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Letters to the Editor

I recently came across some interesting information about the Kolonyes in David E. Fishman's "Russia's First Modern Jews: The Jews of Shklov" (New York University Press, New York, 1995)."

On p. 123:

"In 1806, acute poverty led a group of thirty-six families from the region [of Shklov] to apply for resettlement to agricultural colonies in New Russia. Less than a year later, the number of applicants for resettlement from the Mogiliev province mushroomed to 338 families (or 1,955 souls) and then to 600 families (approximately 3,600 souls). Most of the applicants were rural Jews who were expelled from the countryside, and not inhabitants of cities and towns such as Shklov. But they stressed in their petition to Tsarist officials that the urban Jewish communities in their province were themselves impoverished, and had proven incapable of absorbing migrants."

P. 135:

" The Galician Maskil Joseph Perl referred to the noble Jews of Shklov in his epistolary novella "Bohen tsadik" (The Test of the Righteous; Prague, 1838), a fantastic exposť of the foibles of all classes and sectors of East European Jewish society. The book's traveling protagonist, Ovadiah b. Petahia, found only one truly righteous figure in all his journeys -- a Jewish farmer from the Mogilev province who had settled on one of the Jewish agricultural colonies in New Russia [i.e., the Ukraine]. A disciple of the Vilna Gaon, he plowed the field by day and studied Torah at night. The farmer had settled as a member of the group headed by the Shklov merchant Nahum Finkelstein, who was depicted by Perl as a glorious servant of his people, dedicated to their economic rejuvenation. In the seamy universe of "Bohen Tsadik," the only righteous Jews were from Shklov."

Yours truly, Michoel Ronn

Brooklyn, NY

netronn@hotmail.com

Mystery Picture

From Terri Naiditch:

terrin50@msn.com

"My father in law is Velvel (Zev) Naiditch from Dumbrovits, but we are not sure which Dumbrovitz."

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