Kovel, Poland Yizkor Book

Project Name: Translation of the Sefer Kovel, formally titled under the Polish variant of the city's name: “Kowel; testimony and memorial book of our destroyed community”

Project Leader:
Bruce Drake

JewishGen Yizkor Book Project Manager: Lance Ackerfeld

Project Synopsis

Kovel, now part of the Ukraine, obtained its city rights in 1518 when it was part of the Duchy Of Lithuania. It became a key Jewish population center in the district of Volhynia, and over the centuries, passed variously among Poland and Russia before being occupied by the Germans in World War 2 and the Soviets after the defeat of the Nazis. In doing extensive research into the city's history, which can be found at, there were gaps for certain periods that I hope can be filled in by chapters in the Pinkas, some of which I have already identified through the copy online at the New York Public Library.

There are two editions of the book. One was published in 1951 in Argentina and the lists of the deceased have been translated and are online at JewishGen. The edition which I want to have translated was published in Tel Aviv in 1957 and edited by Eliezer Leoni-Zopperfin.

This project will support the services of a professional translator to translate the full book of Hebrew text. Translation will begin with the table of contents and figure captions, and then will proceed with the chapters of the book.

Key Audiences

Jewish genealogists seeking to trace their roots in Stolin 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, 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.

The Nazis occupied Kovel in June 28, 1941. Two ghettos that were established were liquidated during the summer of 1942. Some tried to escape to the forests buy many were killed by Ukrainian gangs. Nearly all structures and evidence of where Jews lived were destroyed. The Jewish community was not re-established. In 1955, Leoni-Zopperfin was asked to be editor-in-chief of the memorial book, and it was published two years later.

Jews from Kovel have settled in the U.S. and Israel, and there was a Kovler Voleener landsmanshaftn established in New York City as well as an extensive website produced by descendants of Kovel ancestry in Israel (

Project Description

The project goal is to put the translation of the full 539 pages of text online at Translation will begin with the table of contents and the four chapters that comprise the section titled, “The City's Early History, Its Character and Makeup.”

To accomplish that JewishGen will hire a professional translator. The project coordinator will select the order in which to translate the chapters and will work closely with the translator to ensure a grammatically correct and idiomatic translation. Specific tasks the project coordinator will perform include proofreading, editing, and preparing the work for submission to the Yizkor Book Project.

Estimated Cost: $10,800


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Updated 8 Nov 2009 by LA