1998 Trip to Vasilishki

by Lida District Researcher and Eisiskes and Zyrmuny Coordinator Judy Baston

The village of Vasilishki, © J. R. Baston

This report is a letter written to a friend with Vasiliski roots and sent to Ellen Sadove Renck.

The entire experience in Vasilishok was so astounding, I m not even sure where to start. When we drove into the town, Rita (who is a magnificent guide and really knows how to talk to villagers and get them to talk with us) stopped on the main street and asked a woman who appeared to be in her 70s: Do you know where there is a Jewish cemetery or where the Jewish section of town was?

The other woman answered: I will show you the house where the Jewish woman lives. She will be able to answer your questions. We really couldn t believe our ears and were sure she had misunderstood our question. We drove a few blocks and came to a little house, really more like a hut, made of wood and tar paper. Rita went inside with the woman and then came out and motioned for Beth and me to follow.

Because there were pictures of Jesus on the walls, we thought there must be a mistake: Rita motioned to them, and the woman who lived there, Tereza Bogdzevich, answered: I do this for my husband.

Teresa was born Sonia, or Sarah, Rapelovich, in 1914 in a little nearby town called Novy Bary, and they had only lived in Vasilishok for 5 years, but, she said, she had once had a lot of family in Vasilishok. She had two aunts here in Vasilishok, including a woman named Cherna Boyarska. She also mentioned a cousin named Schwartz, who lived not far from there.

Then Rita mentioned the name Dora Zlotnick and Tereza stopped for a moment and said, Dora Zlotnick was a relative, she was born around 1906. A few moments later, she said her own mother -- Liza Boyarska and Dora s mother were sisters.

Tereza s response to the name Dora Zlotnick was so immediate and so strong that I am sure she is related to you in some way. She did not recognize the name Schorske.

Tereza also said she knew a man who was in the Soviet Army fighting against the fascists (her words that speaks well of her). She said this man had met Dora Zlotnick in England after the war and he came back and told others at home that he had met her. Do you remember your mother being in England?

Tereza said there are now maybe about ten Jewish families in the district. She remembered several families named Boyarsky from before the war, a doctor and a veterinarian. Her cousin, Schwartz, died before the war.

After we left Tereza and her husband, we went back onto the main street and saw a group of white houses (photo of one enclosed) that townspeople said had belonged to Jewish families before the war. Someone mentioned the Belofsky house, which, they said, was still standing.

There is a memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust in Vasilishki.

Sign indicating direction to Zhaludok and Vasilishki © J. R. Baston

Copyright © 1998, Judy R. Baston
HTML by Irene Newhouse

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