“Seta” - Jewish Cities,
Towns and Villages in Lithuania until 1918

(Shat, Lithuania)

55°17' / 24°15'

Translation of “Seta” chapter from
Yidishe Shtet, shtetlekh un dorfishe yishuvim in Lite: biz 1918

Edited by: Berl Kagan


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Acknowledgments

Project Coordinator

Ada Green

 

Our sincere appreciation to Miriam Kagan Lieber
for permission to put this material on the JewishGen web site.

We would like to thank Rabbi Saul Klein and Joe Woolf for help in editing this material.

This is a translation from: Yidishe Shtet, shtetlekh un dorfishe yishuvim in Lite: biz 1918;
Jewish Cities, Towns and Villages in Lithuania until 1918:
Historical-Biographical Sketches. Edited by Berl Kagan, New York, 1991 (Y).


This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.


JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.


[Pages 603-607]

Shat

Translated by Miriam Goldwasser

Shat is situated in the Keidan region. Already in the mid-17th century, a Jewish community existed. In 1679/1680 there was a blood libel against the Jews, initiated by a Christian worker and his wife, provoked and supported by priests. Later the tortured Jews were released.

During the period of the Council of Lithuanian Jews, Shat fell mostly under the Keidan administrative circuit (region). [Joe Woolf's note: Yahadut Lita, Volume III states the circuit of Birzh. Joseph Rosin's version, from Prof. Dov Levin's Pinkhas Kehillot also stated Keidan. Which is correct and how do we find out? Joe Woolf discussed this with Joseph Rosin and it is not clear which years it was under Keidan and which years under Birzh.]

Shat was amongst the very few towns and villages where Karaites had lived for a long period; and in the 18th century a blood libel accusation was initiated against a Karaite man.

The Jewish population in 1847 was 802, in 1897 it was 1135, 1923-440, and in 1935 approximately 400, and before the Holocaust it was also about 400.

Being far from a railway line and a main highway, the economy of the Jewish community was weak. The Jewish occupations were storekeeping, crafts and transport.

On the 13th May 1832, the chairman of the Jewish community submitted a written complaint to the governor general of Vilna regarding the kidnapping of two Jews boys, Yankel Kurlandchik and Pesach Stein, by the district administration for the military draft. They had been taken on the road between Shadova [Seduva] and Vilki [Vilkija].

Between 1842 and 1911 there were 93 subscribers for the acquisition of rabbinical books [Ada Green 's note: these were the names listed in the HaMeir L'Olom prenumerantum list].

In 1860 there was a major fire. In the fire of 1878, 100 homes were destroyed, amongst them the beit hamidrash and the synagogue. The latter was originally built at a cost of 4000 rubles and took three years. The Squire Montvila assisted those who had suffered from the fire. He also pledged to rebuild the guest house, which he built in 1876. The fire of 1892 destroyed 115 houses. [Ada Green 's note: see list of poor victims of the 1892 Seta fire who required financial aid].

During the famine years of 1868-69 in Lithuania, Montvila provided substantial assistance to Shat.

A new public bathhouse was built in 1889, which cost 3000 rubles.

In 1890 the entire Jewish Community attended the funeral of the Squire Montvila's wife. It required a journey of 4 verst from the town [According to The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, a verst is a Russian measure of distance equivalent to 3500 feet or 0.6629 mile or 1.067 kilometers. Joe Woolf mentions that the term verst was mentioned frequently amongst the Shater crowd in Johannesburg.] The chazan Yosef Eliavitz and the synagogue choir sang psalms. It was already 15 years that Montvil had donated money each month for the poor. Before every Pesach he would donate 25 rubles for the maoth chitim fund which provided matzot for needy Jews. A Polish Squire Kaliatkiai also assisted the needy Jews.

On being informed at the last moment that a pogrom was planned for the 29th June 1903, the Rabbi Rabinowitz wrote a plea to the Governor on Shavuot to save the Jews from this pogrom, which was accepted and the pogrom prevented.

*

A Zionist organization was established in 1900 mainly through the efforts of Elchanon Yakov Rittenberg and Betzalel Meitkes, the chairman being Zundel Rabinsohn.

The list of donors from 1900 until 1903, whose contributions helped the settlements in Eretz-Yisrael, contains numerous names of Shat residents, the fundraisers being A.I. Rittenberg and Betzalel Hirsh Meitkis, and in 1903 Itzchak Kurlanchick.

The old cemetery in Jerusalem includes an 1871 tombstone, Duber ben Avraham Segal from Shat.

At the beginning of the 20th century the Bund (an anti-Zionist workers organization) was established, followed in 1903 by the small Bund. On the first yarzheit on a Shabbat of the Kishinev Pogrom, the young men of the small Bund mounted the bima of the synagogue and prevented the cantor from intoning the hanoten tshua (Giver of Salvation) blessing for the Czar.

Rabbis Who Served Shat:

Rav Yosef, great grandfather of Rav Meir-Yakov Ginsburg, who made a deep analytical study into the Biurei Hagra ("The Elucidation by the Gaon Rav Eliyahu") of the Shulchan Aruch Chosen Mishpat. Rav Meir-Yakov was born in 1820, therefore we can assume that his great grandfather Rav Yosef was born around 1770-1780.

Rav Shmuel (Rav Shmuel "the small one")* ben Rav Avraham, brother of the Vilna Gaon.

*[Note from Rabbi Saul Klein: obviously a reference to Shmuel Hakatan who was a noted Talmud Tanna, mentioned in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers).]

Rav Eliyahu ben Rav Yakov Ragoler, who was born in 1794 in Neustadt-Taurage, and like the Vilna Gaon, held the opinion that the Tanach must be studied before the Talmud, and with Rashi's interpretations. After his term as rabbi of Shat, he served as rabbi in Ragole [Ariogala], then for 16 years in Slobodka [Vilijampole] where he established the first large yeshiva, and after that, 10 years in Kalish (therefore he was also known as Rav Eliyahu Kalisher). He died in 1849. His son, Rav David Halosker printed his father's Yad Eliyahu ("Memorial of Eliyahu"), two volumes published in Warsaw, 1900.

Rav Naphtali ben Rav Ephraim. In the book Chemdat Shaul ("Beloved Saul") by Shaul Shapiro printed in Odessa 1903, there is a Responsa from Rav Naphtali, head of beth din (rabbinical court), Shat. There is an approval/approbation from Rav Naphtali, first born son of Rav Ephraim, head of beth din in Shat on the shaas published in Slovita in 1835.

*Ben Yakov comments: Shaar Halakot by Naphtali ben Rav Avraham, head of beth din in Shat, a massive essay concerning the Alfassi - a manuscript. Could it be possible that there were two Rav Naphatali's, or an error has been made regarding the father? But Ben Yakov is known as a perfectionist, and we have found Naphtali ben Ephraim in two books, which requires careful consideration and study.

Rav Meir-Michael ben Shalom Rabinowitz (Rav Michael Shater), who was born in 1830 in Keidan and was the rabbi of Shat for twenty years, had refused to accept a rabbinical post in large towns. After continuous pleas from important persons in Vilna, he agreed to become a teacher-instructor on condition that he would not have to pass legal judgements.

Rav Israel Salanter's son-in-law, Rav Eliyahu Eliezer Grodzenski sent a messenger to Rav Meir-Michael with a plea that he accept the post of rabbi of Dvinsk, but he declined. He was one of the Gedolim of his generation. His modest apartment in Vilna was amongst the homes of the poor, and it was difficult to find his address. He died in Vilna in 1902. He was the son-in-law of Rav Zalman Pinchas (HaCohen) Kaplan, head of the Rabbinical Court in Yezna [Jieznas] and Gelvan [Gelvonai].

Rav Nachum Shapiro, born 1818 in Dukst [Dukstas? or Dukstos?]. Before Shat he was rabbi of Pokroy [Pajuris], Lygumai, Vegeriai and Tryskiai. He died in Shat in 1902.

Rav Bunim ben Natan Nate Silver, was born in Dusiat [Dusetos]. Subsequently rabbi there, as well as in Abel [Obelai], and Kamai [Kamajai].

Rabbi Zev Vulf Avrech, born 1845 in Rietava [Rietavas]. From 1875 he was Rav-Moreh (Rabbi-Teacher) in Pikelen [Pikeliai] and from 1885, head of the beth din in the regional capital, Mazeik [Mazeikiai]. Author of Ravid Hazahav ("The Golden Necklace"), published in Warsaw 1898. Died 1922 in Mazeik.

Rabbi Shlomo Dovid HaCohen Shprintz, born 1846 in Mezritch. He was rabbi in Shat during the early 1890's; before that in Sidra (Grodno Guberniya) from about 1870. Then a number of years in Suprasle (Suwalki district) and from 1880 in Tarleh (Lublin area). Later he was a moreh tzedek in a suburb of Riga, and then from 1897 rabbi of Montreal. Author of Leshed Hashamen, published in Warsaw 1879.

Rav Avraham Drushkowitz, rabbi from 1897 to 1902. Later for ten years a mashgiach (Talmudic teacher) in the Volozin Yeshiva. Author of Shiurei Hoara'a ("Lessons in Rabbinic Law"), published Kovno 1933.

Rav Shlomo ben Rav Meir-Michael Rabinowitz, Rav in Shat from 1903, and died sometime between the years 1930 and 1934. [Ada Green 's note: He died 15 July 1933 (15 Tamuz), age 63, as per his death record in the metrical books of the Kedainiai Rabbinate at the Central Metrical Archives in Vilnius.]

Rav Elchanan Weiner, the last rabbi, "may his blood be avenged".

Outstanding Local Born:

Rav Yehoshua ben Rav Eliyahu Rabinowitz was born in 1818. He was principal of the Kletzk Yeshiva from 1847 and in 1867 also head of the beth din. He was the son of the Gaon Rav Eliyahu Ragoler. Died 1887 in Nesvizh.

Rav Moshe-Itzhak Rabin, born 1834. For 40 years he was the moreh tzedek in Panevezys, and also the head of the beth din there for many years. Author of Miluim LeMoshe ("Capacity of Moshe") published Vilna 1909. Died 1902.

Rav Ben Zion Shater, rabbi-teacher in Vilna in the 1880's.

Mordechai Manes Monashewitz, born 1857. From 1880 lived in Libau, Latvia, where he established a school which existed for 38 years. In 1919 he moved to the United States, where he was a teacher in different cities, ending up in New York. From the 1870's he published poems and stories in Hamelitz, Hatzfira, Hashachar, Ha-asif. Published the story Chatat Hazkeineh Horim or Miriam ("The Sins of our Parents, or elderly Miriam"). Published Warsaw 1884. He also translated the story Nachla Mevuhelet ("Frightened Inheritance") by P. Hoffman, published Vilna 1887. He also wrote dramas for children: Neshef Purim ("Purim Party"), Mincha Chadasha ("The New Gift"), Chana, all published in Krakow and Warsaw 1903. After that he only concentrated on his Hebrew study books. Many editions of his The Practical Grammar, was published in Warsaw 1905 and which became very popular in the Hebrew schools of Poland and Lithuania. The Mirror, published in Vilna 1906; The Good Friend, published in Warsaw 1911; A Short Grammar for Students, published Warsaw 1928; Grammar of Our Language, published Warsaw 1929. He was also the author of The Fables of the Times, New York 1925 and wrote for the Yiddish newspapers Today (Warsaw); The Jewish Daily; and The Jewish Immigrant (both in New York). Authored quite a few Yiddish plays for children. One of them, The Rich Inheritance was performed by "The Vilna Troupe" in 1916. He died in 1927 in New York.

Rabbi Shmuel, first born of Rav Meir-Michael Rabinowitz, was rabbi in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. In the magazine Hazfira ("The Defender") he published complicated geometrical problems. Died 16 Sept. 1925 (27 Elul 5685).

Rav Meir Yitzhak ben Israel Goldberg, born in 1871. From 1899 was rabbi of Ostrovna (Mohilev Guberniya) and from 1907 was rabbi and Dayan in Vitebsk. His father-in-law, Rav Yehoshua Zelig Halperin was head of the rabbinical court in Stoklishok [Stakliskis].

Ephraim Kaplan, born in 1879. From 1904 he moved to New York. Wrote popular articles and historical subjects for different newspapers. Was the editor of the New York Morgen Zurnal ("Morning Journal"). His writings include: 1) Parties and Classes of Israel in the Distant Past; 2) Leaders of the Disapora; 3) Mohammed and the Koran; 4) Jewish Religious Philosophy. He died in 1943.

Y.B.A. Ziv, a Yiddish author, whose given first name(s) are not clear, lived in the latter half of the 19th century. In his books he always stressed that he came from Shat. His writings include: 1) Dr. Yosef Alfassi (Warsaw 1883); 2) The Unfortunate or The Fortunate Esther, a translation (Vilna 1894); The Yeshiva Boy or The Love and the Beauty (Vilna 1898). He also published poems in Hebrew publications.

Respected Members of the Community:

Rav Yakov Glick, Crown Rabbi;

Rav Shaul Katzenellenbogen;

Cantor Iosef Eliovich;

Zalman-Yehuda Vigushin [title unknown];

Nachum Gaddie [title unknown].


Correspondents:

For Hamelitz - Sh. Rabinowitz, Yakov Glick;

For Hazfira - Meir Skarolski of Kovno, Yeshaya Zan;

For HaLebanon - Y.B.A. Ziv.


Bibliography:

Hazfira, 1876: 40

HaLebanon, 1878: 50

Hamelitz, 1890: 51, 218; 1899: 41; 1900: 17, 34; 1903: 31

Hapeles, 1903: 29

The Latest Events, Geneva 1904

The Jubilee Book of the Orthodox Rabbi's Union of the United States and Canada, 1928 (p. 148).

A. Levine, The Cantonists, Warsaw 1934, p. 94

Beit Yakov, Jerusalem, Shvat 1961

The Book of Keidan, Tel Aviv 1977, p. 186, 211

The City of Vilna, p. 196, 277

Ben Yakov, The Treasury of Books, p. 598

Ohalei Shem, p. 58, 293

The Last Generations, Part II p. 298

The Hebrew Sages in America, p. 108

Lexicon, p. 8

G. Karsel, p. 2

Jewish Old Times (in Russian) XI, pp. 228-233

The History of Jews in Lithuania and Zamot, p. 26.

History of the Town of Keidan and its Rabbis, p. 3

The Lawgivers Corner, Booklet 7

Sefer HaPrenumerantm (Hebrew Subscription Lists), 8335

Yahadut Lita, Vol. III

Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. 10, p. 5, 302

Black Book

Bulletin of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland #141, p. 32 (in Polish)


See also:
"Seta" - Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities in Lithuania

"Seta" - Volume I: Lite (Lithuania)

"Seta" - Yahadut Lita (Lithuanian Jewry), Vols. 3 and 4


This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.


JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

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