Summary of Noah Katzovits' book Genesis of Moises Ville

Los Talleres Graficos de Julio Kaufman,
Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1947

(The first section concerns Mstibovo, Belarus)
Spanish version 1987, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Summarized by Mario Jeifetz and Rose Feldman


When relating my memoirs that embrace some four decades of the Jewish Colonization in Argentina, I consider not out of place to describe the town, where I lived from 1882 until my emigration in the year 1895. That town deserves to be remembered, since it contributed the first contingent of importance to Moises Ville. It was represented in the group that came from Grodno, and later, in the subsequent groups coming from Lithuania that colonized Entre Rios. The encouraging news that was heard from the first ones that emigrated from our town, became the information source about Argentina and awoke an interest in that whole area and towards Baron Hirsch's Colonization.

It should also be noted that the delegate of the first contingent of Grodno was chosen by the colonists accepted to the next contingent from the same town; that was the habit that was imposed in those times. This way, each group of approved colonists sent a pioneer that preceded them. When recruiting the first group of colonists for Baron Hirsch's company, as in the former initial experiment with the human element of Lithuania, the colonists were personally recommended by Yehoshua Lapin, in the report that was presented to the Jewish Colonization Association (J. C. A.), whose president was the Baron.himself

It should also be noted that the above mentioned people, without exceptions, have formed the deep wide roots of our colonization.

Our town already has generations of parents, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren in Argentina, who will find it interesting to listen to the echoes of a way of life and the characteristics of their town of origin.

Amstibove is the name of that town, in the province of Wolkowysk. The Jewish population occupied 60 houses in the center. The Jews were a third of the whole local population, and most of them were tradesmen. Scattered among the Jewish houses were churches. The most important church was the Catholic church, thanks to which the Jews obtained their meager sustenance.

I remember the following story. The priest was found to have committed an offense. He had brought several cars with bricks to repair the church, before having received the Russian government's permission. He was exiled from the town and the church was closed for some time for that reason. The Jews commented about this "exile", since it created the situation in which the town was empty. "The hole took place as much in the church as well as in the pocket." Without the shepherd, the flock, from which milk and wool was obtained, was scattered.


Aspects of the town. The houses were built of material of easy combustion (but they don't burn). The insurance. Economic situation: a lifestyle of a village. A blessing for the home: to have ones own milk, potatoes, and vegetable garden. Alter Kaller's mill. The geeses. It is not necessary to emigrate.


Shortage of cash money. Faivl Kaller, the gentleman of the loans without interest. Travel to Bialystok and Grodno. "It weakened their force in the road" (Psalms CII, 24). That the horse be of good health. Restless days. The mujik deceives the Jew. The commercial ethics of the past.


Labor workers. Feminine rights. Rural ethics. Concerns when leaning. "Oh of that whose children are women" (of the Talmud). God grants the son-in-law that one wants, or, How much does it cost to marry to a daughter? Pure lineage. Travel to America. "The grace of the place is reflected in its inhabitants."


A house of prayers and study, and a club. Homogeneous society. School tariff - the more vital expenditure. Sympathy for Hovev Zion. An institution that perfects its members. Small towns but with many inhabitants, passports traffic. The local authorities, the city council. Community cheese. Swear by a chapter of the Psalms. Prohibition to a president.


Cultural activity and other forbidden fruits. Subscription campaign to newspapers. Subscription to the Hatzefira. Diffusion of the Haskala. Social sciences. A foggy matter. Discovery of Argentina. An expedition of 130 Jewish families.


The country of mysteries. The map of the Argentina in the Russian atlas. Information through family notes. A world on the other way side. Doctor Loewentahl - Baron Hirsch - .J. C. A. 10.000 hectares acquired for Palacios. Chaotic beginning. The Baron's disillusion.


Moises Ville: a normalized colony. Construction of the town and population. Divergences in the public opinion. Intrigues of the Hovev Zion. Baron Hirsch's point of view. Hamelitz against, Hatzefira in favor of. Interpretation of the information on the colonies. The colonists' in favor of the Hovev Zion's letters that served the cause of the Argentinean colonization.


The uncertain tendency toward agriculture. The Jewish-Argentinean colonization: a reality. Fantasies around her. Objective position regarding this movement. The whole science of the colonization. The Zederbaum's open letter to Baron Ginzburg. Vermont and Horovitz. The difference between colonization and agriculture. Intents of a dream. Kaller and I (Katovits) are candidates to integrate a group of Jewish colonists originating of Lithuania


Procedure for the reception of colonists. The Central Committee of the J. C. A. in Petersburgo. Abraham Frumkin, representative of Grodno. The list of candidates: Hirsch Kaller, Noah Cociovich (Katzovits), Iosef Trumper, Iosl Ber Rejovitzky, Abraham Leib Kaplan, Samuel Trumper, Samuel Bloch, Elie Kohn and Hertz Berezovsky. The visit of Yehoshua Lapin to Argentina. Recommendation to gather a group of Lithuanian Jews. The applicants check out the land. Which are the desirable colonists? Colonists payments. (It tells that only two people among the whole group have paid to the J.C.A. the specified amount.)


Colonists' reception. What is not allowed by principle is still allowed a little bit. How is colonization explained at distance? They declare me (Katzovits) incompetent for the colonization. The friends react. Intellectuals in the colonies with opposed opinions. Only talk of destructive ideas is heard and nobody knows about constructive ideas. Feinberg invites me to converse with him.


Conversation with Mr. Feinberg. Their opinion that I (Katovits) am not an appropriate element for the colonization is strong. Proposal of employment in the Argentina. My rejection is categorical. Discussion of the motto: "the spirit is more important than the physical strength" Evaluation of the cultural element in the colonization. Yesterday material of waste, today a valuable merchandise. Plenary meeting of the group. Community plans.


Fantastic plans for the group to settle down in Argentina. Somebody wants to teach us how to pray. The Frumkin's project about the carts. Delegates' elections. The "stone that the manufacturers rejected" transformed into "fundamental stone." For the colonists, their colonization is as an illusion. The state of spirit of the families in the homeland. The delegate is called to Odesa.


The farewell in the port of Odesa. Feinberg reprehends us and he orders us to celebrate the ceremony of Tashlih. Fifteen days of trip to Genova in a cargo ship. The stowaways. Our group in quarantine. A deceased boy in the trip. The Turks deceive the Hevre Kedishe. Kosher meat in Mesina, after 500 years without Jews. We finally arrive at Genova.

(The book continues through chapter 47. The rest of the chapters are about Argentina.)