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Shumsk Yizkor Book Translation

(Shums'k, Ukraine)


Project Leader: Lynne Tolman
JewishGen Liason/Advisor: Lance Ackerfeld

Project Synopsis

This project is being initiated to fund the translation to English of a 477-page memorial book (yizkor book) for Shumskoye, Ukraine, aka Shumsk or Shimsk or Szumsk, that was edited by H. Rabin and published in 1968 in Tel Aviv, Israel. The goal is to eventually provide a complete translation of this book to JewishGen. A partial translation of the book already exists on JewishGen, including the table of contents, at About 350 pages remain to be translated. The book can be seen online in the original Hebrew and Yiddish at the New York Public Library site,

Key Audience

Jewish genealogists seeking to trace their roots to Shumsk and its region constitute the primary audience for the material. However, the material has the potential to be of broader appeal to scholars interested in the region or specializing in Jewish history and society.

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 World War II by émigrés and Holocaust survivors, typically in Hebrew and Yiddish, yizkor books contain narratives of the history of the town, details of daily life, descriptions of religious and political figures and movements, religious and secular education, and stories of the major intellectual and Zionist movements of the 20th century. 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. The translation of yizkor books into English unlocks this information to many more researchers all over the world.

Before the outbreak of World War II, Shumsk had a Jewish community of approximately 2,000 people. The community was wiped out, with the final “aktion” taking place in 1942, and was not reconstituted after the war. Survivors, descendents of survivors, as well as descendents of those who emigrated from Shumsk before WWII are known to exist in Israel, the United States, Canada, Argentina, South Africa and other places. This Yizkor Book is a major formal source for documented history of the town, and 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 funds become available, all Hebrew and Yiddish pages will be translated into English. To accomplish that, JewishGen will hire a professional translator or translators. The translator(s) will work in conjunction with continued volunteer efforts by Rachel Karni, who has family roots in Shumsk, is active in a “Shumsker” organization in Israel and translated many of the chapters of the yizkor book that have been completed. Rachel Karni will select the order in which the chapters will be translated, and she and the project coordinator for this fundraising effort will work closely with the translator(s) and to ensure a grammatically correct and idiomatic translation. Those who donate money to the project will be given the opportunity to select chapters of interest for priority in translation. The project coordinator for this fundraising effort will facilitate the hiring of the professional translator(s) through JewishGen and, in consultation with Rachel Karni, will proofread, edit and format the work for submission to the Yizkor Book Project.

Estimated Cost

Translation of the remainder of the book is currently estimated to cost at least $9,000. This estimate will be revised and refined as the project progresses. JewishGen will be responsible for paying the translator, and donations to the fund will be tax-deductible for U.S. citizens.


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