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Translation of
Memorial Book for Zvhil / Novograd-Volynskiy

(Novohrad-Volyns'kyy, Ukraine)

 

Project Leader: Ellen Shindelman Kowitt
JewishGen Liason/Advisor: Lance Ackerfeld

Project Synopsis

This project is being initiated to fund the complete translation of the 604-page Yizkor Book of Zvhil / Novograd-Volynskiy and surrounding towns. It was originally published in Tel Aviv in 1962 in Hebrew, Yiddish, and English, and the editors were A. Ori, M. Bone, and the Association of Former Residents of Zvhil and Surroundings.

Most Hebrew chapters of the book have been translated into English and posted on JewishGen. Much of the book is in Yiddish and requires translation. A Russian translation including photos and maps is also available as a PDF.

Zhvil or Novograd-Volinskiy was fairly small during its first century of existence; taxpayer records from the mid-eighteenth century indicate that there were five-hundred-seventy-seven Jewish taxpayers. One-hundred-thirty years later, the community of Jews had grown to 9,378 people – more than half of the town's total population.

Zhvil was an important Hasidic center, and there were also followers of the Haskalah who studied secular subjects and tried to assimilate into European society.

Jews suffered during the civil war. In 1919 this conflict acted as a back-drop to wide-spread pogroms arising throughout Ukraine. The Jews of Zhvil sustained approximately one-thousand dead. Many other Jews were dispersed, and Zhvil was burned to the ground.

During the inter-war period, the Jews of Zhvil were engaged in the trades, the leather goods trade preeminent among them.

On the eve of World War II, Zhvil sheltered 6,839 Jews. German troops entered Zhvil on 8 July 1941. The Nazis herded the town's Jews into a ghetto, and one month later, one-thousand Zhvil Jews were murdered. Another short month later, four-thousand more Jews were killed. Only Jews who had useful skills were spared and sent to a labor camp. November 1942 saw the successful escape from the labor camp of the few remaining Jews, who made their way into the surrounding forest and joined partisan groups hiding in the woods.

(sources: The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life; Wikipedia; & Ukraine SIG)

Key Audiences

Jewish genealogists seeking to trace their roots to Zvhil/Novograd-Volynsk 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 WWII by emigres and Holocaust survivors, Yizkor Books contain narratives of the history of the town, details of daily life, activities of 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 funds become available, 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 Zvhil / Novograd Volynskiy, Ukraine and the surrounding towns, as well as others interested in the history of this area.

Estimated Cost

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

 


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