|Map of the Region
Map of the region, with the community of Molchadz in the center
[Pages 27 - 33]
Translated by Rachel Hickey and Semandar Siegel a. The name and its meaning
The name that is used by the residents of the city and surrounding vicinity is Maytchet. This is the name that appears on the official maps in the period of Old Poland and New Poland, and it is also the Russian spelling. This name came from the river Maytchet, which circled the entire city and flowed into the Molchadaka River. In general, cities and villages were named after geographical locations or historical people or events.
Maytchet was the name that was used by the Jewish residents of the area. The Jews pronounced it Maytchet even though the official name was Molchadz.
This geographic location was a meeting place of different peoples -- Russian, Belarussian, Lithuanians, Tartars, and Polish. Everyone who traveled, even people from far away who were traveling around this area did not avoid this region. Throughout time, these different groups continually fought over who had the right to settle and govern this place. Everyone left behind a remnant of their presence in the cities and the settlements, such as fortresses or castles. And each thing, by their name, represents the times and places from whence they came.
|General view of Maytchet|
Besides our city and the river we mentioned, there were other villages that took the root word of Moldchan. You see it in their names, Molchanuff, Molchanie, Molchanofka, Molchanovue, Molchaska, Hota and Molchanska. There is a geographic dictionary that provides an explanation that these names are connected historically with an earlier Slavic tribe that lived there by the name of Molchan or Milchan, which is mentioned by historians and chronologists.
There is a story about the city that once a high ranking Russian officer who happened to be in the area of Maytchet. He did not know about the place and its name. He sent an aid to ask the residents to ask about the name. When the aid came back the high ranking officer asked, What is the name of the city? He answered Maytchet, which in Russian translates as be quiet. So this officer slapped him on the cheek and asked what is the name of the city. He answered, Maytchet.
b. References on the early period
Historians who have researched the communal lives of the Jews of Poland and Lithuania would go to the lists that were written down in the records of the four countries. This is the source of much of the information we have on this area, but not everything is found in reference to the Lithuanian shtetl of Maytchet.
The most important Jewish source is the book of records of the country of Lithuania, which is the Book of Protocols of the Autonomous Lithuanian Jewish Committee. In 1623 this committee separated from an organization of five countries and became known as the Pinkus Moldina Lita. After this separation it became the committee that was known as the Records of the Four Countries. This book of records is a reliable source of information on the Jews in the community of Lithuania, including economic activities, family life, etc.
In 1623 Pinkus Moldina Lita was split into three regions -- Brisk [Brest], Grodno, and Pinsk. This information was used for taxation and other communal purposes. Maytchet together with all the small towns around it, which were very close to Slonim, was included in the region of Brisk.
In addition to the municipal and administrative rules of Slonim, which was the central city in that period, Maytchet is also mentioned as under their administrative rule. An additional source of information on the Jewish communities is, of course, from the Jewish Encyclopedias, which contain a number of paragraphs on each settlement according to their size. Nevertheless this information is sketchy and contains many generalizations. The information below appears in the Jewish Encyclopedia written in Russian:
In 1765 there lived in the community 369 people who paid taxes. Today it is in the territory of Grodno, which is in the vicinity of Slonim. According to the census of 1847 the Jewish community of Maytchet consisted of 340 people but according to the census of 1897 the amount of the population was 1733, among which were 1,188 Jews.
These encyclopedias were not very comprehensive in their topics. Their general approach was to concentrate on the larger cities and completely ignore these smaller towns and villages. The dictionaries and the regional maps for travelers contained more information about the smaller places. These regional maps would point out where the trains stopped and where the flourmills on the riverbanks were and where all the smaller things were.
This is what was written in the Dictionary of Geography of the Kingdom of Poland [Slownik Geograficzny Krolestwa Polskiego], which was published in 1889, regarding Maytchet:
|Maytchet, early period|
The environs around the city were hilly with sandy soil and it was sparsely forested. It was a very important train stop on the Vilna-Romania rail line and it was called the Maytchet stop. There was a post office and a connecting telegraph system between the railroad stations of Navolania and Baranovichi, 25 Versts distance between the two towns, 162 Versts from Vilna, 63 Versts from Lida, 189 Versts from Pinsk and 301 Versts from Kobrin.
c. Settlement of Jews in Lithuania
The Jews came from different countries and settled in Lithuania in the 14th century. The liberal Lithuanian ruler Gediminas (1336-41) by his great victory expanded the borders of his country from the Nemunas to the Volynia rivers. He was hospitable to settlers from outside, among whom were many Jews who were needed for the development of his sparsely populated country.
The liberal treatment of the Jews continued with Gediminas’ grandchild Witold (1430-86), who even gave Jews special privileges in order to encourage them to develop his country. Thanks to the humane treatment of these two princes and of the Lithuanian population--the second half of the 14th century was still pagan and religious hatred was still not ingrained in them--many Jewish villages were developed. The three largest Jewish communities were Brisk, Grodno, and Troki.
However, as was always the destiny of Jews in the diaspora, after 200 years of peace and after they put all their energy and blood into the building of the country, history repeated itself. A New King Arose, Let us deal wisely with, etc. Under the influence of the jealous Jesuits who gained influence in this country at that time, in the year 1495 the Orthodox Bishop Alexander Yagilonchik banished all the Jews from his district and had their property confiscated. And when Maytchet was established along with other villages in the 16th century, there were only a few remote villages without Jews.
However, very soon the rulers of the country realized that the advice of the Jesuit was wrong and that, without the hard working Jews, their country sank very quickly into economical chaos. The flourishing economy that came to them from the labor of the Jews disappeared as if had never been there. And the property that was confiscated went to the greedy Church. Only after their eyes opened up to see light, did they turn from their wicked thoughts and, in April 1505, the Jews were allowed to return to their homes, and with that return the Jews also went to new areas with the idea that they would build up those areas as well.
After the cancellation of the expulsion, their property was returned to them. However, the Jews never received the full rights back that they had before. They were burdened with a special tax, called the Return Tax, which henceforth was a customary tax that every Jew had to pay, together with the head tax, to the government.
We also find in Lithuanian government records from the second half of the 17th century, 150 years after the return of Jews to the area, the concept of the Return Tax from the villages of Dvoretz, Zhetl, Maytchet, etc. Even though they had attained a degree of independence by that time, these communities still had to pay this tax to the country of Lithuania.
|General view of Mochadz|
Another transfusion to the Jewish body of Lithuania occurred after the unification between Lithuania and Poland from 1516 on, when the two sister countries unified into one country. Another element was added to the Lithuanian Jewish group, and that was the Polish Jews who were integrated into the area. That integration went very well. The Lithuanian intellectual Jews developed in such a way that they received the name The Intelligent Jews. And they also absorbed religious fervor from the Chassidic Polish Jews, who were the heart of the Jews. From this one can understand the existence of the Chassidic environment in the big cities and the small villages in the area.
Lithuania’s Jews experienced hard times, which was a normal part of Jewish life in the diaspora, and we will talk about this in the next chapters. As our wise saying goes, Be mindful of the children of poor people because from them comes Torah learning.
And so it was that the Lithuanian Jews, including Polish Lithuania, developed the greatest names in all areas of learning and wisdom. Lithuania’s Jewish immigrants are the pillars of the Zionist movement and the Hebrew culture in many of the diasporic countries where they spread, like South Africa, etc.
d. Multi-government region
We cannot say how successful the post 1917 revolution regimes were in both abolishing the old world according to the revolutionary doctrine; and in building a new and better world. But when it comes to the Jews who had so much hope in the revolution and sacrificed so many people and much propertytheir world was destroyed. Everything collapsed very quickly approaching World War II when Hitler, the wild and crazy man, destroyed almost all the Jews of Europe. Few people survived this war of annihilation; some of these survivors immigrated to Israel to build a new State and build a new life for themselves.
The terrible regime is only the end of other terrible regimes that preceded it and greatly effected the character of the Jews in the Diaspora and our area as well. The Lithuanian Polish region, with Maytchet at its center, was a battleground where Eastern and Western armies fought throughout the generations. It passed from one hand to another, but everyone had one deep-seated goal, to suppress the Jews. Until the end of the 13th century, there was also continuous fighting in this area with no permanent government whatsoever. There were also foreign forces, invasions and attacks from the Tartars, Cossacks, Swedes, etc.
Only beginning in 1291, with the establishment of the Lithuanian archdiocese, did the Lithuanian rule became more permanentfor 278 years until the merger of Poland and Lithuania in 1569. Lithuanian rule began with a liberal spirit toward the Jews, who were invited to inhabit the country and participate in its creation. But very quickly the Jews were commanded to leave the country after they devoted their lives and blood to the building of the country. But very quickly again the rulers of Lithuania regretted what they had done and the Jews were allowed to return, but the tear in the heart never healed. Especially the real goal of the government was revealed when he needed the Jewish money and they were imposed a special return tax that was like a Jewish tax which they had to pay throughout the kingdom of Lithuania.
With the Lublinik unification, Poland and Lithuania became one country and the Polish government continued for 226 years. The attitude of the Polish government to the Jews was not as it seemed. On one hand there was a tradition of the respected Jew that allowed the Jews to have freedom of religion which was given to them by the committee of four countries. On the other hand, the Polish people were very deeply-rooted in anti-semitism and the liberal Polish government turned the big Jewish center into a ghetto. Every Pole in his heart wanted to see the Jews disappear except for their Jewish entertainer who had to sing and dance in front of the bride and say How beautiful you are. These are the three typical symbols of the Polish diaspora and it's regime.
The third government that effected the area in a very destructive way was the Russian empire, which established itself after the third division and the destruction of Poland in 1795. If the Polish were liberal to the Jews, the Russians were tyrants and used very strong suppressing measures towards the Jews. Everywhere there were Russian governors, the Jews were limited in where they could live and the limitation was called Krumi Yevryeb, which means everything is allowed to everyone except for the Jews. The civil rights of the Jews were gradually decreased until the committee was completely abolished. A law was enacted detailing where Jews could not live in a village and gave work prohibitions. Pogroms were also established.
These were the three main regimes that lasted for a few hundred years and effected Jewish life during many generations. But we cannot ignore shorter regimes like the renewed Polish government that, during 19 years of it's existence, succeeded in abolishing all the hopes and dreams of the Jews and of course was the three years of tyranny that was the most fatal and tragic to the local Jews who had already experienced so much pain and suffering.
e. Mass slaughter of Jews by Chelmnitzky et al
After the rebellion of the Cossacks led by Chemil, the rebellious farmers in western Ukraine and the area of Podolia and Valim, much Jewish blood was poured until they reached Pinsk. Some sources say the blood even reached the swamps of Policia and arrived to the cities of Slonim, Grodno, and even Minsk. Nathan Hanover listed in his book all the names of the communities that were destroyed. He does not mention Slonim, Maytchet or Zhetl. We find that the 12th meeting of the Vad took place in the month of Shevat in 1649 in the small town called Mistzki. The 13th meeting took place 1650 in Zvalodova, large sums of money had to be paid by the Jewish communities of Dvoretz, Zhetl, and Maytchet, and others who had to pay debts that were created in the winter of 1648.
The Cossacks attacked the Polish nobility and Catholic churches wherever they went. However, these incidents were not recorded in any municipal court house records in Slonim. Nor is there enough information in the history books of the area communities to reveal the tragic events that happened to the Jews. It is known; however, that many communities paid a very high tax during those years, which is a sign of their economic success.
In contrast it is clear that in 1655 the Cossacks arrived in Slonim and destroyed the Catholic Monastery in Shebzeryerba and viciously attacked the towns and villages. Even though we do not have detailed information about killings of Jews, we still know that their commercial life was almost paralyzed. The urban Christian and the Polish Catholic priesthood led by the Jesuits helped destroy the Jewish life.
In 1658, to the great humiliation of the Jews, they were accused of a blood libel in the town of Roznovay. This ended with the execution of two of the most prominent Jewish leaders in the community. This event led to other libels and to the danger of general expulsion of the Lithuanian Jews. Feelings of fear overtook the Jews in the region and their communities that were forced to pay heavy prices so that they could stay and they needed to take loans with high interest from the priests of Shebzeryerba in order to pay those loans back they had to become slaves.
In 1654 to 1655 the Russians and their Swedish partners that took part in the Thirty Year War of Poland attacked the Jews and killed many without mercy. The people in Lithuania who miraculously survived the Cossacks, were now being murdered by the Russians and Swedish, and they became desperately poor. Because of the terrible situation of the Jewish community, especially in the area of Novogrudek, the Council of Lithuania could not deliver the correct tax and in 1712 a law suit to the Supreme Court in Vilna for not paying the taxes. The community was sued for 25,000 gold coins.
Among the communities mentioned in the law suit were, Slonim, Dvorets, Zhetl, Maytchet, Polanka, Stolevitch, Mush, and others. This was a very harsh law suit which also included a death penalty to the community leaders if the money will not be paid on time.
Summarizing this difficult and bitter period that was the life of the Lithuanian Jews, it must be said that because of the continuous wars and poverty, there was a major plague that killed many.
f. The region and its Cultural Influence
There is never a historical period that is not measured as a whole unit but is part of a chain of generations and periods. Each period is a result of the preceding one and is also a base for future events. Also, a geographical specific point is a summary effect from external effects and other geographical centers that affected her existence physically, spiritually and socially. It is clear that this little town in Lita is first of all Lithuanian in its nature.
The area of the influence of Maytchet that is centered on the Newman River in the Northwest and the Pripet River in the Southeast and the big cities that are around her: Vilna in the North, Grodno and Bialystok in the West, Brisk and Pinsk in the South, Minsk in the East and Slonim in the center of the area. Before we describe the immediate region, i.e., the cities, the nearby villages that conducted day to day commercial relations with Maytchet, we will describe more distant centers that had a cultural effect on the area and on Maytchet in particular.
Vilna--an ancient town with 235,000 people, of which 80,000 were Jews in 1941. It was the capital of Lithuania, and was a big center of European Jewry with an ancient university, a science academy, a conservatorium, a school for Rabbis, a Teacher's seminary in Hebrew and Yiddish, an Ort Technion, a center for Yiddish culture called Vilner Yiddish. It was known as The Jerusalem of Lita. Important scholars who lived there were: The Eli Golan of Vilna, Rabbi Yehudah Halevi Horowitz, Adam Ha Kohen and son Mikhah, Yehuda Leib Gordon, Shmuel Yoseph Fine and others.
Grodno--an ancient town on the River Newman with 50,000 inhabitants; 20,000 were Jews. It is one of the main towns in the Bialystok area. Today it is part of Belarus. There was much trade in wood, wool, and tobacco processing. Already in the 14th century there was a Jewish community there and in 1789 the first Jewish press by Baruch Romm was transferred to Vilna and became famous as the Romm Press. Rabbi Mordechai Jaffee was a famous Rabbi from Grodno.
Bialystok--More then 100,000 inhabitants, 50,000 Jews in 1939 mainly production of textile that was lead by Jews. Famous Rabbis were Shemuel Mohilewer and Ludwig Zamenhof.
Brisk of Lita--The main town in the region Polesie on the Bug River with 50,000 inhabitants and a large Jewish community. It was an important crossroad on the Moscow-Warsaw railroad.
In the 17th century, Brisk became famous as a center for Lithuanian Jews and their gathering. Some of the famous Rabbis were Hayim Solveitchik and Yoel Sirkes.
Brisk was destroyed in 1648 by Bogdan Chmielnitski who used it as a northern border in his bloody war.
Pinsk--a city in the region of Polesie with the swamps of Pinsk in the center. In 1939 there were 37,000 inhabitants; 24,000 Jews that mainly dealt with exporting wood to Danzig.
There was a Jewish community from the 16th century that was very active in the dispute between the Misnagdim and Chassidim. The Jews suffered terribly from the Cossack pogroms of Bogdan Chmielnitski.
Minsk--The capital of Russian Belarus on the River of Svisloch, S.E. of Vilna and on the railroad line of Moscow, Vilna and Warsaw. It is the twin city to Vilna in its population and Jewish cultural importance. Before the Holocaust there were 60,000 Jews out of a population of 238,000 people. In the 14th century Minsk was annexed to Lithuania and in the 16th century it became part of Poland during the 1569 unification.
From the 16th century Minsk became an important Jewish community in the governing council of the four countries and later in the governing council of the State of Lithuania, Minsk was known as a very important Torah center including Rabbi Yehiel Heilprin, Rabbi Arieh Lieb and others. It was an important base of the Mitnagedim activities and the Zionists of Russia from 1902.
g. Immediate surroundings and economic relations
Slonim--a historic town dating from the medieval days on the River Szczara. Before the second World War there were 14,000 inhabitants. It is a very important town that included wise Rabbis with Lithuanian learning and a warm Jewish heart of the Chassidic Admorim (head of the Chassidic courts). People moved to Slonim to study in the Yeshiva and to be close to the Chassidic leaders and the Zionist revolutionaries.
During the days of the Lithuanian autonomy committee, Maytchet and small surrounding towns were connected to the large Slonim community.
Baranovichi A relatively young city that was established after the construction of the Moscow/Brisk railroad in 1873. It had been a pine tree forest. Many of the inhabitants of the surrounding villages were attracted to Baranovichi because it was an important crossroad.
Baranovichi developed mainly during the Polish regime, which made her into the main city in the region instead of Slonim. Administratively the councils of Mush, Maytchet, Polanka, Stolevitch, Horodishtch belonged to this community. Of the 28,000 inhabitants, less then ½ were Jewish. But the Jews were the traders and involved in commerce and the Christians were the clerks and the military people.
Baranovichi was the center for Torah and Chassidism . There two large Yeshivas and this Jewish cultural center attracted young boys from the nearby area. There were six weekly Jewish newspapers published in Baranovici and the influence of the city was strong on the entire area.
Stolevitch a small town not far from Baranovichi with mostly Christians and a few hundred Jewish families. Stolevitch was well situated for a stop over for horses and carriages. Their economy was based on this. There were also market days that became famous in this area and even Maytchet was influenced by this.
Much The mother town of Baranovici was actually an ancient town which is indicated in a book they found. In 1897 Much had 2,995 inhabitants of which 1,764 were Jews.
Much is west of Baranovici and the Jews prospered there. But when Baranovici was founded in 1884 with the establishment of the railroad, many inhabitants moved from Much to Baranovici and the town eventually became bankrupt.
Another source of information about the Jewish community in Maytchet can be found, without doubt, in the Yizkor books of the adjacent communities in the area, since they shared a common fate in terms of political and economic relations and also in the organization of the Jewish communities. It also should be noted, the problems concerning
the general political matters and also the internal community life under the tyrannical government and the very difficult days including the poll tax levied on the Jews by the state, attempts to prevent blood libels and other vicious decrees, redemption of prisoners, aid to the families whose members were martyred, etc. The Jews of Lithuania suffered from another tax that was levied for the right to return to their former residence after the cancellation of deportations decrees.
All these matters were daily occurrences of the Jews of Lithuania and brought for discussion to the Committee of the State of Lithuania, where each community tried to give as much as possible to the fund of the Committee which was directly responsible to the government for the payments. According to the amounts of payments and their changing details we can learn about the conditions that rose and declined of the community.
|The early days of Maitshet|
And this is what we read in the Shtetl Pinhas (Ledger), of the interesting work of Mordechai Vav. Bernshtein (Buenos Aires)
In the meeting of the Committee from 1670, section 687, we read about the levy of State amount: three gold coins, 46 large ones and 100 large Polish ones). From this we learn for the first time, that also Maitshet was part of the partnership. ¹ Pinkas Zhetl (a/k/a Dyatlovo), edited by Baruch Kaplinski. Tel-Aviv, 1957.
In the meeting of the Committee in 1673, paragraph 706 we read: Dvorets (a/k/a Dzyatlava) with Maitshet eight large gold foil to this Maitshet will give 6 gdo'f. From this budget we learn that Dvorets (which in the past was considered with Zhetl) became a partner with Maitshet, and we learn from this the portion of Maitshet in the general sum.
And in the meeting of 1679 - Dvorets and Maitshet 26 large ones and in 1684 they gave 18 large ones until from 1601 Maitshet separated from Dvorets and appeared as a separate community with 7 large ones.
In the Pinkas of Slonim, a book by Kalman Lichtenshtein, in chapter 4, we read the following excerpts about the town of Maitshet and its surroundings from its beginnings:
Despite the terrible isolation of the Jews among the hostile non-Jews, the Jews of Slonim succeeded during the years 1550 - 1648 to enlarge its borders and to continue to found small settlements in the area, the way they had done in the first half of the 16th century. Thus we note the existence of Jewish settlements during this time such as Zhetl, Roviny, Dvorets, Maitshet, Polanka (a/k/a Stolevitch), Drohichin (a/k/a Drahichyn), Halynka (a/k/a Golynka), Kossovo, Byten, - small communities that were without a doubt founded by settlers from Slonim, who arrived there after the establishment and strengthening their central community.
In Chapter 6, of the above mentioned book, we read about the place of Maitshet among the family of Jewish communities in the area.
Immediately upon the start of the Pinkas of the State of Lithuania, in the Committee of 1623, divided the state into three main regions: Brisk, Harodna, and Pinsk. Slonim was mentioned as belonging to the region of Brisk. In this section also are mentioned the communities of Roviny and Dvorets due to their growth in the beginning of the 17th century. From this we learn that many settlements in the area that had lesser Jewish populations than these two; and the fact of their existence was mentioned due to governmental and local acts - Slonimian, and they are: Ozernitsa, Kossovo, Drohichin, Zhetl, Byten, Seltz (a/k/a Syalyets) Polanka, Maitshet and a number of communities in the surrounding villages were directly subordinate to the community of Slonim.
In addition direct and indirect mention was made in the memorial books of other communities in the area, that indicate the beginning of the establishment of Maitshet and the difficulties encountered in its development.
i. The Jewish town in the view of the newspapers
How wretched and pitiful looked the lives of the Jews in the big cities, and especially in the small Jewish towns, in the view of the newspapers of those days.
Whether in the Eastern part, the valley of tears as described by the author Mendele that is reflected in The Melitz by Tzederbaum in Peterburg and that of the Western side, in Yavan Hametzula by Hanover, reflected in the Tzfira by Slonimski in Warsaw, the area of Lithuania was a middle ground reflecting parts of both sides; two are better than one.
And we should know, that in those days the idea of Zionism had not yet evolved and there didn't appear among the Jewish communities any other solutions to resist the decrees as was done in the democratic countries. In addition, the older generation was still deep in its old ways, the swamp of exile, and were able to bequeath to their children only tarbe that has no end and all the long-standing Jewish way of life. Therefore even new generations physically strong but weak in spirit, plodded along in the same stagnant swamp.
|The first houses in Maitshet|
If life was so wretched and downtrodden and the writers whose opinions were so empty and superficial, as if there is nothing more in their world but only cursed poverty and meagerness, the community-shtibl, the disputes and rumors. And if the sky was so dark without any horizons, vision and hope ceased to exist in the closed heart without realizing the wretched situation. And if the town stood still for many years and no one arose to write in the newspaper anything more than a fire in the streets, or a murder or theft or until a bishop would arrive
for a visit and a delegation of Jews with Torah scrolls went to greet him and other such news. Therefore, it's not surprising that the image of the Jewish town in the view of the press was desperate and somewhat unpleasant, since that was the image and the character in sad reality.
Here are a few excerpts from the reports of the correspondents of the towns and area around Maitshet, that constantly ran news reports that would be published on the front pages for all to see in the periodicals.
HaMalitz - a notice to tell Yaakov everything etc. that happened in Peterburg the capital, written by Alexander Halevi Tzederboim.
Hatfira - a periodical that reported news among the people of Yeshurun (Jews), published in Warsaw by Haim Zelig Slonimski.
MN- - - notifies: The number of Jews counted in our town is 280 families. There is one great synagogue that is standing since the year 5408 (1648), and another 6 Batei midrashim - Study Halls. Six organizations 1- Hevra Kadisha (for burials), 2- Bikur Holim (taking care of the sick), 3- Linat Zedek (hostel for the poor), 4- Hevrat Sha'ss (learning the Talmud) , 5- Hevrat Mishnayot (learning the Mishna), 6- Hevrat Tehillim (learning/reading the Psalms).
Rabbis 2, Rabbinical judges 2, shohet (ritual kosher slaughter) 3, cantors 2, beadles 8, teachers 13, writers of Torah scrolls, etc. 6, mikve caretakers 2, gravediggers 2, storekeepers 36, sellers of old clothes 6, horse traders 9, fruit salesmen 5, agents and intermediaries 7, bakers of bread and honey cakes 9, tailors and seamstresses 23, leather workers 21, waggoners 11, watch repairers 3, engravers 3, meat pullers 7, wood choppers and water carriers 7, chimney sweepers 2, manual laborers 9, musicians 4, makers of hand boxes 2, doctor 1, pharmacist, midwives 3, without any specific occupation 67, beggars 9.
These are the Jews who live in our town as counted.
Z --- (Grodno area). - On Monday night during the 10 days of repentance, a fire erupted and destroyed more than 100 houses and 3 Study Halls, also stores with their merchandise were burnt. The people of the city stand outside with their wives and children without a place to sleep. Therefore I ask of you in the name of the injured to quickly give them help whether in money or clothes and to send to ---.
MB ---We are told that on Shabbat Parshat Shmot there was a disturbance and confusion in the study hall during the prayers, between the leader of the prayers and the shohet - - - and there was such a great tumult that the neighboring Christians came to see what all the noise was about and they laughed that such foolishness about the leader of the prayers would cause the Jews to desecrate the House of the Lord.
H.P. - MM writes that from a nearby village three farmers came to a tavern run by a Jewish woman who poured them a drink, which they drank and became intoxicated. When she asked for payment they spilled
out the liquor from the barrels onto the ground and they beat her badly almost to death. If only the police had arrived
MM. We are told that on Friday, before last Shabbat the prayer hall of the Hasidim became like a battlefield. They beat each other, threw dirt, insulted and cursed each other like fishwives at the market. About 60 pieces of glass were broken from the windows and even the wives of the Hasidim took part in the holy war. And the men even grabbed the head coverings off the women in front of all. Finally, they filed their complaints and petitions to the magistrate and the mayor of the city to our disgrace and shame.
M.A. writes MM. - Our town looks like a hut in the field, all the workers have stopped working and live from the air. Due to zero work they walk around the town all day and spend their time in idle talk. Formerly many urgently went to work in the golden countries, America and Africa, but even a change of place didn't improve their economic situation because those wandering from place to place didn't earn much. Only infrequently were they able to send money home to their families who were left penniless, and others had to return bitterly disappointed.
The education of the children was sluggish and poorly done. The people found no use for education and no one sought it. I am not exaggerating when I say that there was almost no one in the whole town who had any knowledge of our literature or any idea of our nationalism. No one here even read the newspapers because it didn't interest them in the least.
MB. writes. - Due to the lack of a Talmud-Torah (elementary school) the teachers sit in special rooms and each receives his salary of three to five rubles a week. Each must go around to the homes every Friday to receive this pittance. This money is insufficient to maintain the Talmud-Torah and the community stands apart and awaits the coming of the Messiah.
Recently the home of the local Rabbi was burned. Among his possessions that were destroyed were the documents of his birth and marriage. The rabbi attempted to acquire permission from the governor of the province, that the district council provide a copy of the documents that are kept in their offices. However, many fees are required, which he did not have; he asked the local council to help but they claimed they couldn't aid him since they had no money. Thus those requesting documents were sorely disappointed.
j. Summary Table Part One
|Until the end of the 6th century||Prehistoric period/movement of primitive tribes, Slavs, Lithuanians, Teutonians|
|7th - 8th centuries||Beginning of small principalities, Slavic, in the East and Lithuanian in the West 200 yrs|
|9th - 10th centuries||Overthrow of Lithuanian princes and fortification of Slavic princes in the area 200 yrs|
|11th - 12th centuries||Constant clashes between Russians and Lithuanians and alternating control of each 200 yrs|
|1241||Invasion of the Tatars of Battu-Hen and their withdrawal in the same year 1 yr|
|1291 - 1569||Expulsion of the Russian princes to the East/Founding of the Lithuanian Archduchery/Consecutive Lithuanian government in the area for 278 yrs|
|1316 - 1341||The Lithuanian Prince Gadmin invites the Jews from various regions to settle in his land 25 yrs|
|1386 - 1430||Vitold the grandson of Gadmin grants special rights to the Jewish settlers who will develop his country 44 yrs|
|1495 - 1505||Jewish Deportation decree from Lithuanian by Alexander Yagilontzik/ in 1503 repeal of the decree and return of the Jews 8 yrs|
|1503||The approximate dare of the founding of the village of Maitshet|
|1569 - 1795||Lublin Unified Covenant between Lithuania and Poland, autonomous Lithuania in the area and conseccutive Polish government for a period of 226 yrs|
|1623 - 1761||Rule of autonomous Committee of Jews of Lithuania 138 yrs|
|1655 - 1659||Russian invasion and war of the Swedes 5 yrs|
|1670||The Maitshet community is mentioned for the first time in the Pinkas (ledger) of Lithuania together with Dvorets and Zhetl|
|1795 - 1915||Final division of Poland and annexation of the area to Russia/Czarist Russian government for 120 yrs|
|1915 - 1919||German conquest in World War I 3 ½ yrs|
|1920 - 1939||After the interim Soviet rule - renewed Polish rule for 19 yrs|
|1939 - 1941||Soviet occupation according to the Ribbentrop - Molotov Agreement 2 yrs|
|1941 - 1944||Nazi occupation/annihilation of the Jews 3 yrs|
|1944||Annexation of the area to Soviet Belarus|
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