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[Page 571]

Drawings from Vaukavysk

Painted by Samuel Rothbort (“Painter”)

Translated by Sophie Edelhart

Edited by Yocheved Klausner

Samuel Rothbort was born in Vaukavysk. His father, Hershel, the Svislotsher baker's son, immigrated to America in 1884. His mother, Chave, the flour shopkeeper, was the daughter of Itche Kanoval on the Wide Street.

Samuel Rothbort began to display his artistic talents from when he was a young boy in cheder (religious school). The beautiful landscape of Vaukavysk and its surroundings inspired him in this direction. He used to sit in cheder under the bench, so that the Rabbi wouldn't see him, and draw the Rabbi, R'Hershel Yaakov the Melamed (teacher in religious school), the Rebbetzin (Rabbi's wife), and various types of students. After school hours he would go to Yedidya the Lathe Operator and would help him at his work. When he grew up, he became a leather tanner with Bloch in the tannery. In later years, he became involved with the Vaukavysk “Bund” and was very active until 1904 when he traveled to America with the remaining members of his family. In Vaukavysk, he was already well known for his skill in painting— and people consequently gave him the name Samuel “Chudazhnik.”

In America, during his first year, he worked decorating schools, theater halls, and so on. In his free time, he would draw and do sculptural work in stone and wood.

In 1917, Rothbort had the first exhibition of his works at Barzansky's art gallery in New York. Afterwards, he had many other art exhibitions and nowadays you can find his work in several museums throughout the American continent.

His niece, Vivian Lush (his sister's daughter) is also well known in America as a sculptor. His son, Lawrence, walked in his father's footsteps and has already had art exhibitions in various galleries all over the country.

Samuel Rothbort painted, from memory, hundreds of pictures of his hometown. We are presenting here a few reproductions of his drawings of Vaukavysk.

Besides the four pictures on pages 572 and 573, two more pictures by Samuel Rothbort are published in “Yizkhor Book” — “The Dog Catcher” on page 55 and “The Cheder” on page 56.

[Page 572]

The Game in Samogitia


Shabbat Afternoon Walk by the River and the Castle Mountain

[Page 573]

The rabbi R'Yonatan and the religious judge R'Mendele examining the Students in the Yeshiva


The Mute Water Carrier


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