Pinkos Bialystok

Project Name. Translation of Pinkos Bialystok
Chronicle of the History of Jewish Bialystok

Project Leader
Mark Halpern
Coordinator for BIALYGen, the Bialystok Regions Jewish Genealogy Group

JewishGen Yizkor Book Project Manager:
Lance Ackerfeld

Project Synopsis

Pinkos Bialystok is not a typical Yizkor Book. Pinkos Bialystok was written by one author, Abraham S. Hershberg; is a fully researched and documented scholarly history of Jewish Bialystok from the very beginnings of the community in the 16th and 17th Centuries up through the mid-1930s; and was completed before World War II.

Pinkos Bialystok was published by the Bialystok Jewish Historical Association in New York in 1949-1950 in two volumes: volume one is 480 pages; volume two, 380 pages. The Yiddish manuscript survived the liquidation of the Bialystok Ghetto, although its author Abraham Hershberg did not survive.

BIALYGen, the Bialystok Region Jewish Genealogy Group, has translated the detailed Tables of Contents of both volumes of this work, which will be placed online.

Key Audiences

Jewish genealogists seeking to trace their roots in Bialystok constitute the primary audience for this material. However, the material has the potential to be of broader interest to scholars specializing in Jewish history and society in this region.

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, 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 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 shot in the forests are not recorded elsewhere. Usually written in Hebrew or Yiddish, these important books are not accessible to most users, who cannot read these languages. Thus, the translation of these books into English unlocks this information to many more researchers all over the world. The JewishGen Yizkor Book Project received the award in 2002 for outstanding contribution to Jewish genealogy by the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies.

Many such books have been published for Bialystok (see and The Bialystok Memorial Book, published in New York in 1982, is online (see

Pinkos Bialystok is different. It does not have any first-hand narratives of life before, during, and after the Holocaust written by survivors. It has no lists of Holocaust victims or survivors. It has no stories of heroism and destruction during World War II. However, this book does have historical information, profiles of historical figures and institutions, and discussions of historical events concerning the Jewish community of Bialystok from its beginnings in the 16th and 17th Centuries through the mid 1930s.

Project Description

Pinkos Bialystok is a book written in the style of a scholarly history textbook, not a typical yizkor book. Our plan is to translate the entire two-volume work of about 860 pages, which is organized into 30 chapters and three appendices containing a total 220 sections (sub-chapters).

To accomplish that, JewishGen will hire a professional translator. The project coordinator will work closely with the translator to ensure a grammatically correct and idiomatic translation. The project coordinator will perform specific tasks including proofreading, editing, and preparing the work for submission to the Yizkor Book Project. The expected cost of translation may be higher than the cost for most yizkor books because it is written as a scholarly work and uses many unfamiliar Yiddish and Hebrew terms. .

Estimated Cost. $31,875


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Updated 14 Mar 2009 by LA