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       Date Last Updated: 18-May-2012

Vitebsk Families Stories and Pictures


Schenkman/Shenkman/ Fr(e)idman Family

This information was donated by AC.

The family is from Volyntsy (Latitude: 5542, Longitude 2811), which was a very small shttetl, located in the western part of Vitebsk gubernia, Drissa uyezd. It is located west of Polotsk on the road between Borkovitchi and Drissa. I have found it on a map entitled Russian Baltic Provinces 1914 in which it is spelled Volynetz. The other spellings: Valyncy, Volintza, Valintsy. On my grandmother's immigration papers at Ellis Island, it is spelled Walintze. (The reason that I'm emphasizing this is that there is another town near Gomel with the same name but it is not in Vitebsk gubernia. I searched for years to find the right town and have talked with people who are also mixed up because of the two towns.)

The town also appears on the map printed by the Union of Religious Jewish Congregations of the Republic of Belarus in 2002. Volyntsy was the site of a mass execution of Jews during the Holocaust including members of my exended SHENKMAN family. No Jewish cemetery exists today in the town and I believe no Jews live there now.

My grandmother's maiden name (in Belarus) was Sura Schenkman/Shenkman. She anglicized it to Sarah Shankman when she came to the U.S. in 1910. Her mother's maiden name was Rokhel Leah Friedman or Fridman. Rokhel Leah lived in Volyntsy, after she got married; but may have had family or came originally from Drissa. Sarah had two sisters, Shimka Riva (Sadie) and Dube and three brothers, Chaim David, Leib and Borukh. Dube and her husband ran a bicycle factory in Riga. One of the brothers was an engineer with a Special Permit to work outside the Pale. Sadie moved to the U.S. in 1912. We do not know what happened to the rest of her immediate family.

I am hoping to receive more information from the town's director of the local museum. I have also been told that the local school conducted a research project a few years ago to learn the names and history of the Jews who lived in Volyntsy. I will be finding out more about that too. I have a cousin in Israel who lived in the town with his family in the 1960's -1970's. He now lives in Israel but because I don't speak either Russian or Hebrew, I have been unable to communicate with him regarding the town.



Click here to see a map of the area. This map is part of a larger map, which was originally published by Baldwin & Gradock,London, 1835.