Briceni, Britchany, Britshan, Brychany (D-M code: 795600, 794600)
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A village of 5,000 people before WWII, Brichany/Briceni is now, at a population
of 80,000, the fifth largest city in Moldova, which itself is peopled by
around 4.5 million people. A second shtetl, around 30 miles away
to the east, is also known as Brichany or Briceni. The first Brichany
is, according to ShtetlSeeker, at 48° 22´ north latitude
and 27° 06´ east longitude, which put the shtetl 124.1 miles
northwest of Chisinau (also Chisenau, Cisenau, Kisheneff, Kishenev),
the capital of Moldova. The second Brichany/Briceni is, again according
to ShtetlSeeker, at 48° 22´ north latitude and 27° 42´
east longitude, which put that shtetl 108 miles north northwest
of Chisinau -- and on the northeasternmost border of pickle-shaped
Moldova. But other sources appear to treat the two Brichany/Briceni
shtetls as the same place!
There is also a controversy over which spelling of the shtetl should
appear atop this page: Brichany or Briceni. Some allege that Briceni
represents the shtetl in Romanian and in Moldovan and that Brichany is
only a transliteration from the Russian spelling. The problem
with that argument is that regardless of the country in control of the
land, the people living there would still call the shtetl by its name.
Given also that "Brichany" is how immigrants at the turn of the century
wrote the name of the town and that the author of this text has seen that
spelling in their handwriting, the name atop this page shall remain Brichany
until definitive information is received which demonstrates that our people
called it something else. The author of this text is not even convinced
that our people spoke Romanian or Moldovan. Brichany might even have
been a transliteration of the Yiddish pronunciation as it was spoken then
. . . although one reader of this site has argued that Britshan is the
Even the answer to "When was a "Moldavian" town in Moldavia, Moldova,
Romania, Russia, or Bessarabia?" is elusive . . . for between 1711 and
1944, "Russia invaded Romania about 12 times" [Dima monograph] and
control changed several times. For the full story, one reaching back
to 100 CE, see History of Region.
All of the above, of course, is in perfect harmony with the mysterious
history of the Moldovan Jews, who are believed to be a mixture of
Hungarian, Ukrainian, and Turkish Jews, the latter being descendants
of the Jews from the Turkish state of Khazaria, who, it is speculated,
comprised the majority of the Jews populating the area in the late
1400s. But whoever they are, Brichanians, love bryndza cheese
and mamaliga -- mamaliga, a symbol in as many poems extolling the
beauty of Romania as it is the subject of recipes worldwide.
For a fascinating learned site, go to http://www.khazaria.com.
And when you go to the map linked below, note that in yesteryear, Turkey's
northern boundary was considerably different than it is today: that
part of Turkey in which Khazaria was located was north and east
of the Black Sea as well as north and west of the Caspian
Sea, making Khazaria almost the "next-door" neighbor of the land which
later became the principality of Moldavia at a time when it nuzzled up
to the Black Sea.
History of Region
From Moldavia to Moldova the Soviet-Romanian Territorial Dispute
by Nicholas Dima, East European Monographs, Boulder Distributed by
Columbia University Press (New York, 1991)
Note: Dima's scholarly monograph is difficult to read
because of the paucity of paragraph breaks, the difficulty in locating
the footnotes to which he refers, his occasional obtuseness, and his apparent
dislike of commas: for example, "From 1711 when the tsarist troops reached
the boundary of Moldavia for the first time until 1944, Russia invaded
Romania 12 times.2" But . . . it appears to be the only in-depth
piece we have on the Net about Moldova or Moldavia. News of other
pieces would be welcome.
Few Facts about Moldova (encarta®) Introduction,
land size, population, economy, government, brief history
Amizur, Y., Brichany: Its Jewry in the first half of our century
(Tel Aviv) See Table
Most Informative and Printable (not lots of memory needed) Map
(map by friends-partners) of Western and Eastern Europe,
showing the migration of Jewish communities until the 17th century, and
the location of Kishinev (Chisenau), Moldavian capital, and its relation
to the Black Sea.
Origins of Moldova in 1993 (map by the Library
of the University of Texas)
Brichany at Coordinates 4822-2706 (by
mapquest), the northwesternmost part
of Moldova, next to Lipkany, birthplace of Samuel Dorfman, wed to Brichaner
Note: So that the locations match those in the ShtetlSeeker
tables, the form 4822-2706, for example, is being used rather than the
equivalent notations 48° 22´ north latitude and 27° 06´
Amizur, Y., Brichany: Its Jewry in the first
half of our century (Tel Aviv)
Table of Contents
Amizur, Y., Brichany . . . Memorial
Genealogical Research Sources
Note: These lists are for Brichany/Briceni at 4822-2706.
Translation of Briceni Yizkor Book from Hebrew to English
Note: Being set up through Yizkor Book SIG, so that
it can be funded by contributions to JewishGen designated for this project.
Book has been obtained, but translation needed.
Yizkor book contains photographs of the town before the war.
Nothing of the old town remains.
1859 Census of Briceni: 350 Families
The National Archive (Arhiva Nationala a Republicii Moldova),
Str. Gheorge Asachi 67-b, 277028 Chisinau. National Archives
contains records up to1910; however, those do not include vital records
from Briceni. The only record for Briceni was a census of 1859, which
consists of records for approximately 350 families. Examination of
records on-site allowed for a moderate fee.
Transcription of Briceni 1854 and 1859 Revision List (census book)
Note: The 350 families in the 1859 census of
Briceni are the same as those in Revision List for 1859 referred to in
the previous entry.
Note: An organization must request these from the Moldovan
Contributions will be needed to finance the effort to transfer the
lists onto electronic medium (floppy disk) or to copy them onto paper.
Vital Records: Birth, Death, and Marriage
The Civil Archive (Arhiva Actelor Starii Civile), Ministry
of Justice Building, Str. 31 August 82, Chisinau. The Civil Archives
contained marriage records from 1911 to 1945. The records for Briceni
may have been recently sent to Briceni City Hall Archives. It is
not known whether a copy of those records was retained in the Chisinau
Civil Archive. The Chisinau Civil Archive had been responsive to
on-site requests for a record search for a moderate fee.
The City Hall (ZAGS) Archives in Briceni may now contain the Brichany/Briceni
marriage records. No confirmation has been reported. There
may also be birth and death records in the Briceni City Hall Archive.
Holocaust Research Sources
Names of 81 Brichany survivors List
Note: It is not known whether this list, from the World Jewish
Congress, is for Brichany/Briceni at 4822-2706 or at 4822-2742.
Names and birth years of 300 WWII survivors from Briceni (4822-2706)
Note: List from Soviet Extraordinary Commission appears to
be different from the list of 81 survivors above.
Transcription needed from Cyrillic script.
Eyewitness accounts by WWII survivors
Documents by Soviet Extraordinary Commission obtained from the U.S.
Holocaust Museum, Washington, D.C. Translation needed from Russian,
some of it in very bad handwriting.
Cleanup of very large, overgrown Jewish Cemetery in Briceni and cataloging
of gravestones, many of which are legible
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee will accept contributions
funds to their offices in Moldova in order to pay someone to do the
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