Creating a resource for collaborative research
on the history of the Jewish community
in what is today Lyakhovichi, Belarus    


Shtetl Links: Lyakhovichi


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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.

This site is hosted at no cost by JewishGen, Inc., the Home of Jewish Genealogy. If you have been aided in your research by this site and wish to further our mission of preserving our history for future generations, your JewishGen-erosity is greatly appreciated.

An Invitation to Collaborative Research on Lyakhovichi History
from Deborah G. Glassman,
Fall 2007

This is a page in the Welcome suite. To reach any other page in that category just click the button "Welcome" in the table in the left-hand column.

The Lyakhovichi Research Group commissions research projects in the Minsk archives and with other holders of our original source material. We count on the expertise of Dr. Neville Lamdan in identifying and analyzing raw archival material and the experience of Gary Palgon in coordinating overseas efforts and funding resources, to bring those projects to fruition. Those projects are often mapped out years in advance, moving forward as the group acquires funding that makes our wish list possible.

There are other kinds of projects that do not call for an investment of funds and which can be done collaboratively by all of those who find this website a resource. This entire site is an exercise in collaborative research, where we draw on large-scale gathering and input of data to quickly enhance our depth of knowledge.

Letís use this page to talk about what is possible and letís use this page, further, to report your successful contributions! To inspire others and to create a wall of fame! Some will be implemented by you and others will be completed by you, and still more will be taken from idea to fruition, entirely by your efforts. Here are the webmasterís first thoughts on specific projects for which you can help us do the research and writing. There are plenty of others and your own knowledge and resources may suggest others. Click contact and ask us about other ways you can bring important materials to publication as well.

You canít put a list like this in order. It is not relevant which project is more important or should take precedence. The value is in getting needed work done by a willing contributor.

  • Do you know someone who reads and speaks Yiddish? If you and they have clear speaking voices and they are comfortable reading material, around three to five pages long, we need them to simply read aloud into a tape recorder. Stop the recording and let them tell you what they were saying, a summary by the page or chapter in English. Start recording again and you or they tell us in English, what it was about. We will create (and edit further as necessary) a wave file of the tape and post it on our webpage. What will they be reading? Letís start with the many chapters in the Lyakhovichi Yiskor book that have not yet been translated. There is an important and well-functioning JewishGen project - the Yiskor Book Project that will work with you and give you public recognition for your work for each chapter for which you can provide a translation. I assume the Yiskor Book Project would be happy to get at least a summary (contact them for all details) and that you can do sections smaller than a chapter but if a chapter summary or page summary is insufficient for their needs, we will certainly gladly publish those on our site.

    I donít know any details of the Yiskor book project program requirements, but I do know that even if the translator who you bring to this project, can only comfortably do a page now and then, your summary will make the difference between material that tells us about Lyakhovichi life and a book that sits unread by our Yiddish-language challenged generation. Did you see Neville Lamdanís translation of A Walk through my Devastated Shtetl? Did you see the material that Stephen Warshall has made available at Yizkor Book Project-Lyakhovichi ? Lyakhovichi people are also named in the Yiskor books of Kletsk, Slonim, Baranovichi, and others, and we only know because of the indices - not one Lyakhovichi reference in those books has been translated! The people who wrote these stories were often remembering the Lyakhovichi of their youth fifty and sometimes even seventy years earlier. The stories ranged from silly to sublime, you are not asking someone to read you a ďlist of the dead.Ē The material is available untranslated online and with an easy to install Hebrew-font program, you can print it out of your computer in large-size print. If you are interested in this project, contact us for an address to which you can mail your cd or tape.

  • Do you live near a Judaica library that might have some of the books on our page List of Books with Lyakhovichi Subscribers? Photocopy the subscription pages and then email them to us! (if you can only mail or fax them, let us know and we will tell you how to do so.) The Introduction, approbations, and colophon, would be great bonuses while you're there! If you can search a Judaica library's catalog, even if not close enough to let you visit, can you look for any book that might have been published by any Lyakhovichi leader? You can rumage through our page Rabbis, Rebbes, and Crown Rabbis of Lyakhovichi for 100 likely names. We simply don't know who from our town wrote what!

  • Have you found death certificates and obituaries for your Lyakhovichi born kinsmen? Go to our pages Death Certificates as Documents for Lyakhovichi Historyand Obituaries as Research Tools to see how to add your data to our databases and your document images to be posted on our pages. The benefits, processes, and consequences of your contributions are also discussed on those pages.

  • Have you found Lyakhovichi emigrant burial plots not already listed on our pages? Drop us an email and let us know where it is and how you know about them. If you have taken any photos there, or extracted any information from them, let us know that too.

  • Do you have a digital camera and are you planning on being in any cemetery where we know or don't yet know, about Lyakhovichi burials? We would love to see visual images youíve taken of your familyís Lyakhovichi burial society' graves, ďgates,Ē memorials, veteran plaques, and more.

  • Do you have a box of photos from someone who was from Lyakhovichi, but you donít know who anybody is? Do your best to label them and then scan and send them. We will post them and see who can help. Do you have a box of perfectly labeled photos who you donít think anybody will care about, weíll take those too if they are from Lyakhovichi.

  • Are you able to investigate in your State Registration of Corporations? We would like to publish information about Lyakhovichi landsmanschaften, synagogues, beneficial societies, family circles, et al.

  • Can you look in newspapers on microfilm and online for us? Can you identify some of the ones we should be looking at, or do you need to work from a list? We can coordinate in which ever style you like. Do you have access to digitized newspapers not generally available that you can search from home? Do you have any abilities to search newspapers in languages other than English?

  • Can you look in local Archives? Philadelphia Jewish Archives has a wonderful collection of HIAS records, the records of four ticket agencies, and many of the incorporation certificates of local synagogues and landsmanschaften. Can you take a look at any of these records for us? The Americah Jewish Historical Archives has fond after fond of important documents that include Lyakhovichi natives in records like those of the Galveston Plan and of the Industrial Removal Office Ė can you look for our people there? Detroit was a home to strong numbers of Lyakhovichi settlers, can you find out what resources might be present? The University of North Carolina has a nice online collection on South Carolina's Jewish communities, and I suspect that there are similar resources in universities around the country. All types of archives are great resources for us if we know what they have that is relevant to us. Will you find them for us and help us identify those with Lyakhovichi connections?

  • Are you any good at reading ship manifests online? There are 786 Baranovichi immigrants through NYC for whom I would like to determine a birthplace and third-parties named. (Lots more similar projects when we are done!)

  • Do you have old home movies of Lyakhovichi people? Taken at your American Bar Mitzvah in the 1930s? Taken in Lyakhovichi? In Eretz Israel, South Africa, or Cuba? The webmaster will use software to edit short versions for our site.

  • Do you like searching for old books? We are looking for English and European-languaged materials on doing business in Minsk Gubernia in the late 19th century through the World War I period. Materials just on everyday life in that same region in the same time period are also of value to us. We are looking for the same kind of info on life and business in Novogrodek wowoide between 1920 and 1939. We are interested in info on schools, professionals, services, et al. We want any books from before World War II, in any language, published in the Lyakhovichi area. And we need telephone books for Novogrodek wowoide 1920-1939.

  • Have you participated in a DNA project that would affect our knowledge of your Lyakhovichi ancestors? Many are using this new research avenue, but we have no collective information as relates to Lyakhovichi yet.

  • Help identify Lyakhovichi Jews buried in Eretz Israel. We do have a list of those whose Lyakhovichi connection was reported with their burial. But most Jerusalem burials did not record that data. So far our list from other sources is very brief and all info is from trees posted on JewishGenís Family Tree of the Jewish People. Can you share any information on your family members we can include?

    MISHKOFSKY Hirsch (Zvi) Mea Shorim Cemetery Jerusalem
    SHAPIRO Mordche Zisel Mea Shorim Cemetery Jerusalem
    MANDEL Shmuel Yosef Har haZetim Jerusalem
    FEITELWITZ Blume (Rabinowitz) Har haZetim Jerusalem
    RABINOWITZ Zelig -Tel Aviv



  • Can you find us dissertations and scholarly articles related to our core topic? Can you find us others that will enable us to write more precisely on topics that we should cover - Russian judicial records; Bet Din materials from our region; resources for writing about Jewish women in Lyakhovichi, images of original documents, et al?

  • Science and genealogy Genealogists were pleased to find that DNA studies could be put to the service of our chosen field of study. Its time to return the favor. There is a brand new field of study called Transgenerational Epigenetics. Geneticists have evidence that factors that affected your paternal grandparents at specific points in their development, impact grandchildrenís tendencies towards resistence to cardiovascular disease or to inclination to diabetes. Epigenetics looks at conditions that can turn certain signals on and off in the genes and DNA already present in a live subject. Transgenerational epigenetics looks at those things that seem to further affect the signaling to those genes, tagged as from the same sources, in a later generation. Studies are reporting that conditions like famine and its opposite, food abundance, are among the factors that can cause a change in signaling in genes transmitted from a paternal grandparent to a male-lineal grandchild. Your grandmotherís factors would have had to occur while she was in her motherís womb, thatís when a femaleís eggs are created, and all genetic material that she would ever pass on, was impacted right then. So far, the impact of such changes in a woman, have only been documented in her sonsí children. Your grandfatherís factors would have had to occur as he entered puberty as that is when the genetic material that he passed on, was created. Again, so far scientists have only documented this transgenerational signaling change in the children of his sons. The first study using generations of documentation on whole-community statistics from individual Swedish families, shows that food deprivation in the grandparents at their developmental stages, results in grandchildren that seemed to have a greater resistance to cardiovascular disease onset. Conversely, food abundance in those development stages, seemed to result in grandchildren who had a higher rate of diabetes. I can't tell you what any of this means, scientifically, but from a genealogical standpoint, it means that collecting data on families can both aid our individual research and impact our studies for the future. So I invite you to start collecting a new type of data. Though at this point it is only known to be relevant for a subject's paternal ancestors and grandchildren through sons, that may change in the future. This is the heart of collaborative research: we need data; we donít know today, what data will make the difference for us tomorrow; and we need you to find it and share it here. I suggest we start with this small questionnaire that includes some of things used in the current studies.

    The key data for the studies so far completed, seemed to be food abundance and food scarcity. A secondary set of information was gathered about the effects of aspects of nurturing. Reliable indicators, for such subjective concepts, would seem hard to come by, but there are some ways by which you can make rough determinations.

    Beginning with the food aspects
    A child was more likely to have sufficient food if:

    1) he/she lived in a house with two parents (vs one being away/ emigrated/ or dead);
    2) if the parents owned a home or if they lived with a previous generation who owned the home (vs renting, boarding, lodging, et al);
    3) if there less than six children under "working age" at home (generally around 13).

    Rationale - Children who lived with a stepparent were in more danger of being food deprived, more children at home often meant that a pregnant woman ate insufficiently for her and for a female child she was carrying; and rent vs owning, was about having to spend a larger percentage of income or savings on housing, so less money was available for food. More children at home also meant that older children had to work harder to help support the family, be away from the home at more meal times, and be more dependent on the food availabilty at school/ work/ other.
    My grandmother, (born Zipe Ratzi Pilnik) whose Lyakhovichi-born father had returned from the United States the year she was born in Slutsk, lived in a house her parents owned. She was only the third child, and was probably fairly well-fed in-utero. Her older brother who approached puberty in a house where his mother was dead (lived with a step-mother), and where he had three little sibs and three half-sibs all under the age of ten, was despite the house his father owned, clearly less fortunate. He ended up boarding with an aunt and uncle and getting his meals partly in trade for his labor. The food abundance lines seem fairly clear in this case. Several of the questions asked below (about sibling support, about grandparent support, and about the ages at which a child had two parents in the house) relate to nurturing. The final two sets of question about ages at marriage, first children born, and death, along with their associate pieces, may help with correlating some of the data from earlier generations and allow us to see patterns that we can't yet predict.

    So what questions should we ask for a database we can reference publicly? Questions about the food issues above are not hard to construct, but I've tried here to get some answers on the secondary issue of nurturing as well. Here is a first try at material that might cover both Do not provide this information for anyone still living, or anyone born after World War II, (privacy rights should protect them from having their names and key identifier information from being posted publicly )

    Research questions
    Name. Birthyear. Source of data for birthyear
    Names of parents, Ages at child's birth Sources of data.
    Number of older siblings living when born. Number at home. Sources of data.
    Number of younger siblings living when thirteen-sixteen. Number at home. Source of data.
    Was father living at home when born (if female)? Source of data.
    Was father living at home when thirteen-sixteen (if male)?
    Was mother living at home when thirteen-sixteen (if male)?
    Source of data.
    Did the parents own their home when a female was born?
    Did the parents own their home when a boy was thirteen-sixteen?
    Source of data
    Was there a sibling more than four years older in the home? (help in nurturing/ less competitive than ones close in age)Source of data
    Was there a grandparent in the home or very nearby? (help in nurturing)Source of data.
    Was there a sibling less than two years younger? (competition for food and attention)Source of data
    Did the child grow up in a house with two parents between birth and age six?
    Did the child grow up in a house with two parents between six and thirteen?
    Source of data.
    Age at marriage. Age at first child. Number of known children born. Sources of data.
    Age at death. Date of Death. Cause of death. Source of data.

    It is surprising how difficult it is to come up with some of those answers. But if you were looking for a collaborative research project that can positively impact the genealogical community,that can make an amazing amount of data avaialable for historic analysis, and that will also aid in scientific discovery - here is your chance. See how many people in your research - ancestors, their siblings, their cousins, et al, for whom you can provide some answers. Print out a version of the table as a questionnaire for yourself and see how far you can get on how many people. It is probably easiest to move through groups of siblings first. Email us your data. When we have brought together a sufficient data sampling, we will post it and see if members of various scientific communities would care to contribute analysis.

    Some Challenges
    1) How many of your Lyakhovichi links and chains have you submitted to JewishGen's Family Tree of the Jewish People? There are less than twenty posted for Lyakhovichi families. Why don't we change that and build Lyakhovichi resources on that site? Post it there and you get responses from those all over the research community, not only those who already know about their Lyakhovichi connection! We will list those of you who contribute there, index the Lyakhovichi names on your tree, and do a tally of submissions, so we can honor submitters of Lyakhovichi data on several parts of our webpage.

    2) How many of your unidentified pictures have you submitted to JewishGen's ViewMate? We will double post those that you are fairly sure are from Lyakhovichi. We will put them on our pages and if you have not already posted them on JewishGen's ViewMate, and agree to them being placed there, we will post them for you, there as well. You get more people working on your identification problems, we get a larger exposure to Lyakhovichi materials, and the larger Jewish genealogical community learns about the Lyakhovichi resources we offer.

    3) You come up with some challenges that can create Lyakhovichi genealogical resources for all of us!

  • Important Notes about This Page

    All names on this page were included in Surname Index Nov 2009

    Find any name on this page by hitting "control F" on your keyboard and typing in the name.

    Find any name anywhere on this website by going to the Google search bar and typing the name immediately before this phrase

    from the word "site" to the slash after lyakhovichi (just cut and paste it into your browser)

    1890s boy with rolling hoop This picture was posted with other unidentified people on Thought to be surnamed Winogrod from Belarus. A common enough Jewish name, including from our town. Get out your pictures. Post them here and on JewishGen's ViewMate! Lets find out who is who from our town in your collection!

    Why keep your family's letters in a drawer?

    Publish them here. We will give you a way to display them while you conserve and store them properly. Your fellow researchers can help you translate and better appreciate these pieces of your history.

    Zelig Robinson son of Aron Shmuel Rabinowitz
    Marilynn Handelmann searched for years for information on her grandfather Aron Rabinowitz one of 23 children of Simeon Rabinowitz. Simeon's other descendants never heard of him. But when she found this gravestone, it showed the reason - he may have appeared in his son's American records as Aron, but he was called in Lyakhovichi by his middle name Shmuel.