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Translation of
“Khotin Yizkor Book”

(Khotyn, Ukraine)


Project Leader: Judith Renee Wagner
JewishGen Liason/Advisor: Lance Ackerfeld

Project Synopsis

This project is being initiated in order to fund the translation of the over 300 page Yizkor book of Khotin/ Hotin, Ukraine. It was originally published in Hebrew and Yiddish in Israel, and the editor was Shlomo Shitnovitzer, and was published in Tel Aviv in 1974 by the Khotin (Bessarabia) Society.

Khotin is a city in Chernivtsi Oblast of western Ukraine. It is south-west of Kamianets-Podilskyi. Khotin, is first chronicled in 1001, and is located on the right (southwestern) bank of the Dniester River, and is part of the historical region of Bessarabia. An important architectural landmark within the city is the Khotin Fortress, constructed in the 13-15th centuries. During some of it's history, the city was part of the principality of Moldavia. Jewish merchants traveling from Constantinople to Lvov in the 15th and 16th centuries used to pass through Khotin, then an important customs station on the Polish-Moldavian border on the commercial route between Turkey and Poland. Jewish merchants from Poland used to visit Khotin for the fairs held there, evidence which dates from 1541. The residence of Jews in Khotin is first mentioned in documents in 1741. There were 340 Jewish families in 1808. After this time the community grew as a result of the large Jewish immigration into the region. In 1897 the community totaled 9227 which was over 50% of the population. A Jewish government school was established in 1847, and a private school for girls was opened in 1857. In the first half of the 19th century, Isaiah Schorr, one of the most important rabbis in Bessarabia, officiated in Khotin. Later, Grand Rabbi Israel Twersky served the community of Khotin.

Key Audiences

Descendants of Khotin and other Jewish genealogists who have ancestors in Khotin and Bessarabia will be interested in learning more of the community, traditions, and lost relatives. This project will also be of interest to non-Jewish residents of Khotin that are learning and researching the history of the Jewish Community of Khotin, Ukraine.

Project Importance

Yizkor books are unique sources of information on once vibrant towns, primarily in Central and Eastern Europe, whose Jewish populations were destroyed in the Holocaust. Written after WW11 by emigres and Holocaust survivors, Yizkor books contain narratives of the history of the town, details of daily life, religious and political figures and movements, religious and secular education, and gripping stories of the major intellectual movements in 20th century Europe. The necrologies and lists of residents are of tremendous genealogical value, as often the names of individuals who were taken to extermination camps or died in the forests are not recorded elsewhere. Usually written in Hebrew and/or Yiddish, these books are not accessible to a wider audience. The translation will unlock this information to many more researchers all over the world. This project will result in the creation of a primary English language source of information for anyone doing research on the town and its Jewish community

Project Description

As the funds become available, the Hebrew and Yiddish pages will be translated into English according to importance, by a professional translator. The project coordinator will review the translation and work closely with the translators. The project coordinator with solicit funds from family members, friends, genealogists, descendants of Khotin, Ukraine, and others interested in the history of this area.

Estimated Cost

A full translation is currently estimated at $17,000-$18,000.


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