxes. The circular was written in Yiddish.

The tax forms were printed in Lithuanian, Hebrew and Yiddish.

(Haaretz, Dec. 14, 1920)[1]

In the statements of the Lithuanian delegates in Paris on the subject of Jewish autonomy, it was stated that the rabbis would have equal rights to the other community leaders. The Lithuanian government decided on sums of money for religious authorities, and seven and a half percent of this sum was allocated for rabbis. This nevertheless has a certain value in principle for the reinforcement of the status of the Jews.

(Haaretz, Dec. 26, 1920)

The leadership in the shtetl was generally in the hands of the synagogue officials. The leader of the community was the rabbi, and community business was obviously run according to his personal qualities. Public institutions were elected together with the synagogue committee. Elections for a new committee took place at an assembly in the synagogue, and the outgoing beadle would give a report on the activities in the shtetl and the financial situation. The elected officials were volunteers, and only the rabbi received a salary. The rabbis had the exclusive right to sell yeast…

Dusiat Community Council Seal

The institutions of the community existed on money that was collected from the Jews of the shtetl, and in this area there were fierce conflicts. The main source of income was the “honors” in the synagogue: “Aliya La'Torah”, “Maftir” - the various readings from the Torah, and so forth. On the eve of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) the synagogue activists and the property owners sat at long tables in the hallway of the synagogue and Jews came and made donations, according to how generous each one was, and I especially remember that they didn't overlook a donation to KKL - the Jewish National Fund.

Additional income was derived from the karovka, the head tax the butchers had to pay for each animal they brought for slaughter. The ritual slaughterer would not slaughter the animal until the butcher had paid his debts to the community committee.

The slaughterer perhaps obtained his position in the community through a tender. Generally speaking the business of slaughter functioned smoothly in the shtetl. The butchers would pay the slaughterer for every head, and he would get a choice portion – “di breyte kishke”… The slaughterer also received a fee for every fowl, and if he was a ritual circumciser, he also received an income from that.

Application for the position of a ritual slaughterer in Dusiat

Kriukai, Monday, the 26th of Tammuz, 1924


To the Community Council in Dusiat

Dear Sirs,

… I am an expert ritual slaughterer, a proper cantor, a prayer reader, blower of the shofar and a ritual circumciser, and have been working as such for six years in the city of Kriukai. I worked as a temporary ritual slaughterer for two years in the nearby city of Zeimelis.

I have certificates from the greatest rabbis of our times.

If the position in your city is still vacant, please be so kind as to answer me and to write the conditions.

Sincerely,
Daniel Ben Zion Yoffe

Rasya Tal (Kagan): When the slaughterer slaughtered a chicken, more than once there was suspicion that it was not kosher [that is something was imperfect]. They would go to the rabbi for a decision. If he determined that it was not kosher, the owner of the chicken had two options: to throw it out or give it to the maid, and so they gave it to the Gentile maid…

Yosef Yavnai (Slep): A Jew who did not strictly adhere to the laws of “kashrut” was calleda treifener halz” (“a non-kosher neck”).


Footnote

  1. The Haaretz newspaper still exists today in Israel. Return


[Page 89]

“Secret Almsgiving”

Translated by Judy Grossman

Shayke Glick: The charity committee “Linat Hatzedek” was in charge of many assistance and volunteer activities, all of them anonymous. A list of pairs of volunteers who cared for the sick was prepared in advance every week, thus helping families to manage. They would sit with the patient during the day and the night, giving them their medication, and when necessary, calling a doctor. I more than once sat with a sick person, and I used to think that the night would never end. But we were raised in an atmosphere of helping others, mutual aid, values that were passed from generation to generation.

Rivka Shteinman (Shub): My grandmother was an absolute saint. She would collect donations and hand them out to the needy anonymously. She would prepare all kinds of dishes and leave the house carrying a covered dish: food for the poor. This act of charity was called “metrogt teplech” (in Yiddish, “carrying pots”). It was a common thing. The women knew who didn't have enough.

Dovid-Leib Aires: Mutual assistance was in our blood. Also in the youth movement one of our ideals was to help others.

There was a charity box in every house, and before lighting the candles on the eve of the Sabbath and holidays, the women used to drop money into these boxes. I remember my grandmother, who was an extremely frugal woman and saved very penny she could. She did not omit a single box before lighting the candles, and I believe that that is how they behaved in every home.

Shmuel Levitt: I loved sweets, and where do you find the money to buy candy? No problem. There are charity boxes in the house, all kinds of charity boxes: “Meir Baal Hanes”, “Linat Hatzedek”, Bride's Fund, Funeral Fund, and so forth, and also theblue box” - for KKL – Jewish National Fund. I prepared special nails, which I used to draw coins out of the boxes, but I never dared to take anything out of the “blue box”! This was sacred money for building up Eretz-Yisrael.

Kaunas, March 11, 1924

To the Community Council of Dusiat

A circular from the director of the Department of Community affairs in the Ministry of Jewish Affairs in the Republic of Lithuania

The circular contains instructions to make a precise record from the Metryka[1] Book, and a warning “to the residents of your city that if you don't register your daughters in the Metryka Books, they will remain without a Metryka, which will cause them many difficulties and obstacles when they grow up.”

Footnote

  1. Metryka - Polish term for birth certificate. Return

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