STAVISHCHE Ukraine

PLACES

Stavisht & Its Surroundings

The Russian and Ukrainian transliterated spelling is Stavishche. Our ancestors referred to the town using the less formal Yiddish expression of Stavisht (emphasis on the 'visht'). JewishGen and professional genealogists prefer to use modern native spellings when documenting locations. With that in mind, I will use the Ukrainian term for nearby cities and shtetls upon introduction, but then revert to the Yiddish in collusion with our ancestors. When researching ancestors, be alert for various spellings including Stawyszcze, Stavische, Stavisch, Stavishcha, Stivishe, Stavysce and the Polish spelling, Stawiszcze.

The town of Stavisht is centered around a large and beautiful lake. In fact, the name means "big lake" in Ukrainian. Today, Stavisht is located in the Kyyiv Oblast of the Ukraine, but prior to the breakup of the USSR it was within Russia's boundaries and was part of the Russian empire during earlier centuries. Geographically it is located 74 miles south of Kiev at a longitude/latitude of 49° 23' N 30° 12' E and can be found on Bing Maps and Google Maps. To access the Google map you will need to cut and paste the coordinates, above, into the search bar after clicking on the previous Google Maps link. Click on the image of the hand drawn map of Stavisht created in 2005 and submitted by Marvin Silverman to see a larger image. Silverman drew the map after he read through the Stavisht Yizkor Book and other documents with great detail to re-create the community layout.

Stavisht map detail

Nearby Shtetlach

The residents of Stavisht and surrounding communities did not exist in a vacuum, but rather worked together to bring sustenance, spirituality, entertainment, laughter and connection into each other's homes. Many relatives of Stavisht families lived in these nearby shtetlach and many marriages took place among the families within this region. A few of these communities are listed below along with brief descriptions.

Boyarka (Uk/Rus/Yid)

Boyarka, Ukraine is 21 miles from Stavishche. JewishGen cites the Jewish population as about 720 people in 1900. According to Harry Goldberg, Boyarka "was surrounded by tall mountains so that the road coming in runs downhill and the road leaving climbs upward." A resort destination where writer Sholem Aleichem spent many summers, Boyarka served as the fictional town of Anatevka in Aleichem's story of Tevye the Milkman (later, the play and film - Fiddler on the Roof).1 You can find out more about Boyarka on its JewishGen Community Page and on two short essays written and submitted by Karen I. Sanders and Zina Hirsh.

Tetiyev (Uk/Rus) / Tetiev (Yid)

In 1900, Tetiev had a Jewish population of 3,323. It was situated 24 miles west of Stavisht.2 There have been a few documents written about Tetiev and the pogroms of 1919-1920 that took place in the town and surrounding communities. You can read more about Tetiev and these horrific times on the Tetiev KehilaLinks Site on JewishGen. Stavisht is mentioned.

Zhashkiv (Uk)/ Zhashkov (Rus/Yid)

Located ten miles SSE from Stavisht, Zhashkov was known for its sugar mill and its role as a regional trading center. Its weekly horse fairs brought traders to town from throughout the Ukraine to buy and sell their steeds. The town had a Jewish population of 2,245 in 1900 according to its JewishGen Community Page. In the 1880's Zhashkov Jews were primarily Hasidic; followers of either the Skvira or Talna Rebbe (Skvira and Talna were shtetls within the same region).3 Samuel Sander recalls the town layout in his hand drawn map submitted by Nathen Gabriel. You can listen to his hour-long, 1985 interview for the Ellis Island Oral History Project through this link or on Ancestry. Search on ‘Samuel Sander’ to find his interview. On Ancestry, search on ‘Samuel Sander’, location of Zashkob. You can find the transcript of the interview in a local library through a search on WorldCat.org, a catalog of the world's library holdings. Search on ‘Samuel Sander’ as name of author and ‘Ellis Island Oral History Project’ as title. The results will most likely take you to a local university library where access will be through a subscription database. Call first to see if you will be able to use the database as a guest.


Cemeteries

cemetery image

On the outskirts of Stavisht there is a Jewish cemetery with the most recent gravestone from the 20th century. The site is open without enclosing walls, fences or gates and has anywhere between 21 and 100 marked gravesites. According to the Stavische entry in the Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust (2001, v.3, p. 1240), "The Germans occupied Stavische in July 1941 and two weeks later murdered all Jewish males up to the age of 60. The women and children were murdered in October." Three marble monuments stand erect over the mass grave of the Stavisht Jews who perished.4 Photos of two of the monuments, submitted by Karen I. Sanders, and the translation of the Hebrew and Russian inscriptions on the memorials can be found here. The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies has surveyed the cemetery through its International Jewish Cemetery Project and has placed online this report detailing the location and status of the cemetery. Additional information on the German massacre and the cemetery can be found on the Lo-Tishkach.org web site. The site was down, however, at the time this web site was created. You can access an archived page of the site using the Wayback Machine and selecting the April 21, 2010 date; the Stavyshche cemetery links will show on the left.

Landsmanschaftn

Many eastern Europeans after arriving in the United States, and other countries, formed community associations or landsmanschaft (Yiddish) with other "landsman" who were now beginning a new life in a new land. These associations were often extensions of those that existed in their hometowns. The groups helped new immigrants navigate the complexities of the new world while providing a foundation of old and new friends from back home. Along with hosting meetings and social activities, the associations also raised money for landsman in need and to send back to those remaining in the country of origin. Many also encouraged their members to write down their remembrances and then published memorial books to their towns and the residents killed during the Russian Revolution or Holocaust. These books, known as Yizkor books, can be found in libraries throughout the world. The Stavisht Yizkor Book has been translated, from the Hebrew and Yiddish, and can be read online at JewishGen.

In New York City, Stavishters organized a landsmanschaft named the First Stavishter Benevolent Association. As was the protocol of most landsmanschaftn, the Association purchased plots of land within local cemeteries to be used for members' burial needs. The Stavishter society purchased plots in two Long Island, New York cemeteries, Beth Moses and Montefiore5. A list of surnames found within these plots has been posted online through the Cemetery Project at the online Museum of Family History. These individuals' names, along with additional headstone information, are included in the Stavisht Resident Database accessed from the People page of this web site. Another Stavishter section has been identified in the Cedar Park Cemetery in Paramus, New Jersey. Are there others? Would you like to volunteer to collect headstone information?

In Boston, the United Brothers of Stavisht became involved in their Jewish community. The Ladies Auxiliary of this organization is listed as a life member on a donor plaque, dedicated in January 1953, supporting Boston's Jewish Memorial Hospital.6 It is believed Stavishters had similar landsmanschaft organizations in Philadelphia and, possibly, Buffalo and Chicago. If you have information about these other organizations or would like to research their existence, please contact the web master so the information may be included here.


Sources

1IMDb (Internet Movie Database) retrieved 7 June 2012 from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067093/faq#.2.1.8
2Community Page on JewishGen retrieved 12 June 2012 from http://data.jewishgen.org/wconnect/wc.dll?jg~jgsys~community~-1056276
3Dayan, Y. (N.D.) Bayit Be-Yisrael. Translated by Ida Selavan.
4(2005) "Jewish cemeteries, synagogues, and mass grave sites in Ukraine." United States Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad retrieved 8 June 2012 from http://www.heritageabroad.gov/Portals/0/documents/reports/survey_ukraine_2005.pdf. Information on Stavyshche, the spelling used in the document, can be found on pages 107 and 159.
5The First Stavishter Benevolent Association was incorporated in New York County in 1907. The Beth Moses plots can be found in Block 12, Section 2; the Montefiore sections are Block 14, Gate 633/S and Block 79, Gate 320/S.
6Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Boston, Excel document listing the Auxiliary retrieved 15 August 2012 from cjp.org/getfile.asp?id=12417