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This site is created as a way to further research and publication of materials on the history of Lyakhovichi.If you have been aided in your research and wish to contribute materials and resources to further our knowledge, contact Gary Palgon and ask how you can help.

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Lyakhovichi Biographies: Vignettes and Reminisces from before World War I

Dinka Feiga Bashes [Baranek] from the story Dinka and the Baron by Nisin Tuchachinski, translated by Wilfred "Bill" Kay, 2008

This is a page in our Biography section. Click on the "Biography" button in the left-hand column to read other articles in this section.

Such an able business lady - is Feigl Bashes; you can't find another one if you looked all over the country. Who knows better how to attract barons as customers? As the baron's coach pulls up to her store, Feigl Bashes is right there with her broad smile, cheerful good morning, she gently kisses the baron's hand, sends him a wink; she flutters like a bird. She weighs, she packages, she makes bundles, etc... In one minute, the front of the coach where the coachman sits is filled with bundles, with bags and with packages. Not bad, Feigl Bashes is a master at her craft! She knows how to please the barons. They address her as "Dinka"; the coaches line up at her store. Thank god for that; what is there to complain about? Bachvitch isn't just any baron. A Lekhovicher shopkeeper commented: "dear god, please grant me two or three such customers, that is all I am asking !" Bachvitch is Dinka's customer and Bachvitch can not get along without Dinka. Whatever he needs for the family, for his farmhands, for his horses, for the entire estate, he orders everything from Dinka. He doesn't care whether Dinka carries it or not. She gets it from Irshel-Boruch Myers, from Itzhak Yosele, from Shlomo Yankele, from Hinde- Lea Ashram; never mind, Dinka always finds a way. She guards Bachvitch like the eyes in her head. That is why Bachvitch depends on her so completely. All the surrounding shopkeepers are very envious of her; that is why Dinka's competitor Frumke Naftalikes located the store right across the street.

Now, listen to this interesting story about smart and honest Feigl Bashes - who made a fool of herself; it was a pity to see it happen to her.

As usual, Bachvitch sent her an envelope with money and a note telling her how much money... She counted the money and was shocked to find an extra 100 ruble bill ! In those days 100 rubles was no small thing! Who knows, maybe it was a mistake? Or, maybe Frumke Naftalikes put him up to it to test me? But, Feigl Bashes is no fool. She is not fooled easily! So, she decided to travel to the baron's estate and return the 100 ruble bill, to show Bachvitch the real Dinka! Thank god, Dinka doesn't need the baron's money! She expected the baron to be impressed; he surely will thank her for it. She expected the story to spread to other barons, and that wouldn't do her business any harm.

In a couple of hours Dinka appeared at Bachvitch's residence. As soon as the baron heard why Dinka came, after she spread the 100 ruble bill on the table, you can't imagine his reaction.

He thundered! He cursed! In her entire life Feigl Bashes never experienced such a disaster!

"What kind of a mistake?", thundered the baron. "Me, a mistake? How dare you utter such filth. I am Bachvitch! I am the son of Bachvitch! Get out! Never set foot here again!" He reached for the bell... Dinka barely managed to find the door...

Next morning a new coach was parked right across the street, at Frumke Naftalikes' store.

What can you say about smart Feigl Bashes, now? Does it pay to be honest?

Marriage Certificate of Dinka's son Moshe in Montreal gives Dinka's maiden name.
We thank researcher Andreas Birnek, researching his Swedish roots and looking at all who share the Birnek name, for this image. Click on image for larger more readable page

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Some Genealogical Notes on Dinka Feiga Bashes
by Deborah Glassman, copyright 2008

Dinka Feiga of this story is the same person known as Dinka Feiga (Rabinowitz) Baranek. The possessive name "Bashes" refers to her mother Basha Rabinowitz. Dinka Feiga was married to the successful Zundel Baranek and they are described among the well-to-do balebustas (householders) who owned homes on Sanitarian Street. Dinka Feiga was the owner of a "colonial store" the name for a dry goods emporium that brought imported goods to the merchant and upper classes of Lyakhovichi. The ungrateful "porat" or baron, described in the story, was fortunately not Dinka Feiga's only wealthy customer. The Count and Countess Reitan, who were patrons of Lyakhovichi, depended heavily on the resources of Dinka Feiga's store. The arrival of the Countess's entourage at Dinka Feiga's store was recounted in Avram Lev's remembrance, elsewhere on our website - appearing in different years with liveried drivers of sleigh, carriage, and finally in the first automobile in Minsk guberniya!

Dinka Feiga was born in the 1860s (1866 according to her son Yitzhak Shomroni in a Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem) to Yosef David Rabinowitz and his wife Basha. Therefore when she was murdered in the Holocaust, she was around 80 years of age. Her last name is reported with variant spellings as Barnak and Baranek. Other children of hers who were reported murdered in the Holocaust were: Yosef born 1892; Batia (Barnak) Feinstein b. 1896 [wife of Shakna Feinstein]; Rafael [Pope? Rafi?] born 1904; Khaim born 1910; Yekutiel (he is not mentioned as killed, his wife Guta born 1911 was killed); Pinchas [Pinya] Barnak born 1913. Yosef was in Minsk during WWII, I can't tell where surviving son Yitzhak Shomroni was, all of the rest of her family seems to have been in Lyakhovichi. Her son Yitzhak Shomroni listed his father Zundel ben Aharon Barnak, his mother Dinka Feiga bat Yosef, and all of the siblings just named, in the Yiskor book for Lyakhovichi. Shomroni also lists Dinka Feiga's brother Khaim ben Yosef David Rabinowitz and Khaim's wife in the tally of the murdered. In 2009 a researcher on the Birnek family shared the information that Dinka's son Moshe emigrated before the war to Quebec Canada and there used the name Maurice Birnek. His marriage certificate in Montreal, (center of this page) shows him married to another Lechovicher, Libbie Steinhouse daughter of Moshe and Ronia (Litovsky) Steinhouse. Yitzhak Shomroni's children in Eretz Israel and the Birnek's children in Canada, continue Dina Feiga's line.

We don't know why Dinka was called by her mother's name in the possessive form - her mother was dead by 1896 when Dinka Feiga named a daughter for her. Her father had clearly died before 1892 when Dinka's son Joseph was born also. Her marriage to Zundel Baranek, an established merchant of some note, probably reflects on her birth family's status and relative wealth too. But her mother Basha Rabinowitz must have been a woman of substance and community respect as well. She was not just the creator of a possessive name for her daughter, her son Khaim ben Yosel Rabinovich, who is listed as a Second Rank Merchant (the ranks went from First being the highest down to eighth) in the 1907 voting lists is also called by Basha's name. In the picture below included in Avram Lev's reminisce, he is called by his common name in Lyakhovichi - Khaim Bashas.

There is still much more research to be done. Do you have a picture of Dinka Feiga? Or any of her family? Or of her colonial store? Do you know anything about the family of her parents Yosef David Rabinowitz and his wife Basha? It is somehow ironic that Dinka Feiga's well regarded husband, Zundel Baranek, who was a merchant of some note, is left as the mystery, while Nisan Tukachinsky's little bio and Wilfred Kay's translation, brings Dinka Feiga (Rabinowitz) Baranek, Dinka Feiga Bashe's, onto center stage.

Khaim Bashes Rabinowitz, brother of Dinka Feiga Bashes, cropped from a picture in which he appears with Isaac Gedaliah Goldberg, whose wheelchair is still visible here.

Do you have a letter, a story you remember being told, an essay a schoolchild in Lyakhovichi wrote? We can publish your long or short memoir, biography, or vignette, right here!