[Page 43 - Yiddish] [Page 35 - Hebrew]
by Meyshe Kaganovitsh, Tel Aviv
To our regret we were not successful--despite all efforts--in finding documents and sources about the beginning of the Jewish settlement in Ivye. Many of those, as it happened in our kehile, were sketched in the pinkes of the khevre-kadishe [burial society], which was burned up during the big fire in May, 1929. There is no doubt either that there is material of great significance in the archives of the Counts' families: Radziwil, Sapieha, Tyzenhauz and Zamojski--the land-owners in Ivye for several periods, as well as in the archives of the courts of law in Lide, Vilne, Oshmene, Minsk and others.
It is also likely that material about Jews in Ivye is available in the chronicles of the Catholic parish in Ivye. And the gravestones in the Jewish cemetery would be able to enrich our knowledge in that area. The iron curtain and the fact that we are torn away from the town, allows no chance of getting material out. The stubborn efforts of the recently deceased historian Dr. Gelber zl to discover other sources on our town, had no positive results.
We collected this bit of material, literally scraps, crumbs. Thus we will not put on airs and say that we are presenting a detailed and complete monograph of the Jewish settlement in Ivye. We present that which we have collected with much trouble.
A. Ivye--Geographic-Demographic and Statistic Particulars
Ivye, spelled in Hebrew, Yiddish, Polish, Russian, and in Rabbinic literature. According to Professor Yisroel Heylperin, in his tractate Geographic Names in Hebrew Sources (Loshonu, p. 236) writes the name of the town: [alef-yud-vov-vov-yud-yud].
The source of the name of the town is not clear enough. According to one version, the town carries the name of one of the counts of the Zamojski family (the land-owners of the town) who was called Ivan. In another version, the town draws its name from the owner of a mill in very early times--Ivok; or even from the name of the stream that cuts through the town--Ivyenka (although it could also be the opposite: that the river took its name from the town).
Ivye lies on the north side between 561 530 degrees latitude, and 261 430 longitude east of Greenwich. The town lies at an elevation of 157 meters above sea level.
Ivye has belonged, since its first existence (1538, or 1631) to the Great Lithuanian Duchy, and since the Polish-Lithuanian Union it was under Polish rule. It is not known to which of the two provinces, Vilne or Troki, Ivye belonged.
After the second partition of Poland (1795), while the greater part of Poland was under Russian rule, and until the German occupation in the time of the First World War (1915), Ivye was joined to the Vilne province, the district of Oshmiane.
In the period of Polish rule, in the years 1920 to 1939, Ivye belonged administratively to the Novogrudek area, and the district of Lide (with the exception of the years 1920 to 1925, when Ivye belonged to the district of Volozshin).
In the years of Soviet domination (1939 to 1941) Ivye was an independent district, and had its own leadership organs: Raispolkom (district executive) and Raikom (district board of the Communist Party). Administratively, Ivye now belonged to the Baranovitsh oblast in the framework of the White Russian Soviet Socialist Republic, with its capital in Minsk.
Today Ivye belongs to the Grodne province (but a few years earlier, to Molodetshne), in the framework of the WRSSR [White Russian Soviet Socialist Republic].
The distance between Ivye and her neighboring towns is: to the train station Gavie, 9 kilometers; to the town Lipnishki, 13 kilometers; to the closest district town, Lide, 42 kilometers; to Vilne, 147 kilometers; to Novogrudek, 35 kilometers; to Oshmene, 65 kilometers; to Volozshin, 50 kilometers.
The population: Poles (of Catholic faith), White Russians and Russians (Orthodox), Tatars (Muslims) and Jews.
According to the census of the population in 1847, there were 804 Jewish souls in Ivye. In 1897 only 573 Jews lived in Ivye (?!). The non-Jewish population numbered 3,080 souls at the time. In general the population of Ivye in 1897 totaled 3,653 souls, and the percentage of Jews was 15.7.
During the census that was conducted by the Polish government in 1921, 2,076 Jews lived in Ivye, and 655 non-Jews, together 2,731 souls. The Jews at that time numbered 76 percent of the general population.
According to the count that the Jewish kehile carried out in Ivye, in 1938, there were 3,025 Jews in our little town.
Of all the censuses, the most astonishing is the count carried out by the tsar's government in 1897. It is clear that the census included the non-Jewish population from the entire area, that is, all the villages in the neighborhood that belonged to the district board of Ivye. The shrinkage of the Jewish population from 804 in 1847, to 573 in 1897, bears no interpretation. The big emigration to America began in the beginning of the twentieth century, and therefore it is assumed that the received information is simply an error.
The Polish census of 1921 reflects the correct situation. It is worthwhile to add, that in the total of 655 non-Jewish souls--according to the census of 1921--the population of Muravshtshizne, the Tatars, and the village Zakoshtsheltsa, were also reckoned in.
B. The Rise of Ivye and Her Proprietors
The settlement itself rose up, it seems, just before Jews settled there. In the early times Ivye belonged to the family Kiszka. One of that family, Mikolai of Tshekhonovtse, was the constable of Troki, and the finance minister of the Lithuanian Duchy. According to several Polish sources, Mikolai Kiszka was the military governor of Mshtshislav, and governor of Vilkoshev. In 1538 or 1631 (according to different sources) the above-mentioned Kiszka allowed the building of a church and a monastery for the Bernardina Order. He was also concerned for their existence, and on the 10th of June 1633, he gave them the gift of a yearly sum of 200 Polish gildn and other income from his estates. The Bernardina monastery in Ivye possessed one of the largest libraries--489 books. Until the first quarter of the 19th century, a religious school under the name Retoryka existed at the monastery.
The land of Ivye was later given into the hands of the family Sluzhko, exactly, into the hands of Katarina Januszowa (of the house of Kishko). In 1662 the above-mentioned transferred her inheritance to the name of the family Karol and Katarina Radziwil-Hlebovitsh. After their death the land of the town was inherited by their daughters, Marcybela Marcyanowa Oginska--the wife of the governor of Troki and the chancellor of Lithuania, and also Kristina Sapiezyna, the wife of the governor of Polock.
After the death of the Oginskas, Ivye was given into the hands of the family Sapieha. In 1686 they gave the ownership of Ivye to the family Tyzenhauz, and the great family Zamojski inherited it from them. The Zamojskis were the owners of the land on which the town of Ivye was built, that encompassed an area of tens of thousands of hectares of garden-land and primeval forests.
The princely family did not live in their yard, which was close to the town. Their estates were run by agronomists, directors and stewards. They came very rarely from their big cities in Poland, or from abroad (where they lived a rich, extravagant life) for a short visit and for hunting in the dense forests. It is superfluous to add that the family of the Polish counts--the founders of the town and the owners of the land,with whose permission the Jews of the town built their houses and synagogue--were the masters over them for better or for worse. The Jews paid a yearly tax to the treasury of the Count for the land that their house was built on, for the honor of being able to pasture their horses and cows in the meadows, and were dependent upon the loving kindness of the Count and his representative, the steward. In the twenties of this century, the tax was abolished, for a one-time payment that had to be delivered to the treasury of the count.
C. The Ivye Kehile in the Vad medines Lite [Council of the Land of Lithuania]
According to all sources, the Jewish settlement first appeared in Ivye in the first quarter of the 17th century. At the gathering of the plenum of the Vad medines Lite in 1626, which took place in Brisk, the name Meyshe from Ivye was mentioned among the tax-payers for the Vad. At an earlier meeting of the plenum which took place in the month of Elul,1623, in Brisk, during which names of various kehiles in Lite were mentioned, in relation to their administrative connection to one of the three main kehiles of the state board--Brisk, Horodne (Grodne) and Pinsk--the name of the Ivye kehile was not mentioned, although it should not be deduced from that that the Jewish settlement did not yet exist. During the meeting of the plenum of the Vad medines Lite in 1626, the names of a number of kehiles were mentioned, such as Kapulie, Mush, Smorgon, Trok, Zelve and others that were not mentioned at the gathering in 1623, either.
In 1720 Ivye figured as a well-based, firmly-established kehile. On the list for the tax assessment (head tax) which was imposed on the kehiles in Lite--according to the decision of the plenum of the Vad medines Lite--which took place in Amdur (Tevet-Shevet, 1720), the kehile in Ivye had to pay five hundred gildn, while the Novaredok kehile had to pay only four hundred gildn as a head-tax. This shows clearly that the kehile in Ivye was larger in the number of people than Novaredok.
At the meeting of the state board that took place in the months Kheshven-Kislev in 1752 in Mir, the head-tax taken in from all of Lite was sixty thousand gildn. The portion from Ivye, together with the neighboring townlet Lipnishok, which was its subordinate, was 520 gildn in head-tax. The reasons for that decline in tax payment were: the Cossack rebellion (1648) and the so-called Northern War between Russia, Poland and Sweden in the years 1655 to 1659, that brought with them murder and economic ruin for Polish and Lithuanian Jewry. At the gathering of the Vad hamedines in Sivan-Av in Slutsk, the head-tax for the Ivye and Lipnishok kehiles was set at a total of 600 gildn.
The fact that the Ivye kehile was not subordinate to one of the five main kehiles of the Vad medines Lite (Brisk, Horodne, Pinsk, Vilne and Slutsk) like other smaller places, but was independent in direct payment to the central Vad, shows that already in the 17th century Ivye was one of the respectable kehiles in Lite.
The Council of the Land of Lithuania, or Vad hamedines as it was also called, encompassed five provinces and was founded in 1623, after the kehiles in Lite had separated from the Vad arbe artsos [Council of the Four Lands] (Greater Poland, Small Poland, Lithuania and Belarus) which had been created in 1520 according to a decree from the Polish king. The Vad arbe artsos ceased to exist in 1764, following a decree from King Stanislav August; while the Vad medines Lite existed until 1766.
The two state boards were established in order to carry out the tax assessments and to collect the monies for the treasury of the Polish state. Later the rights of both state boards were broadened to the cultural and religious life of the Jews as well. Their demands carried a legal character.
D. Ivye in the Era of the Polish Kingdom and the Lithuanian Duchy
It is clear that a Jewish settlement can arise only where there is already a church--that is to say, an institution, that has concentrated around itself a village population, a place where fairs and market days take place (according to Entsikopedia Slovar, 1894, four fairs a year took place in Ivye, and a market day once a week). According to that same source, the Catholic church in Ivye and the Bernardina monastery were established in 1538, or in 1631. It does not make any sense that Jews would have lived in Ivye at that time. Possibly they were located in the neighboring villages where they would be more easily able to make a living.
The assertions of the Polish and Russian encyclopedias that the Jewish settlement in Ivye first appeared in the first quarter of the 17th century because it was only in 1626 that the name of Meyshe from Ivye first figured into the payers of the head-tax for the Vad medines Lite, do not say absolutely that Jews did not live in Ivye earlier, or in the neighboring villages. In 1578, 27 thousand Jews lived in the Lithuanian Duchy. The biggest Jewish kehile, Brisk, numbered 90 Jewish families in 1552, and Grodne (Horodne), 60 families. And if so, there were uncounted families.
According to all the sources, Jews arrived in Lite only in the 14th century, during the rule of Gediminas (1316-1341), who enlarged the borders of Lithuania to the rivers Nieman and Bug. He remained a pagan his entire life and was free from the complex of Jew hatred. He opened the gates of his land to merchants and artisans from the west, and among them were many Jews. His grandson, too, the Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas (Vitold) who ruled in the years 1392-1430, showed no discrimination against the Jews, and gave them a written deed of rights. That deed, given by Vytautas of Lithuania, was similar to the privileges that Duke Boleslav of Kalish had given the Jews in Poland. A result of this was that Jews were given freedom of movement in the entire land, rights to trade, of religion and of jurisprudence in disputes among themselves. Not only the rulers of Lithuania, but the whole Lithuanian population as well, approached the Jews with more tolerance than other peoples in Europe. Until the second half of the 14th century the Lithuanian people were pagans and did not know of hatred toward Jews. And later, Lithuanian Catholicism was not so fanatic. And the point--the village population received assistance from the middlemen and merchants, and the Jews were especially outstanding in that area.
Vytautas extended the borders of the land to the east and to the south. At the end of the 14th century he succeeded in defeating the Tatar military under the leadership of Timor Leng. Vytautas set the captured Tatars in the villages of his duchy as agricultural workers. The Tatar Muslim population originated from this, and Ivye, Novaredok, Sorok-Tatarov (near Vilne), Niesvizsh and others became centers for them. Over the years the Tatars mixed with the local White Russian population, took on their language and lifestyle. But they remained specific in their observance of their Muslim religion and the mosques that they established in the places they dwelt, in the towns and villages mentioned above.
The number of Jews in Lide and surrounds, rose after the great catastrophe that the Jews met with in Ukraine, Podolia and Volin. Those were the times of Bogdan Khmielnitski who, with the Cossacks, rebelled against the Polish princes and conducted a war against them. During his war maneuvers Khmielnitski murdered without mercy the Jews in the cities he occupied. It is presumed that those who fled from the south also arrived in Ivye and stayed there.
The 17th century was the most difficult period in the life of Jews in Lite. The Jewish communities that had rebuilt and reestablished themselves after the Khmielnitski massacres were struck again during the Russian-Swedish War in the years 1654-1667. In 1655 Ivye, along with other parts of Lithuania, was occupied by the Russian military. There were pogroms against Jews in Vilne and in Grodne, and mass persecutions and robberies of Jews began in all the surrounding areas. The Swedish King Karol Gustav made use of the anarchy in Poland, and his armies penetrated deep into the land and got as far as Vilne province. Here they smashed into the Russians (who had made a peace pact with the Poles). The Swedes did not especially murder any Jews, but they squeezed their money from them. Fifty years later (in 1707) the armies of the Russian Tsar Piotr the Great fought the Swedish army again in the regions of Vilne and Grodne.
Between the two wars, and after them, the Jews of the Vilne province, in which Ivye was included, along with the Jews of the Grodne province, had to conduct a struggle for their rights as citizens, and in particular for the right to be able to engage in trade and artisanry. In the small towns and villages, the Polish nobility was free in their dealings with the Jews--the residents on their land--and they oppressed them with a mighty hand. The anarchy and the lawlessness that reigned the social life in all of Poland because of the ascendancy of the nobility caused much pain and suffering to the small Jewish settlements in the regions of Vilne, Lide and other places.
E. In the Times of the Russian Occupation, 1772 to 1914
Russia, Prussia and Austria partitioned the Polish country among themselves three times (1772, 1793, 1795); and Poland sank into a sea of internal friction and struggle. On the eve of the first partition of Poland, Lide was already a district city. According to the census in 1766 there were 5,291 Jews in the entire district of Lide; of those, 1,167 in Lide itself (the number of Jews in Ivye was not mentioned).
After the third partition (in 1795), when the largest part of Poland went to Russia, the Polish Jews found themselves under the rule of Queen Katherine the Great. The noble Queen quickly fixed the borders of the living area for the Jews (tkhum hameyshev [Pale of Settlement]) and closed the land of Russia itself to them (that law stayed in effect until the fall of tsarist Russia in 1917). The decrees began to multiply--prohibitions against Jews' operating inns, taverns, distribution points for whiskey. They were permitted to deal without restrictions in trade and artisanry, but it gradually came about that Jews had to leave the small settlements, and were allowed to live only in the towns. The banishment of Jews from the countryside to the towns began in 1804. The expulsion was not completed, however, due to the invasion of Napoleon's Army into Russia. The French invaders caused the Jews great troubles: they ravished the synagogues and cemeteries; took high taxes; demanded that people mobilize into their army; and with their retreat, robbed Jewish possessions. Old people in Ivye told about this through what they had heard from their parents, how Napoleon's Army had marched through Ivye and Baksht both during his triumphal push deep into Russia and during his retreat, defeated. According to them, Napoleon's Army built the observation tower along the road to the village Urtshishok, which remains as a memorial to this day.
The Napoleonic war impoverished the Jews, and the war between the followers and opponents of the rising Hasidic movement brought about restrictions on the rights of the kehiles. In 1819 Jews were forbidden from signing leases with Christian estates, and in 1823 the expulsion of Jews from the countryside in Lide province was carried out. In 1835, the banishment of Jews from the villages was renewed.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, and the beginning of the 19th century, the majority of Jews lived on the princely estates and in the surrounding villages. The Jewish community in Ivye was not especially large. The main reason for this was that in the villages, they could earn their bread as arendars or estate managers, for the princes, as milkers, shopkeepers, dealers and inn-keepers. A small piece of land and a cow had to suffice to support the family. Among the villagers there were also Jewish scholars who were renowned in the region. In each village settlement or farm where Jews had settled, there was a teacher who had been brought from nearby Ivye in order to teach Torah and mitsves to the children who had to grow up among the non-Jews.
In larger villages, a minyen was organized for shabes. On the evening before a yontiv the family was loaded into a wagon and, bringing along foodstuffs, went into Ivye to celebrate the holiday with the Jews there.
Itsik Kuboviski, the brother of Dr. Arye Kuboviski zl, relates in his memoirs about the years that their family lived in Ivye (their father Avrom Tsvi zl was khazn and sheykhet in Ivye in 1889-1892). Each week, his father would travel out to the villages and teach the country Jews, and slaughter cattle for them. According to him, at the end of the 19th century there were about one thousand Jews living in Ivye, and hundreds in the countryside around it. Every Jewish family in Ivye had a cow, goats and a bit of land--a garden--and together those served as a base for their material existence. The standard of living was low, they managed with little and found comfort in their faith and in fulfilling the mitsves from the Torah.
According to Slownik Geograficzny Krolestwa Polskiego of 1882, the post office in Ivye maintained contact with Lide through the post in the village Dzikowicze (a distance of some thirty kilometers...).
According to that same source, the general population in Ivye in 1869 numbered 2,123 residents, of those, 1,053 men and 1,070 women. No details about nationality or religion are given.
F. Ivye--A Town of Villagers
As stated earlier, hundreds of Jewish families lived for long generations in the surrounding villages in relative peace. The tsarist decrees forced them to leave the villages and their economic support and to move into the nearby town of Ivye. Thanks to their ties with the villagers of the periphery, they were able to continue in their same livelihoods. It can asserted with no doubt that the Jewish community in Ivye was made up mostly of former villagers. The names of the villages where they lived have accompanied them and their children:
Berl and his son Avrom Izboysker (Leybman), Shimon Izboysker (Kovenski). Dozens of families in Ivye have heard of the Izboysker (the village of Izboysk lies by the river Nieman, 8 kilometers from Ivye, on the way from Novaredok).
Yoel Barkier (Blokh). Barki--a farm on the road to the village Urtshishok.
Khaym Akive Lukeshiner. The village Lukeshin, 4 kilometers from the town. He was the proprietor of the mill in the village.
Yosef Bagneroder (Leybovitsh) came to Ivye from the village Bagnerod during the outbreak of the First World War. His son Khaym lives here.
Yosef Barever (Movshovitsh) ran the mill in the village Bareve. Two of his sons made alie to Erets-Yisroel (Khaym zl and Dovid).
Berl Lugomovitser (Delatitski). A teacher of young children. His son Gershon, one of those rescued from the catastrophe, went to Erets-Yisroel.
Itsik Zikevitser (Baksht). He moved to Ivye in the 1920s from the village Zikevits. His son Leybke, concerned with Zionism and the leader of the right Poale-Tsion.
Alter Lazduner (Matusevitsh) ran the dairy at the farm in Lazdun, about 15 kilometers from Ivye. Only a few Jewish families lived in Lazdun. The sons of Alter--Berl zl and Meyshe went to Erets-Yisroel.
Itsik Duder, Shimen Duder and others. The village Dud is located 6 kilometers from the town.
Meyshe Sontaker (Mikolayevski). The village Sontak, 25 kilometers along the way to Lide. His grandchild, Meyshe, rescued from the last war, lives here.
Betsalel Krasovshtshizner (Federman) and his brother Zelig. A dairyman who was expert in his trade and produced Swiss-type cheese even after he moved to Ivye from Krasovshtshizne.
Fayve Notskevitsker (Blokh). He came from Notskevitsh to Ivye as an old man. Despite his age, he was considered a wealthy man. There are many happy anecdotes about his wealth and his simplicity.
Leyzer Moriner (Epstein). He ran the dairy for the prince at the farm in Morine, on the Nieman River.
Markl Mikolayever (Movshovitsh). Mikolayevo, on the Nieman River, on the way to Lubtsh. A tiny town, with a minyen of Jewish families, most of whom moved into Ivye.
Fayve Meyshkovitser, Eli Dritshniker, Eli Yashkovitser, Peysakh Razevitser, Hirshl Kuprevitser, Alter Yuratsishker, Hirshl Bereziner, and many, many others--they all moved to Ivye from the surrounding villages where they had lived before and were called by the names of their earlier residences.
It is superfluous to halt this historical treatise about the life of the Ivye kehile in the second half of the 19th century and the current century. This memorial book reflects, as far as possible, that era until the liquidation of the community in the sad years of the catastrophe (1941-1944).
An effervescent community, that existed for more than 350 years was erased from the earth together with hundreds, thousands of other Jewish communities in Europe, without the smallest hope that they will be able to rebuild themselves.
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