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Sarava and Kamianiec (Kamenets) from Google Earth      

Sarava to Kamenets

Sarovo [Yid] (now Sarava, Belarus)

Jewish agricultural colony near Kamenets Lithuania (Kamenets de-Lita) in Brisk (Yid) (Brest-Litovsk) District (Grodno Gubernia of the Russian Empire). Sarowo was named after the biblical Sarah, our matriarch.  It was founded in 1850 on government land. The 24 founding families came from Brisk, and each family received a land of 26 hectares (260 Dunham). When the families grew, some of them asked to purchase additional land to be able to make a living, but their requests were not approved. Consequently, they left the colony to return to the city (Brest-Litovsk) and their plots were bought by the remaining families. A son of one of the settlers, Israel Ashkenazi, made Aliya to Eretz Israel and was a co-founder of the settlement Yesud HaMa'ala. In Sarowo there was a Beit Midrash [synagogue; house of learning] and near it a Cheder [Torah school] for the children of the village.

In the early 20th century the village had 14 families. During World War I, three-quarters of the buildings in the settlement were burned and the livestock was stolen by the Russian and German soldiers.

After the war, the settlement was resettled with the help of the Joint Distribution Committee. The Census of 1921 included 47 residents - all Jews. During the German occupation (World War II), the Jews were brought from Sarowo to the ghetto in Kamenets and perished there with the local Jews.

    The colony Sarovo was founded in 1848. Jewish families began to settle there in 1849. There were two main reasons why Jewish families decided to settle in colonies. One was because the sons of settlers were granted permission not to serve in the Tzar's army. The other reason is simply that they moved there in hopes for better life. According to 1858 (Russian) census, the Jewish population of Sarovo counted 11 families or 67 people. The most number of Jewish residents was registered in the 1874 census: 23 families or 124 people. Only one family wasn't Jewish.  In 1874, the army exemption for settlers was cancelled and Jews started to leave colonies for larger shtetls and towns. In 1897, only 13 Jewish and 2 non-Jewish families were left in Sarovo. We don't have any information for later years; maybe the Grodno Archive does. I think the reason why colonies stopped existing is because most of its Jewish residents were killed* at the time of WW II (1941-1945).
    Sarovo is located in Kamenetz region. We've called Kamenetz authorities to get more information and they told us that the village still exists, but it is dying slowly. It counts 9 elderly residents and none of them are Jews.  In the Grodno Archive there is information on Colony Sarovo residents for 1850-1906.

* See the first column of the reference.


Jewish agricultural colony in the county of Dmitrovitz in the Brisk [Yid] District (Brest in the Russian Empire). Abramowo, named after the patriarch Abraham, was founded in 1851 on government land near the town of Kamenetz D’Lita (Litovsk) in Lithuania. (The colony was also known as Pleisiszcze, a village adjacent to the colony.)

According to a survey conducted in 1872, it was comprised of 10 Jewish families that had 10 plots of low quality land (sandy soil). The Colony was part of the Brisk District of Grodno Gubernia (Province).

In 1921, there were 97 Jews in Abramowo. There were no non-Jews. Around the year 1935, 75% of the colony’s farmers were Jews and the rest Belarussians.

During the German occupation in early January 1942, a ghetto was established  in Kamenetz-Litovsk and the Jews of Abramowo were brought there. On 9 November 1942, the Abramowo Jews were taken together with the local Jews to the train station in Wysokie-Litovsk (Lithuania) in the Grodno Gubernia, and from there they were transported to Treblinka and murdered.

Polesie (now Polesia) is a very large swampy area located mainly in Belarus and Ukraine, with parts in Poland and Russia.  About 4 percent of the Jews in Polesie were farmers; most of them in 7 Jewish agricultural settlments  that were established in the early fifties of the 19th century, during the time of Czar  Nicholas I. The establishment was part of government policy to move the Jews to productive work. Most settlers came from towns in the area. Here, as elsewhere, the settlers lacked knowledge in agriculture and finance and on top of these suffered hostility from the Russian officials who were abusing them. All of these severely damaged the farmers and the colonies did not develop properly. Most colonies were concentrated in the northwest Polesie. Three of them were near Kamenetz – D’Lita (Lithuania) (Abramo, Lotoba, and Soroba), two were established near Rozna (Pavlova and Konstantinova), and two were in the district of Drohitz'in (Evanyaki and Yakobolbo).

During World War I, the colonies were hit and restoration work done after the war helped just a little to stabilize their economy, as they were hit again in the thirties due to the economic crises that befell Poland. Jews outside the colonies cultivated small fruit and vegetable gardens. Many Jewish households also had a cow and/or a goat to help feed their families.

According to education data of two provinces that Polesie was part of, only one third of the Jewish children of school-age attended some educational institutions. About two-thirds of these children attended Cheder and, of the remaining third, most of them attended private schools and the minority public schools.



Lotovo was named after biblical Lot and was also known as Plisich. It was settled somewhat before 1850. Little has been found about the colony to date, including its exact location.  The Grodno Archive has the results of the Russian Censuses from 1850 to 1864 that indicate there were "Jews working on the land" at Colony Lotovo during that time. Its Jewish residents were killed during WW II.


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Copyright 2012 Sherwin Sokolov
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