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Sochaczew takes on a Yiddish Character

Julian Niemcewicz

Translated by Jerrold Landau

In 1817, a well-known Polish writer and political activist [1] , Julian Ursyna Niemcewicz, made a journey through Poland and Imperial Prussia, and wrote about the impressions of his trip, as well about his earlier and later journeys. Sochaczew was among the towns that he visited, and he devoted a few lines to that town. Of course, he took an interest in the Jews of the town, and he did not forget about them.

He writes regarding Sochaczew:

“Once it was a Polish city, but today (1817), it has become completely Judaised. Only Jews live on the Rynek (the town center), and in the best streets of the city. The remaining Christians live in the suburbs.”
One must admit that Niemcewicz was a liberal Polish politician and writer, and he even wrote “sympathetic” words about the Jews in a few of his works. One of his novels, “Lyuba and Siara” even had a Jewish theme, in which he speaks out against the backward and “dark” Jews, and praised the few that are “progressive”, that is to say, assimilated.


The History of the City and Area of Sochaczew and its Jews

Mrs. Janina Swierzynska

Translated by Jerrold Landau

The soil around the middle of the course of the Bzura River is particularly fertile, and therefore, it was settled very early. The earliest vestiges of human life on that soil are from approximately 12,000 years ago. Remnants of structures and implements from prehistoric epochs have been found by chance in over forty places: archeological remains of ancient settlements, cemeteries, and fortresses.

According to Professor Arnold, Sochaczew already existed as a fortified settlement in the ninth century, that is at a time before there was a united Polish nation and kingdom, which was founded, as is known, in the tenth century. The fortress served as a political, administrative and military center for the tribe that lived around the area of the Bzura. According to other sources, the fortress was built in the midst of the tenth century, but before that time there was already a settlement there in the form of a city and a business center. The settlement was established in a favorable location, at the crossroads of several land routes as well as in the middle of the water route of the Bzura River. Various economic enterprises were also centered in that area in agriculture and forestry. On account of this, a business center for the barter of goods was established very early on. Thanks to the business center (“Targowisko”) [2] and fortress, Sochaczew celebrated its millenium in the year 1962.

At the time of the first Polish rules of the Piast dynasty, the fortress of Sochaczew became the seat and residence of the representative of the ruler, who was known as the Kasztelan. In truth, that title was first used in the thirteenth century, but the position existed previously. Sochaczew became not only a center of a Kasztelan district, but also for a larger territory, which consisted of several Kasztelan districts, known in Polish as “Ziemia” (a land).

As can be understood, the Sochaczew fortress had a positive influence on the development of business. Various excavations reveal that by the end of the eleventh and beginning of the twelfth century, Sochaczew became a very vibrant and flourishing business center.

According to a tradition that is apparently correct, the ruler of all of Poland, King Boleslaw III Krzywausti (“with the curved mouth”) died in the Benedictine monastery of Sochaczew in the year 1138.

The first written records about Sochaczew come from the time of Konrad I, the Duke of Mazowia who brought a Knight of the Cross into Poland, who, according to a document from 1221, represented Konrad in Wiskiti, and who appears in the documents with the signature: “Palanta, Kasztelan of Sochaczew”.

Konrad granted the second document, with the same signature, in 1222 in Trojanow (the duke had two residences: In Wiskiti and Trojanow). There were two churches in Sochaczew in 1257. One is called “Saint Wawrzyniec [3], Holy Maria Magdalena and Eleven Thousand Virgins”, and is located on the grounds of the old Benedictine Church (today one can find the grottos there, across from the house of the Szepietowskis). The second is the Dominican Church, which was the seat of the Sochaczew parish during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, until the time of the Second World War.

In the thirteenth century, several dukes of Mazowia along with their entourages resided in Sochaczew. It was also the residence of bishops. One bishop of Posen (Poznan) even held his induction ceremony in Sochaczew. According to church records, Sochaczew was the seat of the diocese of Posen, the oldest in Poland.

The fact that Sochaczew was situated on a place where paths crossed did indeed have a positive influence on the development of business; however it had a fatal influence on the security situation. Not only businessmen traveled along the routes, but also foreign armies…

Lithuanian and Byelorussian dukes, who waged wars against the dukes of Mazowia or became intermingled in their own controversies, would plunder and destroy the town, the fortress and the surrounding area. The wooden fortress was not sufficient to protect this type of open settlement. Therefore, in the first half of the fourteenth century, Ziemowit II the Duke of Rawa, Wiskiti and Sochaczew (1313-1349) built a stronger fortress in Sochaczew. Its ruins can be seen until today.

The fortress – in Gothic style – is similar to the fortresses that were built at that time by the builders of Kazimierz the Great, as well as the fortresses of the Knights of the Cross.

The territory that was ruled by the ruler of Sochaczew was at that time not called a “land”, but rather a “duchy” [4].

After the death of Ziemowit II, who left behind no children, his brother's son, Duke Kazimierz of Mazowia, inherited the Duchy of Sochaczew. He was the last lifelong pawn of the Duchy of Sochaczew under the auspices by the Polish king Kazimierz the Great. After his death, Sochaczew returned to the control of the duke of the entire Mazowia region, Ziemowit III, called “the Elder”. He was the brother of the interim late Duke Kazimierz. Ziemowit III called a meeting of the Mazowian nobility in order to carry out a reform of the existing statute. This convention took place in the fortress of Sochaczew. There, the new statutes were proclaimed in the year 1377. These statutes applied to the entire Mazowia, and were called “The Mazowian Statutes” or “The Sochaczew Statutes”, which were more just than the previous ones were. Among other things, the new statutes repealed what was known as “God's Law”, which used to apply to the prohibition against witchcraft. (The accused used to have to go through a “fire test” or a “water test”, which would generally end with his death. This was considered to be a punishment from god.)

After Ziemowit's death, his son Ziemowit IV, called “The Younger” ruled in Sochaczew and in Plock. After the death of the Hungarian and Polish King Ludwig (1382) Ziemowit IV ascended to the Polish throne. However, he was overthrown. Wladyslaw Jagiello (1386-1434), who married the daughter of the previous King Ludwig, became the king of Poland. As a result of the rivalry, Hungarian soldiers, backed by the ruler of Krakow, fell upon and destroyed Sochaczew. Later, Jagiello, wanting to have his formal rival Ziemowit on his side, married his sister Alexandra. Ziemowit remained the ruler over his territory, officially recognized by his overlord, the King of Poland.

In the battle of Grunwald (1410), he directed the battle from Mazowsze. One of his sons was the commander of the king's bodyguards and another son, known as an “able person to conduct battles”, was a member of the royal war council. Jagiello's army marched through the entire Duchy of Sochaczew, from south to north, on its way to Grunwald.

After Grunwald, he had to fight again for the area of Sochaczew, for this was one of his duties. To conduct his duties in ensuring the security of the city, he was given a war chariot, hitched to four horses and laden with battle paraphernalia, as well as riders for the horses and a guard for the wagon.

From the time of the Hungarian attack (1384) after the death of King Ludwig, until the Swedish “flood” (1956-1957) [5], the Duchy of Sochaczew lived in peace. Obviously, this helped the economic development.

The end of the 14th century, the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century – this was the time of the greatest development of the Sochaczew artisans. Business was not able to flourish as greatly for there were two large competitors in the neighborhood – Lowicz and Warsaw. Lowicz (24 kilometers from Sochaczew) administratively subordinate to Sochaczew – later became the property and residence of the archbishops of Gniezn, the first dignitaries of the Polish kingdom whose court was not subordinate to the kings. Furthermore, the clergy was freed from various taxes, as were the merchants of Lowicz, who were subordinate to the archbishop. Therefore, the merchants of Sochaczew, who exported their grain by water to Danzig along the same rivers as did the Lowiczer merchants, the Bzura and Wisla, were not able to compete with the merchants of Lowicz, for the former were required to pay a water duty and the latter were not. Warsaw, which was not far away (56 kilometers), became a competitor not by defeat, since the city belonged to Crown Poland during the time of the royal decrees (at the first half of the 14th century).

The sources surmise that before that time, the grain business in Sochaczew played a very major role. It is known that the city had its own unit of measure, known as the “Sochaczew horseshoe” (a unit of measure that was used by the loaders who loaded the ferries that went to Danzig), and the “Sochaczew Kortz” [6]. The Sochaczew units of measure were larger than the Danzig units of measure. The meat trade also flourished greatly.

The development of artisanship was very rapid. In the 16th century, artisans from forty different trades worked in Sochaczew. The rug makers were the most prominent. The rugs from Sochaczew were very fine and expensive.

Kings and bishops purchased them. They were written in wills. Sochaczew textiles, on the other hand, were quite cheap. Those textiles were used by the common folk. In the Sochaczew castle, only the guards wore clothes made from that cloth. However, this cloth was produced in great quantities and sent throughout Poland. It went to Krakow and Poznan and into Prussia via Lublin and Zamosc.

The first privilege that we know of in Sochaczew stems from 1407. Ziemowit IV granted it. There certainly must have been older privileges, since sources from prior to the year 1368 call the city “civitas”, a name (Latin) that was given only to a large city. Specialists in medieval history believe that the first privilege was granted in Sochaczew at the beginning of that century, or even earlier. We do not know very much about the privilege of 1407, which was not preserved, and of which we only know from second hand sources. We know more about the privilege of 1434, granted by Ziemowit V, of whom we have heard regarding the war council of Wadyslaw Jagiello. This was the prototype of all later rights granted in the city. All Polish kings later confirmed this privilege. This privilege was similar to those of the other “king's cities”: Radom and Kazimierz [7].

In the 15th century, there was a hospital, and old age home and a hospital church in Sochaczew.

The dynasty of the dukes of Mazowia, who reigned in Plock, Rawa and Sochaczew, died out in 1426. Duchess Anna, mother of the recently deceased former duke and the widow of Duke Wladyslaw (who fought with the king's bodyguards under Grunwald) was bequeathed the Sochaczewer Duchy along with the castle in the city for life by her husband. In 1476, Anna, out of her own goodwill – without reckoning with the opposition of the Duke of Warsaw – gave everything to King Kazimierz Jagiellonczyk, who thereby received four cities: Bolimow, Brdow, Mszcsonow (Amszczenow) and Kolo. Earlier, the Duchy of Rawa –- relying on an agreement – united with Crown Poland and became a woyewoyda (province). In 1476, the Duchy of Sochaczew again became “The Sochaczew Land”, the motto of the fortress (which was the seat of the central administration of the entire land). The economic life of the city again began to develop normally. The kings, as has been stated, again renewed all of the privileges.

The development of the city became inhibited during the second half of the 16th century and first half of the 17th century. This was a result of the privileged positions held by the szlachta [8] in Poland, which had a similar negative influence on the economic life of all Polish cities, with the exception of the largest cities of Krakow and Warsaw. In Sochaczew, this caused only a recession in the economy, but not a catastrophe.

The catastrophe first came in the middle of the 17th century. This was caused by the Swedish war (“the flood”). The city and the castle were burnt. A portion of the population was killed, a portion was expelled, and the largest portion died from the epidemics that erupted in the wake of the war. From that time until the end of the Polish Republic (1795), Sochaczew vegetated as a small town, populated almost exclusively by Jewish poor people. It also used to serve as the confluence of the various szlachta. The churches of the Dominican and Friar-Dominican parishes were rebuilt. Since the castle had been burnt, they used to have to meet in the Dominican church.

At the time of the large scale Sejm [9] (1768-1772), when it was decided to strengthen Poland militarily, expand the army to 100,000 men, etc., a series of fortresses were rebuilt, including in Sochaczew. Unfortunately, this was only for a short duration. In 1793, at the time of the second partition of Poland in the year 1794, when the generals Duke Jozef Poniatowski and Henryk Dombrowski participated in the Kosciuszko uprising that came to a head near the Bzura behind Kamion and Sochaczew, the castle was again destroyed, and remains a ruin until this day.

In 1793, at the time of the warwith Prussia, the church parish was again burnt, and was never rebuilt.


The first information about Jews in Sochaczew comes from the 16th century. At first they were required to settle only in a few houses, and they were forbidden to circulate among Christians and to assemble publicly [10]. Only at the fairs, that is to say on the market days, were they permitted todisplay their merchandise for sale. That implies that the Jews of Sochaczew– similar to the Jews in all of the middle-sized cities of Europe – had to live in their own Jewish quarter (ghetto) at that time. In Sochaczew, this was on the Podzamcze (behind the castle).

At the time of the reign of Zygmunt August (1548-1572), there were eight houses there, and the number of individuals was approximately thirty. The Jews had their elders who governed them. The Jews, like all the other citizens of the city, paid the royal tolls and the silver tax, with the exception of the war tax, which they paid double; for Jews did not serve in the military.

The Jews paid a portion of their taxes in a natural fashion. Yearly at Wielkanoc (Easter), the owners of the houses paid the Starosta (mayor) a pound of pepper, and the tenants paid a half a pound.

The relations between the Christians and Jews at that time were not very good. The Christian citizens of the city complained that the Jews were “for us not very necessary” – for they purchase and export from the city merchandise that we need for our work such as fat, wool, leather and other items, and therefore the price of these items rises. The Polish artisans lacked raw materials; this situation caused a great opportunity for the Jews. It is very possible that the economic terrain was the cause of the legal case alleging that Jews desecrated Catholic holy places. As a result of this litigation that was caused by a Christian woman who served as a maid among Jews, Dorota Lawancka, several Jews were beheaded and burnt (a few sources, report these things differently) in the Market Place of Sochaczew. [11]

The Papal emissary Alojzy Lipoan had an influence on this evil verdict, and thanks to him, the sentence was immediately executed. On the other hand, King Stanislaw August felt very bad about this situation when he found out about it.

The delegation of szlachta of the Polish Sejm, headed by the Hetman [12] Jan Tarnowski, exploited the next sitting of the Sejm in their struggle against the Polish bishops, in order to exclude them from the Polish senate.

As is known, the delegates lost this battle.

At that time (1564), the following Jews lived in Sochaczew: Izak (Yitzchak) Roczimek who was the owner of orchards; Moshe – a carpenter; and Michael – an owner of a house.

At the time of the reign of Zygmunt III (1587-1632), there were already 22 Jewish houses in Sochaczew. However, when those houses were burnt down during a fire in the entire city (Sochaczew was often burnt down), the Jews did not hasten to rebuild them. In accordance with the royal decree, it was forbidden for “strangers” to live in Polish cities, and this was punishable by the confiscation of property and exile from the land.

Nevertheless, it was possible for them to rebuild, for the son and heir of Zygmunt III, King Wadyslaw IV (1632-1648) granted a privilege to the Jews of Sochaczew permitting them to have their own well and bathhouse as well as a synagogue upon the original property. This privilege also freed the rabbi, the teacher and the cantor of the synagogue from all taxes and statutory duties. The Jewish community possessed a synagogue and a cemetery. Apparently the community was sufficiently well to do so as to be able to build and maintain all of these institutions, even though the population was so small. It is significant that, first and foremost, they were able to have their own well.

There were always few wells in Sochaczew. Until our time, water carriers would carry water from the Bzura through the town and sell it by the bucket.

During the war with Sweden (in the middle of the 17th century), the city was completely destroyed and the population was exiled. Jews took over the abandoned houses and nobody interfered with them. Just the opposite, King Jan Kazimierz (1648-1668) issued an edict in 1658 permitting Jews to build houses in the cities of Mazowia. According to Surowiec, only Jews, on account of their low lifestyle and level of solidarity, were able to tolerate the poor conditions that prevailed in Polish cities since the middle of the 17th century.

{Photo page 38: The fire station.}

In the second half of the 17th century as well as in the 18th century, the Jews in Sochaczew became a significant majority of the population.

Their livelihood for the most part came from business with the military. For example, we know that Siemanowska, the Kasztelan of Wielun, gave a loan of 3,000 zloty to Jews. Jews also worked as artisans. At the time of the four-year Sejm (1768-1772) a Jew was employed as a tailor even in the church. He sewed all of the vestments and items that were needed for the Christian prayer services.

In the year 1749, a resident of Sochaczew, the Jew Lewka (Leib) Moszkowicz (the son of Moshe) received a certificate from King August III (1733-1763) confirming the privilege that was given to the Jews of Sochaczew by King Wladyslaw IV (the privilege that granted the right to own houses, fields, and gardens, as well as the right to deal with various businesses, including the distillation of liquor, slaughtering of animals, and selling meat in the old market).

At the time of the Kosciuszko uprising (1794), Jews, along with the other citizens of the city, donated money to assist the uprising.

When the parish church burnt down in 1793, the Jewish community took the remaining materials and built a synagogue for themselves (this was certainly the synagogue that the Germans destroyed in the last war). Thereby, the Jews were obligated that, if the church were to be rebuilt, they would have to provide either bricks, or pay 5,000 zloty. The church was not rebuilt, and the Jews never had to pay this obligation. As far as I know, the parish itself never demanded payment of this obligation.

When the city fell under Russian rule, the relations between the Polish and Jewish citizens were matter-of-fact and good. In 1905, at the time of the Polish nationalist demonstrations, the painter Rozenfeld gave a public speech which began: “I am a Jew and a Pole”, and burst out in tears.

{There is a half page footnote at the conclusion of this section, as follows:}

Janina Swierzynska, a Magister [13] of History, is an elderly woman who is currently concluding a major work “The History of Sochaczew from Olden Days until 1795” (the third partition of Poland). She sent us a précis of her work (in Polish).

Sochaczew natives know Mrs. Swierzynska due to her friendly relations with Jews prior to the war in Poland. She also provided a series of reminiscences regarding her former contacts with Jews:

In 1931 Jozek Monia was a member of the planning committee for the 50th anniversary Jubilee of the fire station. Chil Widelec excelled in his ten years of services with the fire station.

Moszek Tykocziner was a member of the first department. Yoel Gelbsztejn, Yitzchak Weinstock and Hersch Graubert played in the orchestra.

Before the First World War, the widow Rozen was employed by her father in his brewery. After her death, at the time of the First World War, her son opened up a shop on Staszic Street.

A group of pioneers studied agricultural work on a farm that belonged to the Swierzynska family, and later immigrated to the Land of Israel. This was after the First World War.

At the time of the last war, the younger citizens would sneak out the Jewish quarter. This was prior to the Jews being shipped off to Warsaw and from there to their deaths. When she came back, Szwiezsinska inquired about the fate of her brother, who was at that time in German captivity.

Mrs. Swierzynska also relates that a few years ago, archeological excavations were conducted at the market place. At that time, the magistrate's office was discovered. If she is not mistaken, prior to the war, there were three Jewish sewing stores on that area of land, which were run by the three Frumer brothers. Among other things, they found many torn Jewish books. All of these were shipped to Warsaw, and are now in the possession of the Woyewoda (regional) Conservatory.


A Score of Years as the Rabbi of Sochaczew

by Nachman Blumental

(Rabbi Shmuel Yitzchak Landau of blessed memory)

Translated by Jerrold Landau

The Organization of Sochaczew Émigrés owns a very interesting ledger, maintained most certainly by the pre First World War Sochaczew Rabbi with his own handwriting from the years 1902-1912. A score of years of Jewish life is portrayed with through his vivid view.

Truth be told, the name “ledger” does not appropriately describe this manuscript. For in it we see a chronicle of all of the occurrences that took place during a certain slice of time in a certain place, which the chronicler recorded and collected. He described everything that took place in a natural fashion. From the second side, I understand that this work is not merely a protocol book of either communal council or a specific institution (synagogue, Beis Midrash, a Mishna learning society, etc.) from the old times.

In our case, we have something more and something less than such a “simple” ledger. Something less: because its author, Rabbi Shmuel Yitzchak Landau of blessed memory, did not generally chronicle the events of his community, although this might be the most important. He made note of that which transpired as he served as the officiating rabbi in his city. He described that which he, as can be said, took care of in an official capacity. One can therefore regard this manuscript, from an observer's viewpoint, as a notation book of the communal activity of the rabbi in his time, when he lived and worked in Sochaczew. (After that, he apparently left Sochaczew.)

On the other hand, the manuscript is perhaps more than a “simple” ledger. It is tantamount to a document book, as we shall see. In that manuscript, we find documents of claim certified by others, by the interested parties, who came to the rabbi of the town, to “their” local rabbi, to ask his advice.

If the rabbi drew up some sort of agreement between the two sides, we see his signature under the agreement. If somebody had to pay a portion or the entire sum of money that was owed to someone and used the rabbi as an intermediary, the rabbi would write a confirmation in the ledger. He would do so in the language that he knew: Hebrew, Yiddish, Polish or Russian.

Thereby, that ledger contains a great amount of words of faith. It is not dry and drab. One gets a feel of variegated colors in his full language.

Externally: The manuscript consists of two parts. One is written as a bookkeeping ledger in large format with red and blue lines – horizontal and vertical – and is written solely in Russian. It consists of 22 pages, written on both sides. Apparently, the beginning is missing from the book. Since the pages are not numbered, and we only have one hard tablet of the binding (the second), we cannot estimate how much is missing.

The note book was apparently written for the authorities. That explains the language – Sochaczew belonged at the time to the Warsaw Gubernia and was a part of Congress Poland, which belonged to Russia. It contains lists, certificates from people, mainly from people who were getting married. These certificates were read out three times in the synagogue, as was required by the law [14].

That portion of the manuscript begins from 1902 and ends in 1905. We have 54 such certificates from 1902, 76 from 1903, and 54 from 1904. (The final note is from December 27th. Following it is number 55, but without any contents.)

We have 25 such certificates from 1905 (the final certificate is from May 31, which is from slightly less than half of the year).

The numbers 26-31 are written in the first column from the year 1905, but further contents are missing. Evidently, the end of the book is also missing.

On the empty area of the last side, there are notices of paid money with names, written with a feather and lead in Polish. This is evidently from a later era.

These lists – the total number is 209 – tell us the number of weddings that took place between Sochaczewer Jews – at the minimum with one side being from Sochaczew – in the aforementioned years. The first note, bearing the number 1, is from January 8, 1902 (perhaps until that time there were no weddings) until May 31, 1905.

Here is the contents of the first notice, in Yiddish translation: “On January 8, 1902, a certificate of banns was issued for the wedding in the Sochaczew Jewish synagogue between the young man Moshe Bendkower, 23 years old, the son of the late Yankel and Chana, and the young woman Hinda Ester Szpigiel, 29 years old, the daughter of the late Shlomo and Pesel Chaya. The first reading took place on the 22nd, the second on the 29th of December 1901, and the third on January 5th of the current year.” On the side, the word “signed” is written with a different pen and different handwriting. (Perhaps someone from the authorities, who audited the books, signed.) For someone who seeks knowledge about family life in Sochaczew of that time, this book is obviously an important source.

Aside from that certificate, we have here twelve notes about documents that were given over by the authorities through the rabbinate, as follows:

1. On January 24, 1902, a declaration was sent to the court of peace that Moshe Kohan and Perl Lea Diamant are in agreement regarding the 4 Rubles and 20 Kopeks that Kohan demanded from Diamant. Since the judge desired an oath from Kohan, it fell away, since Kohan declared that he had no more demands from the woman. Evidently, the claimant decided to forego his demand in order to avoid swearing.
The fear of an oath (possibly even of a true oath) held many Orthodox Jews from having a judgement and having his rights taken care of in an public, non-Jewish court [15].

There was a similar document regarding another judgment between Efraim Kac and Wolf Litowski, and others.

Again on the 3rd of May of the same year, the rabbinate issued a certificate to Itzik Izak Najman that he was well versed in the laws of the Jewish faith and in the Hebrew language. Evidently this relates to the issue of whether he ought to be able to teach Jewish children “Zakon Bozi” [16] in an open school, or perhaps open his own cheder. Such a certificate was also issued to Shaya Yona Nut, Yisrael Zelwer, Michael Rozen and others in the same year.

Among the certificates, we find also one that confirmed that such and such a Jew was a resident of the city, and therefore should be protected from expulsion from the city.

On the tablet of the manuscript we also find a certificate with the date 1912 in an orthographical, error-ridden Polish with a signature of Jakob Morgensztern from Czekanow confirming that he owes the rabbi 30,000 (?) rubles.

Aside from this manuscript, we have a second, notated in a wide-ruled notebook, unnumbered, in which a great amount was certainly missing. As with the first, this book, which is smaller, has only one hard tablet. That book is missing the beginning, and evidently the end.

That book includes various cards, notes, letters, and… promissory notes.

That manuscript is a sort of a catchall; a hodge-podge of various types of issues (including private matters), that a rabbi in a city such as Sochaczew (which is a regional city) had to take care of. We can find matters there that would normally pertain to various offices of the secular society. First of all, we have there a row of annotated Gets [17], which is the work of a rabbi. Second, there are records of all sorts of controversies among the Jewish residents that were brought to the rabbi for adjudication, rather than before the “Kazionem” court [18]. However what is novel is that disputes between Jews and Poles also came before the rabbi. The rabbi issued decisions even on such matters. The Poles evidently had more trust in the Jewish rabbi than the Russian judge… who in general did not have an overly positive reputation. Czarist Russia, as is known, was known throughout the world for bribery. That local official would have certainly taken from whoever would have given something to him in that regard.

That second section of manuscripts numbers 73 cards (aside from the empty ones), mostly written on both sides; aside from 50 various cards and notes (in a different format from the book).

The portion that was recorded with care and is of interest to us begins with the year 5663 (1903). It begins with a list – from the month of Adar – of people to whom the rabbi issued a hechsher [19] for a variety of items and products. Following that, there is information about Gets, exemptions, etc.

The first notice: “Today, Wednesday, 13th of Tammuz 5663, the woman Rachel the daughter of Yitzchak Meir was divorced from her husband, Mordechai Yisrael Yehoshua, and received a notice confirming such.”

Then there is a long list of names of people who received exemptions from various “bonds” so that they would be able to marry of a son or a daughter. For a researcher of Jewish family life in general, and of Jewish life in Sochaczew itself and the surrounding area, this material is first class.

Suddenly, there is this type of announcement: “To make note of the fact that on Wednesday, 5663 (1903) the woman Chana Rachel the wife of Reb Yechezkel Zimler from the village of Witkowicz in this region came and announced that a few weeks prior from this time, her daughter, the young girl Dvora Reizel, approximately 4 years old, lost her virginity by jumping.” [20]

After that there is another list of Gets, in accordance with the appropriate style.

After that, there is a long chain of certificates stating that certain Jews left the rabbi money in order to repay debts that they owed to others; afterwards there are certificates from those whose debts were in official hands – delivered from the rabbi's hand. An entire accounting! How much trust did the people have in their rabbi! For the most part, it deals with decision which the two sides fulfilled. The rabbi was the judge and also the executor of the decision. The rabbi conducted correspondence with both parties, warned them, made sure that both sides would be in peace, and finally come to an agreement that both sides would agree to.

A little bit later, there is a promissory note written by the rabbi, indicating that the signer of the note could not pay the amount on one occasion. The rabbi dragged out the money slowly from the signer until the entire promissory note was paid off. The plaintiff signed underneath – all in the same ledger – that he has no more complaints against the defendant.

And now there was a difficult problem that tormented the rabbi, regarding how to write the Jewish name in a Get so that it will be in accordance with the law. It should not, G-d forbid, be missing a letter, and that there should not be any superfluous mark in the text of the Get, so that it should not be invalid [21]. The Rabbi writes: On Thursday of the Torah portion of Shoftim, 4th Elul 5670 (1910), the woman Branah (it was written with an 'h' at the end because thus did she sign, and with an aleph after the resh, and a he after the nun) the daughter of Berish (in the book Mayim Chaim, Berish is written without the yod) was divorced. It was unclear if his Hebrew name was Yisachar or Dov; therefore it is written that everybody calls him Berish). She was divorced from her husband who was known as Hershel. (There were two Gets there. In one, Hershel was written in accordance with the Hatam Sofer. Everyone reads the name with a segol [22] should write the name Hershel with an ayin after the he, without a yod. It was written with a nickname as Hershil [23], the reason being because his signature was always such. The opinion of the decision is already known, and therefore to remove all doubt, I have written two Gets.). The son of Moshe Aharon – – –

In order not to, Heaven forbid, make an error, the rabbi had to write two Gets: one with the name Hershel and the other with the name Hershil.

The same thing happened with the name Gedalia, where he wrote it once with the name Gedaliahu (with a vov at the end). On another occasion, the rabbi had difficulty with the name Leibish or Libish – this took place with regard to some sort of dispute between Hirsch Leib Jakubowicz (who could barely sign) and the gentile Stanislaw Bondanowicz. The rabbi obligated the Jew to pay “to Herr [24] Stanislaw” the sum of 8.75 rubles each Rosh Chodesh – until he has paid off the entire loan of 35 rubles.

The gentile, unfortunately, had to know when Rosh Chodesh [25] occurred in order to know when to expect a payment.

The “uncircumcised” [26] Stanislaw was not the only one who came to the rabbi for litigation and one the case!

There is even a contract of sale in which a Jew rents to a gentile a mill and sells to him horses and saddles of all types, for a non-insignificant sum in those days – 15,000 rubles. The contract is written in Hebrew (which was certainly explained and translated for the Pole). It explicitly states, “I have rented to the uncircumcised Szikorski”. The uncircumcised man seemed to have not found an explanation for the words and sooner went to the rabbi than a non-Jewish notary. It is also quite possible that, aside from his trust in the rabbi, the gentile was certain that Jew would sooner obey a contract signed by the rabbi – as the Poles would call it “Pod Cherm” – than a contract signed by a Russian official.

It is also possible that the situation was helped by the fact that the rabbi would certainly have been cheaper than a gentile notary!

Here is another type of issue: a young man came and complained that his wife had not become pregnant. A difficult matter. What should the rabbinical court (consisting of three judges) do? It did not issue a decision on the spot. However, it did obligate the woman to travel to Warsaw to visit “an expert doctor”, so that he could investigate and assert “if she is according to the way of all the woman, or if, through some sort of therapy, she could be the way of all the woman”. With one word, the court understood the matter as would a modern court. I wish to add, not strictly in accordance with halacha [27]. They turned to an expert, a person, a scientist, to express his opinion, so that they would know how to deal with the situation.

There is recorded something that would arouse the suspense of the reader – a sort of criminal story.

A woman came to the rabbi and complained that her husband had disappeared a little while previously. They did not know where he had perished. She gave some details about what happened, a description of her husband, and the like. A little time later, the rabbi accepted a testimony from a Jew who saw a corpse out in the field. He gave a description of the corpse as he had seen it. He declared, “He had slightly white, yellowish {!) eyebrows, and the hairs of his beard were yellowish”. On the basis of this testimony, the rabbi determined that this was the husband of the woman who had earlier come with her complaint that her husband had disappeared.

It is a shame that we do not have any further details regarding this case. Perhaps this is because we did not have the entire ledger, but only a section of it. On the other side, the case, being a capital case, was not in the jurisdiction of the rabbi but rather of the local governing authorities, who had certainly investigated such a matter. The rabbi would have had no connection with this case. He only had interest in the question of the woman: is she an aguna or a widow? [28] From so far away, we see the matter being played out in the ledger of the rabbi. If the ledger had been written somewhat differently there would have been a great deal of writing there – about the murder itself, where it took place, why, etc. The rabbi, on the other hand, in his official capacity, did not include any description of private matters or experiences. It was strictly a journal of his activities as a rabbi – had he taken interest in the case, he would have gone beyond the bounds of his legal capacity.

Here we have a second case of the same type.

About six years earlier, a man left his wife in the town of Leczyza and never returned. Then it mentions that a Jew from Sochaczew, approximately six years previously (on the day after the Festival of Shavuot, 5662 – 1902) found a drowned man on the banks of the Wisla River near Sochaczew. He had a scald mark on his hand. This was the exact sign that the widow had given…

And a third case…

A Jewish woman came to the rabbi and explained that her husband had left and not returned. He had been sick, and she went with him to several doctors. Some of the doctors told her that he had a very weak heart, and some of them told her that he was nervous. He indeed appeared nervous, for he always told her that he was going to die…” Indeed, when the Wisla calmed down in the summertime, they found a dead body on the banks of the river, with the same signs and same clothing that the woman had described (he was wearing suspenders with flowers, and a collar with a black tie. She also said that he was wore a silver watch with dviske [29] chain, with embedded pebbles of various colors.)

Only the clock with the “dviske” chain did the woman not describe, for they are “under the hand of the sledevatil” [30], investigator (why explicitly this?!). The woman also recognized the blue pen that was on him, since she had seen that blue pen being given by her husband to their son to play with… A fascinating and sad story! Even here the rabbi does not give any excess details.

Of the great many deeds, relating to various matters, that the rabbi deal with in an official capacity, a reasonable number [31] – as is understandable in our situation – were devoted to disputes between partners (monetary matters). People came to the rabbi for litigation. He issued a decision, and the sides accepted his decision and signed accordingly. The promissory notes and receipts were deposited with the rabbi on contingency; people also pay through him into the various councils, and he returns the written notes of obligation. Everything is recorded in the same ledger.

The rabbi in this case was not only the judge (in important cases, he served as the head of the rabbinical court, and took two other rabbis to assist him, or he acts as an arbitrator and the two sides choose adjudicators), but he also served as executor. If one of the sides does not uphold the agreement, he sends a warning to him, threatens him, and pesters him until he gives in.

The rabbi is also the confidant of both sides, and plays the role of a bank. He lends out money, pays out, etc. All of this belongs to the rabbi of a small town.

And among the debts that he pays, he also has his own, private ones.

Contracts sealed between two Jews for a partnership for a specific period of time form another section of work that is conducted by the rabbi. This is a very interesting chapter, and one can learn a great deal from it regarding the economic life of the Jews in those places in those times. A large number of Jews were occupied with leasing summer orchards from the farmers. These contracts specify precisely what the partners put into the business, what they must do, and how they will divide up the profits. One side of the business is the “arel” (uncircumcised person) from whom one rents the orchard. His participation is also precisely defined. That work in the orchard is sometimes referred to as “haganot” [32] in the ledger. Jews were also occupied in the grain business. They did not only enter into business ties with “arels”, but also with the “poretz” [33], the owner of the village, the possessor. The rabbi does not refer to him as the “arel”, but rather as the “adon” (“master” (Master Gorecki, Master Sendziekowski, who leased the “shveig” to Jews, etc.[34]). Such a master sells a large quantity of wheat to Jews, or released a large orchard to Jews, etc.

An other type of trade that the Jews in the city occupied themselves with was the “shmatte trade” [35]. Here as well, a partnership was created for the work. Three types of “shmattes” (cloths) were specified in the contracts: 1) smooth cloths; 2) scraps; 3) singed cloth. Incidentally, specialists defined the difference between these types.

We did not record all of the trades that are listed in the ledger, and with which Jews from Sochaczew and its environs occupied themselves. I wish to emphasize that it was not only with trades that Jews were occupied, sitting an entire day in a store waiting for a purchaser to come in, who would often return to Jews and non-Jews [36].

Issues of weddings, divorces, breaking of matches, and birth of children occupy more place in the ledger than business dealings do. More than once, these are all recorded on one and the same side: it is specified that on a certain day, the wedding took place between the groom – who is so and so years old – with the bride – who is so and so years old.

(Incidentally, I noticed that in many cases, the bride was significantly older than the groom. Was this perhaps a problem that is worthwhile for us to take interest in?)

Then, the parents of the engaged couple come to the rabbi and wish to break off the engagement. The rabbi was called upon to return the gifts that the groom had received from the bride's side. The bride also had to return the gifts that she had received from the groom's side, etc. Only after the end of the long negotiations does the rabbi make a point: if the sides regret what is presently taking place… that if there is a way out for the angry groom and bride to reconcile, perhaps they can become appeased…

In apposition to the brief notices of weddings, we have even briefer notices regarding the death of so and so. The rabbi recorded who brought the news to him, and where the even took place.

A little further on, we have a notice that such and such a woman gave information that she had given birth to a child on such and such a day. Sometimes he dealt with a birth that had taken place several years earlier! One would come to inform the rabbi when there was a need to do so. To simply go to an office to present information that a child had been born was not “wishing words” [37] in those days. Jews did not hurry to do so.

From the large scale and broad work of the rabbi, which encompassed dozens of small settlements that did not have their own judge – one can see the level of trust that people placed in him – both Jews and gentiles.

Among the numerous cards that are lying in manuscript, one finds a letter written in Polish from a Pole to a Jew, informing him that he should come on a specific day to the “Sendzia” (that is the government judge) and sign an deed – “in accordance with what the rabbi has decreed”.

He noted everything with such modesty and restraint. There were no overly “harsh” words. The sides understood the hints, so the sides did not have to annotate a long “deed of sale”. An agreement, a compromise, or a legal decision. He shunned branding the debtor, he sought a way of compromise, a way out for the two sides. With few words, he gives over the essence of the matter, without deliberating over the details.

We can imagine how much time the rabbi spent hearing out the sides, how many cuss-words each of the disputants honored the other side with (and perhaps even more than cuss-words), how many complaints and reasons they placed before the rabbi – all of this is not registered in the protocol. The rabbi issued his decisions briefly and sharply. His words resulted in “Peace upon Israel”!

From the following notice, we can see how far the authority and influence of the rabbi extended:

“We accept upon ourselves to make peace between us from this day forward, not to cause any controversy, Heaven forbid, not to pursue each other in matters of livelihood, and not to cause damage, Heaven forbid, in matters regarding the body or money. We forgive each other completely with regard to any matters that took place up to this time, and with regard to all types of disputes and arguments that took place between us. We affix our signatures to this on Thursday, the fourth Intermediate Day of Sukkot, and we accept all of the above upon ourselves.”

Four signatures appear under this.

We do not know at this time what the basis of dispute was between the four Jews, and we also do not know who they four Jews were. We do know that these were four toiling Jews, and from their signatures we can deduce that holding a pen in their hand was not a simple matter for them! These Jews had significant worries abut livelihood, and therefore the disputes (usually with regard to competition). However, finally, the goodwill between the sides, and certainly also the influence of the rabbi, prevailed upon them to come together and forgive each other completely. This did not take place on the eve of Yom Kipper (when such events usually take place), but rather on the Intermediate Days of Sukkot! [38]

Aside from such items, we find in the manuscript – on various pages – lists of Jews who sold their Chometz to the rabbi on the eve of Passover, so that the rabbi can sell it afterwards to an “arel”. [39]

One list, from the year 5668 (1908) contains 206 entries. Only number 20 is missing.

In order to characterize the typical material that is found in this list, you will permit me to bring down one such entry.

“97. Reb Aharon Bester from the village of Tranow of the community of Chodokruw [40] rented the storehouse that he owns in the aforementioned village, and also the attic above his place of residence; and he sold all types of Chometz, questionable Chometz, vessels and sacks of Chometz. He retained the rights of walking through those areas. He also sold all of the standing fowl (!) in that aforementioned attic, aside from one turkey… [41]
The second list from the year 5660 (1900) contains 213 entries (it is missing everything until number 20). A third list, from the year 5671 (1911), numbers 211. So many Jews signed over their Chometz to the rabbi!

What can we learn from the dry and sparse facts that we find in these lists?

First of all, we discover [42] that we find here the names of many Jews who lived in villages in the near and far vicinity of the city of Sochaczew. This includes a few small villages where Jews later did not live on account of the anti-Semitic situation. However, 50-60 years ago, the Jews lived and work peacefully there. From these lists we also see that, on more than one occasion, a Jew lived together with a gentile in a house. On more than one occasion, a Jew rented a room or a stable from an arel (as they were called by the author), and peacefully earned their peace of bread (they were certainly not excessively wealthy individuals!)

From the “things” that the Jews signed over in their sale of Chometz, we can derive their occupations. It should be emphasized that a large number of Jews – both in the regional city of Sochaczew and in the province – had stalls with horses or cows. That means that they were coachmen, horse dealers, or dairymen – selling milk or producing “products that are derived from milk”, as they are called in our manuscript.

From other things that are recorded in those lists, grain stands out, which Jews held in their granaries (as they are indeed called in the Hebrew of the rabbi [43].

The language of the ledger is interesting. As is known, our rabbis were not expert in grammar. The gender of the word, especially in a verb, does not interest them. A present tense instead of a past tense, or vice versa, is also not an error to them.

The large number of Yiddish words that we find in the text is also characteristic. I believe that in such cases, the rabbi did not know the appropriate Hebrew word. It is clear that this is a reason, but not the only one. There is also another, more important, reason. This is the precision which typifies our author. A Hebrew word might not describe the thing with exact precision. The meaning that the old Hebrew word (that the rabbi knew from the Bible) connoted might have become obsolete with the passage of time. The former Hebrew noun may not portray today's reality. Therefore, the writer must use a Yiddish word that designates the matter in a unique manner, is understood by everybody, and is not prone to misinterpretation. He was dealing here with important judicial documents; things must be the clearest of the clear.

A rabbi would certainly not be familiar with new Hebrew words, and a half a century ago, he would certainly not have used such [44]. Only Yiddish words remained.

Another category of foreign words in our manuscript are those of international application, or those that would be impressive to the Russian authorities. For example, the word “sond” stands out – the Russian court. By the use of this word, the author makes it clear to everybody that he is not referring to a Beis Din (rabbinical court). A Hebrew word here could only cripple the situation.

Here is a partial list of Yiddish and other foreign words that we encounter very often in our ledger, which was written in Hebrew.

The Apotek, near a hreient, the balkon, a broiz, viorst, hotelmacher, hatovoziszstvoya [45].

Oysgeshikevet for a gevelb, virok, sond, smattes (shmattes), on nochname, handshlag. [46].

Veksl, em Novirok (Gentile for New Year) [47].

In the matter of trepin, the oficina, the fatziat, regarding the plimp (from a well), a tzentin (a tenth person), regarding the plan, a store of bakalia, restaratzia, to give him reyentovey, akt, fierkosa, kastenes, flashin, the striz, the stall that is zayzod, frachtstantzia, servetet [48], the shenkl, the bofet, the shank, the first shtok, the second shtok, etc., the platz [49].

An address is written as none other than in the following example: “In the city of Lodz, old city, number [50]…”, or “under number”. Protestn [to protest], kvitel [a note], receptn [probably receipts], podlage, shines, kvitantzia [a receipt of check], kavtzia, the tzene [cost] on the new dwelling, according to the tzene, the stall, the stall of birds (lul!) [lul being a known Hebrew word for chicken coop], the beidl [booth]. Shetzkarnia (shetshkarnia, where one cuts straw on sietshke), three morges [three acres], a room called magazin, a measure of wheat of 4 zere [evidently a measure of volume], 3 zere… rozovka.

There are also words that later fell into disuse. Thus, we encounter a few times the words “Shveig” or “Shvag”. This means that Jews leased from the poretz the entire quantity of milk that came from his cow, and made dairy products from it (cheese, sour cream, etc.). Similar words, such as sodzinkes and yarkelech belong to this category.

From this standpoint as well, the ledger is an interesting and educational document.

This manuscript has an entirely different value for Jews of Sochaczew. It reminds them of their own past. Among the lists of names, among the written incidents, they might perhaps find themselves. If not, they will certainly find their acquaintances, relatives. Who knows if perhaps they might find their own parents, and certainly their grandparents!

This dry, matter-of-fact document will be near and homelike to us. It is a bit of our cut off past, a piece of our own essence!

We bring down here one of the characteristic agreements that we find in the ledger. We bring it down word for word, without changing anything. Our own remarks appear in parentheses.

This is a memorial that on Tuesday of the year 5669 (1909) Reb Mordechai Pinczewski and Reb Binem Frumer from this holy city came before me. Reb Mordechai Pinczewski gave a contract to Reb Binem Frumer that he could live in the dwelling that he had lived in from today for another two (!) years, from Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan of the year 5670 until Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan of the year 5672 for the sum of 450 Rubles a year. A condition exists between them that if during the course of the two years [51] Reb Mordechai increases the payment that he set for this house, and if he furnishes another shop [52], then the aforementioned Reb Binem Frumer can live there for a third year, that is until Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan of the year 5673 for the aforementioned sum of 450 rubles. However the choice shall be in the hands of Reb Mordechai Pinczewski to decide regarding Reb Binem Frumer, that is, he has the authority to give the aforementioned Reb Binem another store (!) with living quarters in the aforementioned house. However, the tzene (!) [53] of the new dwelling with the store will be as is recorded (!) by three men who are expert in the value of the new store with the dwellings. All of this was agreed upon by means of a kinyan sudar [54] to establish the situation as stated above. They also affixed their signatures to affirm the aforementioned.

On such and such a day, such and such a year

Mordechai Pinczewski
Simcha Binem the son of Yitzchak Menachem of blessed memory Frumer


  1. There is a Polish footnote here at the bottom of the page, as follows: “Juliana Ursyna Niemcewicz. Podroze historyezne po ziemiach polskich miedzy rokiem 1811 a 1828 odbyte – Paryz 1858”. Return
  2. Polish for marketplace. Return
  3. Polish for Lawrence. Return
  4. The word used here is “fuerstentum”, which is German for duchy. Return
  5. The dates given here are obviously incorrect. They should be in the 1600s. Return
  6. A unit of measure, possibly a quart. Return
  7. The Yiddish spelling here is closer to Czwizmir or Tzuizmir, and does not resemble the spelling of the occurrences of the proper name 'Kazimierz' in this section – however I could not identify a town with that spelling. Return
  8. Szlachta are the Polish noblemen (literally 'landed gentry'). Return
  9. Polish parliamentary gathering. Return
  10. There is a footnote on this page: This is according to the work of Y. Trunk, which in this connection is accurate. Return
  11. See the history section by Y. Trunk on page 607 for more detail on this incident. Return
  12. 'Hetman' is an official Polish government position. Return
  13. The Polish equivalent of a Master's Degree. Return
  14. This is obviously referring to the secular law at the time. These certificates would be marriage banns. Return
  15. An oath is considered a serious matter in Jewish law at the best of times. This would be particularly true if administered in a gentile court. Return
  16. Zakon means “monastery” or “convent”, Bozi refers to god. I suspect that this is a Polish term for religious studies. Return
  17. A Get is a Jewish bill of divorce. The Get is given by the husband (or emissary) to the wife. Then it is returned to the rabbinical court for safekeeping, and a document is given to the wife certifying that a Get was given, and that she is divorced. Return
  18. Seemingly a secular court. Return
  19. A certificate of kashruth. Return
  20. Evidently, such a note was meant to protect the girl's status of a virgin upon marriage, should a question arise. Interestingly, the specific date is missing in this note. Return
  21. The consequences of an invalid Get are quite severe in Jewish law. If the wife remarried without a proper Get, the children of the second marriage would be considered 'mamzerim' ('bastards' for want of a better word). Return
  22. The soft 'e' vowel. Return
  23. With a yod after the shin. The correct spelling of a name on a Get is a prerequisite for validity. This is the reason for the entire complex spelling discussion here. Return
  24. Literally “Herl”, seemingly a Yiddish diminutive of the German 'Herr' – Mr. Return
  25. The New Moon, which marks the beginning of the Jewish month. Return
  26. 'Arel' – a term stressing his gentile status. Return
  27. Traditional Halacha did not deal with the possibility of therapy for infertility. Return
  28. An aguna is a woman who is bound to her husband, whose death cannot be determined definitively. Such a woman is not allowed to remarry. The term is used in modern parlance for a woman who is bound to a husband who refused to issue a Get. Return
  29. I am not sure of the meaning of this term. It is evidently a type of watch, perhaps a brand name. Return
  30. This word means 'investigator'. Return
  31. The word really means “economical” or “thrifty”. I am not sure if this means “a small amount”, or “a reasonable amount”. I chose the latter from the context. Return
  32. Hebrew for “the gardens”. Return
  33. A “poretz” is the landowner. Return
  34. I am not sure what “shveig” means here. It usually means “under one's hat”, or “quiet”. Return
  35. A shmatte is a rag, but in this connotation refers to cloth. Interestingly enough, the term used here is 'smatte' (with the s rather than the sh sound). However, the term is defined in parentheses as 'shmatte'. The sh sound is pronounced as s by Lithuanian Jews, so I am not sure what the implication is here. Return
  36. This sentence is garbled in the original. I am not sure of its intended meaning. Return
  37. Seemingly a term for “appropriate custom”. Return
  38. The fourth Intermediate Day of Sukkot occurs ten days after Yom Kippur. Return
  39. It is forbidden for a Jew to own leavened products on Passover (let alone eat them). As it is often impractical to dispose of one's entire stock of leavened products, it is possible to arrange a sale of such to a gentile. These leavened products then do not have to be moved out of the house, but they do have to be cordoned off. The individual Jews designate the rabbi as the agent to transact the sale with a gentile. After Passover, the sale in terminated (the legal intricacies are beyond the scope of this footnote), and the ownership reverts to the individual Jews. Return
  40. I could not identify these locations. Return
  41. The text itself inserted the exclamation mark here – as the selling of livestock as Chometz is not the usual custom. Return
  42. The literal term used here is “it is thrown in our eyes”. Return
  43. The Yiddish term here is “shpeichler”, meaning granary. The implication here is that the rabbi recorded his notes in Hebrew, but used the Yiddish word in a Hebrew sentence. Return
  44. The early 1900s was the very beginning of the renaissance of the modern Hebrew language. This renaissance brought with it many new words for concepts that did not exist in ancient Hebrew. Return
  45. I am not able to identify many of these words in this and the following paragraph. Apotek is a pharmacy. Balkon is a balcony. Broiz is Yiddish for brewery. Viorst (verst) is a Russian unit of distance. Hatelmacher might be a hat-maker, although the spelling here is unconventional. Return
  46. Oysgeshikevet a gevelb is Yiddish for “to furnish a store”. Virok has something to do with the Slavic word for year (see next paragraph). Sond seems to be Russian for a court, as previously mentioned. Shmattes / Smattes are dealt with in a previous footnote. Nochname might mean surname – but it is unconventional. Handshlag might mean a beating administered with the hands. Return
  47. Veksl is a promissory note or I.O.U. Return
  48. The text inserts a note here indicating that the end part 'tet' has variation with an aleph and an ayin. Return
  49. Plimp is a pump. Fierkosa is a safe (i.e. a place to store valuables). Kastenes might mean 'chests' (i.e. places to store valuables). Flashin are bottles. Frachtstanzia might have something to do with freight. Shenkl is a locker or cabinet. Shank is a cabinet. Shtok is a story of a building, so the first shtok is the first story. Platz is a space or lot. Return
  50. The word 'number' is here in Yiddish. For the rest of the paragraph I will put my comments in square brackets. Return
  51. The original switches from Hebrew to Yiddish here, in mid-sentence. The Yiddish in the next line is spelled very unconventionally. Return
  52. The text switches back to Hebrew here. Return
  53. A term for cost or payment. Return
  54. A 'kinyan sudar' (contract sealed by the cloth), is a form of transferring ownership within Jewish law, whereas the owner picks up a piece of cloth or other simple object in lieu of the object that is transferring ownership. The picking up of the cloth effects the formal transfer of ownership. The kinyan sudar is frequently used today in Jewish ritual contracts – including at the sale of Chometz prior to Passover. Return

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