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                   Location :            Belarus  ,  53ş  09' N  24ş  27'  E            137.5 miles ( 221 Km  ) WSW of Minsk

                   Other names :      Vawkavysk ( Bel ), Volkovysk ( Rus ) , Wolkowysk ( Pol ) . Volkavisk ( Yid ) ,
                                                Volkovyskas ( Lith ) , Waukawysk ( Ger ) , Vilkovisk , Valkevisk , Vaukavysk .

                   Near Large City : Grodno

                   This website is dedicated to the study of Jewish family history in the town of Volkovysk now in Belarus
                    in Grodno Province but formerly part of Bialystok  District , Poland .

                     Jewish Community

                                                 In 1861 the total amount of Volkovysk residents were 3.434 and the Jews were 1202 ( 494 men,708 women )
                                                 ( 35%) , there were 867 property owners( 507 Jews ), Small stores were 100. Bulk storages 4, hotels: 5, Inns : 10
                                                 Alcohol selling stores: 3, small cafes : 23 , Artisans 155 ( 116 were Jews , watchmakers: 3, tinsmiths : 8
                                                 joiners : 18, carpenters : 22 , locksmiths : 2, blacksmiths : 4 , tailors : 35,shoemakers : 31, painters : 18 ,
                                                 sawyers : 14 .
                                                 Manufacturers : Brick: 4, Lime : 1, Tile an pottery : 2 ,Soap: 1, Candles : 2, Beer : 1, Honey processing : 4
                                                 Tannery ; 2, Weaving : 2 and Tobacco : 2 .
                                       In 1928 Volkovysk  Jewish population was 27.254 or 43.2% ot total population .
                                       In 1939 Jewish population decreased to 6901 or 40.1 % of total population .
                                       In 1948 after WWII Jewish population was 25 , in 1999 there were only 31 Jews and in 2009 were only 12 ( twelve ) .
                                       In 1935 before WWII there were three synagogues, 1 Talmud Torah and nine Cheders .
                                       There were two cemeteries  but  one was full and closed for new burials .
                                       There were two mikvahs, One  private Jewish Hospital , a Jewish Theater,  school Gertzliya and also a sport organization " Makkabi "
                                        two Jewish communities Newspapers and one Magazine .



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Old Jewish cemetery in Vawkavysk
St. Wenceslaus Catholic
St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church
                                        of Vawkavysk
                                        of arms of Vawkavysk
Coat of arms
Vawkavysk is located in
Coordinates: 53°10′N 24°28′ECoordinates: 53°10′N 24°28′E
Country Belarus Belarus
Voblast Hrodna Voblast
Raion Vawkavysk
Establishment 1005
 • Chairman of the Executive Committee Mikhail Sitko
 • Town 79 km2 (31 sq mi)
 • Metro 1,192 km2(460 sq mi)
Elevation 161 m (528 ft)
 • Town 43,826[1]
Time zone FET (UTC+3)
 • Summer (DST) N/A (UTC)
Postal code 231900
Area code(s) (+375) 1512
Car plates BG

Vawkavysk (Belarusian: Ваўкавыск, Yiddish: וואלקאוויסק, Polish: Wołkowysk; names in other languages) is one of the oldest towns in southwestern Belarus and the capital of the Vawkavysk raion. It is located on the Wołkowyja River, roughly 98 kilometres (61 mi) from Grodno and 271 kilometres (168 mi) from Minsk. Its population is estimated at 43,826 inhabitants.[1]

Vawkavysk was first unofficially mentioned in the Turov Annals in 1005 and this year is widely accepted as the founding year for Vawkavysk. At that time Volkovysk was a city-fortress on the border of the Baltic and the Slavic ethnic groups. Since 12th century, Volkovysk was the center of a small princedom. The Hypatian Chronicle mentions the city in 1252.


The name is thought to be derived from the local dialect for the phrases for searching for wolves ("wołków isk") or the howling of wolves ("wołków wisk"). Old Belarusian tradition refers to the area surrounding Vawkavysk as once being occupied by vast forestry filled with wolves. The river flowing through the town was named Wołkowyja. This also explains the appearance of a wolf's head or body on the town's coat of arms.[2]

However, modern scholars have also hypothesized that the name of Vawkavysk was of more recent origin and hence succeeded the original legend. Vawkavysk was mentioned in a manuscript written by the priest D. Bułakowski at the end of the 16th or beginning of the 17th century. It was stored in the Sapieha family's library in Ruzhany Palace, where it was translated into Russian in 1881 and published in a Vilnius gazette. According to the manuscript, in the place where Vawkavysk is now situated, were large swathes of forest, through which flowed the now non-existent Nietupa River, and consisted of winding travel routes on which travelers were frequently attacked. Within this forest, two robbers, named Voloko and Visek, had their hide-out. A prince named Vladislav Zabeyko, upon hearing of these attacks, tracked down the robbers and hung them on trees for the birds to feed upon. A settlement was built in the location of the robbers' hide-out, which was named Volokovysek, and occupied by slaves. At the execution site, a large stone was placed but, according to local tradition, was later broken up to be used to build a temple.[2][3][4]


Map of Vawkavysk raion within Grodno Voblast

Vawkavysk is located in the valley basin of the Wołkowyja river near its confluence with the Ros River, which flows, in turn, directly north about 25 kilometres (16 mi) to the Neman River. The historical core of Vawkavysk lies on the left bank of the river. The town has been expanding to the west and south. The town has an urban area of 79 square kilometres (31 sq mi), while together with its metropolitan area it covers 1,192 km2 (460 sq mi).[5] Forests occupy an area of 288.69 km2 (111.46 sq mi), swamps 33.42 km2(12.90 sq mi), and water facilities 14.36 km2 (5.54 sq mi). Its raion is bordered by those of Masty to the north, Zel’va to the east, Pruzhany of Brest oblast to the south, Svislach to the southwest, and Byerastavitsa to the west.

On the left bank of the Wołkowyja, the town is surrounded on three sides by hilly terrain,[2] while the highest point of Vawkavysk proper is Swedish Mountain, located on the southeastern outskirts of town, with its height from the base to the top of its defensive wall varying from 28 to 32.5 metres (92 to 107 ft). The mountain's base is round with a diameter of about 350 metres (1,150 ft). A flat top of "the Swedish mountain" nearly round and is 55 metres (180 ft) wide east to west. The perimeter of the flat top is surrounded by a powerful defensive wall broken in the south by the entrance. The mountains of Zamchishche (Castle Mountain) and Muravelnik (Mouse Mountain) lie to the west and east of Swedish Mountain, respectively.[6]



             Belarus Map East Russian Empire 1882
             Belarus Map
             Grodno Gubernia Map
             Grodno Region
             Volkovysk Map courtesy of Tiptopglobe
             Volkovysk Map courtesy of Google
             Volkovysk District Map in Belarussian
              Pale of Settlement Map


                  Yehuda Beckenstein and Family

 Yehuda Beckenstein,wife and daughter in Volkovysk



                    Jewishgen Calculator Tools .
                    Jewishgen Family Finder ( click here if you like to connect with other researchers )
                    Jewishgen Online Worldwide Burial Registry . ( JOWBR )
                    Jewishgen Belarus Database ( include 1850 Revision Lists )
                    Jewishgen 1897 All Russian Census
                    Jewish Record Indexing-Poland ( JRI-Poland )

                                                 Jewish Personalities born in Volkovysk


Raphael Lemkin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Raphael Lemkin
Raphael Lemkin among the representatives of four states who ratified the Genocide Convention (standing row, first from the right)
Born June 24, 1900
Bezwodne, Volkovysk, Grodno Governorate, Imperial Russia (now Belarus)
Died August 28, 1959 (aged 59)
New York City, United States
Nationality Polish
Occupation Lawyer
Known for coining the term genocide and drafting the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

Raphael Lemkin (June 24, 1900 – August 28, 1959) was a Polish lawyer of Jewish descent, who emigrated to the United States in 1941. He is best known for his work against genocide, a word he coined in 1943[1] from the rooted words genos (Greek for family, tribe, or race) and -cide (Latin for killing).[2][3] He first used the word in print in Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation - Analysis of Government - Proposals for Redress (1944), and defined it as "the destruction of a nation or an ethnic group."


Early life and education

Lemkin was born Rafał Lemkin in the village of Bezwodne during a period when it was part of the Vilna Governorate of the Russian Empire, now in the Vawkavysk district of Belarus. Not much is known of Lemkin's early life. He grew up in a Jewish family and was one of three children born to Joseph and Bella (Pomerantz) Lemkin. His father was a farmer and his mother a highly intellectual woman who was a painter, linguist, and philosophy student with a large collection of books on literature and history.

After graduating from a local trade school in Białystok he began the study of linguistics at the Jan Kazimierz University of Lwów (since 1945 Lviv, Ukraine). He was a polyglot, fluent in nine languages and reading fourteen.[4] It was there that Lemkin became interested in the concept of the crime, which later evolved into the idea of genocide, which was based on the Armenian experience at the hands of the Ottoman Turks then later the experience of Assyrians[5] massacred in Iraq during the 1933 Simele massacre. Lemkin then moved on to Heidelberg University in Germany to study philosophy, and returned to Lviv to study law in 1926, becoming a prosecutor in Warsaw at graduation. His subsequent career as assistant prosecutor in the District Court of Brzeżany (since 1945 Berezhany, Ukraine) and Warsaw, followed by a private legal practice in Warsaw, did not divert Lemkin from elaborating rudiments of international law dealing with group exterminations.

Working life

The plaque (Polish/English), 6 Kredytowa Street, Warsaw, Poland

From 1929 to 1934, Lemkin was the Public Prosecutor for the district court of Warsaw. In 1930 he was promoted to Deputy Prosecutor in a local court in Brzeżany. While Public Prosecutor, Lemkin was also secretary of the Committee on Codification of the Laws of the Republic of Poland, which codified the penal codes of Poland, and taught law at Tachkemoni College in Warsaw. Lemkin, working with Duke University law professor Malcolm McDermott, translated the The Polish Penal Code of 1932 from Polish to English.

In 1933 Lemkin made a presentation to the Legal Council of the League of Nations conference on international criminal law in Madrid, for which he prepared an essay on the Crime of Barbarity as a crime against international law. The concept of the crime, which later evolved into the idea of genocide, was based on the Armenian Genocide[6][7][8] and prompted by the experience of Assyrians[5] massacred in Iraq during the 1933 Simele massacre.[9] In 1934 Lemkin, under pressure from the Polish Foreign Minister for comments made at the Madrid conference, resigned his position and became a private solicitor in Warsaw. While in Warsaw, Lemkin attended numerous lectures organized by the Free Polish University, including the classes of Emil Stanisław Rappaport and Wacław Makowski.

In 1937, Lemkin was appointed a member of the Polish mission to the 4th Congress on Criminal Law in Paris, where he also introduced the possibility of defending peace through criminal law. Among the most important of his works of that period are a compendium of Polish criminal fiscal law, Prawo karne skarbowe (1938) and a French language work, La réglementation des paiements internationaux, regarding international trade law (1939).

World War II

During the Polish Defensive War of 1939 Lemkin joined the Polish Army and defended Warsaw during the siege of that city, where he was injured by a bullet to the hip, afterward evading capture by the Germans. In 1940 he traveled through Lithuania to reach Sweden, where he first lectured at the University of Stockholm. With the help of his pre-war associate McDermott, Lemkin received permission to enter the United States, arriving in 1941.

Although he managed to save his life, he lost 49 relatives in the Holocaust; they were among over 3 million Polish Jews and Lithuanian Jews who were murdered during the German occupation. Some members of his family died in areas annexed by the Soviet Union. The only European members of Lemkin's family who survived the Holocaust were his brother, Elias, and his wife and two sons, who had been sent to a Soviet forced labor camp. Lemkin did however successfully aid his brother and family in emigrating to Montreal, Canada in 1948.

After arriving in the United States, at the invitation of McDermott, Lemkin joined the law faculty at Duke University in North Carolina in 1941.[10] During the Summer of 1942 Lemkin lectured at the School of Military Government at the University of Virginia. He also wrote Military Government in Europe, which was a preliminary version of his more fully developed publication Axis Rule in Occupied Europe. In 1943 Lemkin was appointed consultant to the U.S. Board of Economic Warfare and Foreign Economic Administration and later became a special adviser on foreign affairs to the War Department, largely due to his expertise in international law.

In 1944, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace published Lemkin's most important work, entitled Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, in the United States. This book included an extensive legal analysis of German rule in countries occupied by Nazi Germany during the course of World War II, along with the definition of the term genocide.[11] Lemkin's idea of genocide as an offense against international law was widely accepted by the international community and was one of the legal bases of the Nuremberg Trials. In 1945 to 1946, Lemkin became an advisor to Supreme Court of the United States Justice and Nuremberg Trial chief counsel Robert H. Jackson.


The origin of the word genocide.

After the war, Lemkin chose to remain in the United States. Starting in 1948, he gave lectures on criminal law at Yale University. In 1955, he became a Professor of Law at Rutgers School of Law in Newark. Lemkin also continued his campaign for international laws defining and forbidding genocide, which he had championed ever since the Madrid conference of 1933. He proposed a similar ban on crimes against humanity during the Paris Peace Conference of 1945, but his proposal was turned down.

Lemkin presented a draft resolution for a Genocide Convention treaty to a number of countries in an effort to persuade them to sponsor the resolution. With the support of the United States, the resolution was placed before the General Assembly for consideration. The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was formally presented and adopted on December 9, 1948. In 1951, Lemkin only partially achieved his goal when the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide came into force, after the 20th nation had ratified the treaty. This treaty had confined its consideration solely to physical aspects of genocide which The Convention defines as:

…any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, such as:
  • (a) Killing members of the group;
  • (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  • (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  • (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
  • (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Lemkin's broader concerns over genocide, as set out in his "Axis Rule in Occupied Europe",[12] also embraced what may be considered as non-physical, namely, psychological acts of genocide which he personally defined as:

  • "Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups. Genocide is directed against the national group as an entity, and the actions involved are directed against individuals, not in their individual capacity, but as members of the national group."
  • "Genocide has two phases: one, destruction of the national pattern of the oppressed group; the other, the imposition of the national pattern of the oppressor. This imposition, in turn, may be made upon the oppressed population which is allowed to remain or upon the territory alone, after removal of the population and the colonization by the oppressor's own nationals."

He also outlined his various observed "techniques" [13] on achieving genocide which ranged from:

  • Political
  • Social
  • Cultural [14][15]
  • Economic
  • Biological
  • Physical:
  • Endangering Health
  • Mass Killing
  • Religious
  • Moral

Less well known was Lemkin's view on crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Soviet Union. In 1953, in a speech given in New York City, he described the "destruction of the Ukrainian nation" as the "classic example of Soviet genocide," going on to point out that "the Ukrainian is not and never has been a Russian. His culture, his temperament, his language, his religion, are all different... to eliminate (Ukrainian) nationalism... the Ukrainian peasantry was sacrificed...a famine was necessary for the Soviet and so they got one to order... if the Soviet program succeeds completely, if the intelligentsia, the priest, and the peasant can be eliminated [then] Ukraine will be as dead as if every Ukrainian were killed, for it will have lost that part of it which has kept and developed its culture, its beliefs, its common ideas, which have guided it and given it a soul, which, in short, made it a nation... This is not simply a case of mass murder. It is a case of genocide, of the destruction, not of individuals only, but of a culture and a nation."[16]

On Sunday, 20 September 1953, “10,000 Americans of Ukrainian descent. . .gathered at Washington Square, as many of their compatriots had done on Nov. 18, 1933, in a protest parade that moved up Fifth Avenue to Thirty-fourth Street and hence to the meeting place on Eight Avenue,” reported The New York Times. [11] Among the marchers were members of clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of America and people in Ukrainian folk costumes. Later, an audience 3,000 strong filled the Manhattan Center, while “hundreds more stood on the sidewalks at Thirty-fourth Street.” Ukrainians had gathered to remember “that dark hour in the history of the Ukraine when 5,000,000 inhabitants of the Russian ‘granary’ were starved to quell the resistance of an independent people to the Soviet regime.” Congressman Arthur G. Klein, noted the Times, “urged that the fight for Ukrainian liberation be continued,” while Raphael Lemkin “said that high crime had been employed 100 years ago against the Irish.” The Ukrainian Weekly was more explicit on Lemkin’s speech:

Lemkin’s views on the Ukrainian genocide remained obscured for 55 years. His perceptive analysis of the Ukrainian tragedy remained virtually unknown and hardly ever figured in publications on the famine of 1932-1933 or studies of genocide. The text was brought to public attention only in 2008. Lemkin’s holistic approach to the Soviet regime’s systematic destruction of the Ukrainian nation was highly innovative in its time and has not lost its significance today.


For his work on international law and the prevention of war crimes, Lemkin received a number of awards, including the Cuban Grand Cross of the Order of Carlos Manuel de Cespedes in 1950, the Stephen Wise Award of the American Jewish Congress in 1951, and the Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1955. On the 50th anniversary of the Convention entering into force, Dr. Lemkin was also honored by the UN Secretary-General as "an inspiring example of moral engagement."

Lemkin is the subject of the plays Lemkin's House by Catherine Filloux (2005),[17] and If The Whole Body Dies: Raphael Lemkin and the Treaty Against Genocide by Robert Skloot (2006).[18]

Rabbis for Human Rights-North America's Raphael Lemkin Human Rights Award is named in honor of Lemkin.


Lemkin died of a heart attack at the public relations office of Milton H. Blow in New York City in 1959, at the age of 59. Only seven people attended his funeral.[19] He was buried in Mount Hebron Cemetery, Flushing, Queens, New York.[20]

Eliyahu Golomb

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Eliyahu Golomb, founder of the Haganah

Eliyahu Golomb (Hebrew: אליהו גולומב‎, born 2 March 1893, died 11 June 1945) was the leader of the Jewish defense effort in Mandate Palestine and chief architect of the Haganah, the underground military organization for defense of the Yishuv between 1920 and 1948.[1][2][3] at the age of 52. His son David later served as a member of the Knesset.

Zerach Warhaftig

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Zerach Warhaftig
Zerach Warhaftig.jpg
Date of birth 2 February 1906
Place of birth Volkovysk, Russian Empire
Year of aliyah 1947
Date of death 26 September 2002 (aged 96)
Knessets 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Faction represented in Knesset
1949–1951 United Religious Front
1951–1955 Hapoel HaMizrachi
1955–1981 National Religious Party
Ministerial roles
1961–1974 Minister of Religions

'Zerach Warhaftig (Hebrew: זרח ורהפטיג‎, Yiddish: זרח ווארהאפטיק, also Zorah Wahrhaftig, 2 February 1906 - 26 September 2002) was an Israeli lawyer and politician. He was a signatory of Israel's Declaration of Independence.


Zerach Warhaftig was born in Volkovysk in the Russian Empire (today Vaŭkavysk, Belarus) in 1906. His parents were Yerucham Warhaftig and Rivka Fainstein.

In 1941 Warhaftig and his family travelled east from Lithuania to Japan. On 5 June 1941 the Warhaftigs left Yokohamaon the Japanese ocean liner Hikawa Maru and on 17 June they landed at Vancouver, Canada.[1] He described the trip as "a summer vacation and with the war seeming to be so far away" although, he said "I didn't have a peaceful mind because of the strong responsibility I had to help the Jewish refugees with the troubles they faced."[1]

In World War II Rabbi Warhaftig convinced the Japanese Vice-Consul in Kaunas, Lithuania, Chiune Sugihara, to issue visas for the entire Mir Yeshiva. By so doing, Chiune Sugihara saved thousands of lives and families from the Nazis who had occupied first Poland and then Lithuania.

In 1947 Warhaftig immigrated to Mandatory Palestine. Initially he joined the Hapoel HaMizrachi party, a religious-zionistparty, and in 1949 he was elected to the first Knesset as part of the United Religious Front, an alliance betweenMizrachi, Hapoel HaMizrachi, Agudat Yisrael and Agudat Yisrael Workers. In 1948-1963 he taught Jewish Law at theHebrew University of Jerusalem.

The party contended in the 1951 elections alone. Although it won only two seats, it was included in David Ben-Gurion's coalition, and Warhaftig was appointed Deputy Minister of Religions in the fourth government. In 1956, Hapoel HaMizrachi and Mizrachi merged to form the National Religious Party. Warhaftig led the party and retained his ministerial role until the end of the third Knesset.

After the 1961 elections (the fifth Knesset) he was appointed Minister of Religions, a position he held until 1974. In 1981 he retired from the Knesset.

Warhaftig was among the founders of Bar-Ilan University.

Awards and recognition[edit]

  • In 1983 Warhaftig was awarded the Israel Prize, for his special contribution to society and the State of Israel in the advancement of Hebrew law.[2]
  • In 1989 he received the Yakir Yerushalayim (Worthy Citizen of Jerusalem) award from the city of Jerusalem.[3]

The Dr. Zerah Warhaftig Institute for Research on Religious Zionism at Bar Ilan University is named for him.[4]

Benjamin Blumenfeld

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Benjamin Blumenfeld (24 May 1884, Volkovysk – 5 March 1947, Moscow) was a Russian chess master.

He was born in Volkovysk, Russian Empire (today Vawkavysk, Belarus). In 1905/06 he tied for second/third with Akiba Rubinstein, behind Gersz Salwe, in St. Petersburg (the fourth Russian championship). In 1907 he tied for second/third with Georg Marco, behind Mikhail Chigorin, in Moscow.

In 1920 he took eighth in Moscow (Russian Chess Olympiad, 1st URS-ch). The event was won by Alexander Alekhine. In 1925 he tied for second/third with Boris Verlinsky, behind Aleksandr Sergeyev, in the Moscow championship.

He invented the Blumenfeld Gambit (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nf3 b5).

                                                                           The Family of Abraham Friedberg

Abraham Friedberg
Abraham Friedberg was born Abraham Judel Taratotsky on September 17, 1883, in Volkovysk, Byelorussia, the son of Bezalel Taratotsky and his second wife Leiba Frieda (maiden name unknown). He was the youngest child, the only child of his mother. There were three other children by Bezalel's first wife, Gila Argenetsky; a girl, Dora, and twin boys.

Bezalel was an itinerant tinker, that is, he went from town to town fixing things. Leiba Frieda was much younger than her husband and had the responsibility of caring for her son Judel and her three stepchildren.
Photo:Betzalel Taratotsky with his son, Abraham Judel, circa 1890.

One evening, while Bezalel was out of town, the twin boys complained it was very cold. Leiba Frieda told them to sleep inside the fireplace on a ledge where it would be warm. The next morning, when she awoke, she found the boys dead, asphyxiated by fumes from the fireplace. The boys were buried the next day according to Jewish law. When people died in town, it was customary to hold a feather to their nose to demonstrate they were not breathing therefore confirming their death. There was a rumor in Volkovysk, where superstition was part of daily life, that this test was not done, and the boys were not dead but buried alive.

When Bezalel returned home a few days later and heard the news he was besides himself. Family legend says that he cried so hard and rubbed his eyes so much from the anguish of his loss that he blinded himself. There are three known pictures of Bezalel Taratotsky in existence, each taken at a different time of his life. In all, his right eye is half closed as if it had a permanent droop.

Things were never the same between the husband and wife after the incident. Leiba Frieda decided to abandon her husband and, in about 1887, left Poland and traveled to Palestine with her small son Judel. When she arrived there, the Turkish government refused to allow Judel to remain in the country. Male Jews were not permitted to be permanent residents. Leiba Frieda took her son back to Volkovysk, left him with his father, and returned to Palestine where she lived the rest of her life as a pious woman, praying daily. She died about 1900 and supposedly is buried on Mt. Carmel near Haifa.

Young, motherless Judel was brought up by his half sister Dora, until she immigrated to the United States about 1891. When he was about eight years old he learned a trade, that of a bricklayer, the occupation of many of his cousins.
Photo: 1936 bricklayers union card of Abraham Friedberg.

Rose Cemnic Friedberg
Rose Friedberg was born Frushe Cemnic (pronounced Tzemnitz) on July 7, 1888, in Jalowka, Poland, a town about 30 miles southwest of Volkovysk. She was the eldest child of Abraham Cemnic (c1847-1919) and Sarah Malka Warnofsky (c1866-1922) and had a younger brother Meir (called Zaidele) and sister Sima (Sadie). Sarah Malka was the second wife of Abraham. He divorced his first wife of 12 years because she was barren. Abraham was a weaver by trade but was also a money lender. He was quite rich and employed servants.

Rose's sister, Sadie, immigrated to the United States on July 1, 1913 on the SS Gothland from Antwerp. She married Samuel Lazovick and lived in Philadelphia until her death in 1997 at age 99. Their brother Zaidele remained in Bialystok and died during the Holocaust. He was married and his one daughter, Tzima, a participant in the Bialystok resistance movement, died also.

In their early teens, Frushe and Judel were part of the same social group. She had her eye on him because he was a very handsome man; however, he was accounted for--he had a girl friend. No problem for Frushe. She bought herself a beautiful belt, put it on and went over to Judel's girlfriend and exclaimed, "Look at the beautiful present Judel got me." The girl was furious and refused to associate with her boyfriend after the incident.

They were married on October 25, 1902, Frusha was just 14 years old and Judel was 19.

They lived in Bialystok, a major Polish city just 25 miles northwest of Jalowka. Their first child was born in 1903, a girl named Frieda, who was named for Judel's mother who had died some months earlier. While Frusha was pregnant with her first child, a witch told her that the child belonged to her, and if she would not share the child, it would die. Frusha was petrified. After the child was born, she brought her to the witch's home and left her as requested. This process of sharing the child became tiresome and one day she stopped bringing the baby to the witch. The child died shortly thereafter.

The young couple decided it was time to leave Poland and immigrate to the United States. As was the custom with many couples then, the husband immigrated first, found a job, and then called for his wife. Judel came to United States about 1904. The exact date is not known. He arrived in New York and no doubt went to his sister Dora's house. For some reason, he went to Chicago to visit relatives. Who these people were is not exactly known, but there were Taratotskys as well as Cemnics living in Chicago in the first decade of this century.

Judel was having a good time in the United States. He was a very handsome man and was not very motivated to call for his wife. His family set him straight and finally Frushe arrived in New York on December 19, 1905, on the SS Blucher from Hamburg, Germany. At that time, Judel was living at 17 Barclay Street on the Lower East Side of New York.

When Judel Taratotsky changed his name to Abraham Friedberg is not known but it appeared to be a gradual process. One family legend says it was changed at Ellis Island. This is definitely not so. Another legend says that it was changed at the bricklayers union office. This might be true regarding the `Friedberg' part of his new name. Evidence suggests he first changed his name to Joe Friedberg. That is how he is named on his eldest son's birth certificate. `Joe' was the Americanizing of Judel and Friedberg was the married name of his sister Dora. What motivated him to change his first name from Joe to Abraham is unknown but Judel Taratotsky's American name became Abraham Friedberg, the exact name of his brother-in- law.

Photo: Abraham and Rosse Friedberg on the occassion of their 60th wedding anniversary in 1961

The couple lived their entire life on the Lower East Side of New York. They had eleven children in the United States: Hyman (Herman), Rebecca (Peggy), Sadie (Sally), Philip, Henry, Tzerel (Sylvia), Rhoda (died aged nine months), Alvin, Murray, Benjamin and Natalie.

    The Friedberg family portrait taken in 1936 on the occasion of Abraham and Rose's 35th wedding anniversary.
  • Seated on floor: Arlene Rosenthal, Carl Berger, Anita Berger, Natalie Friedberg
  • Seated: Peggy Friedberg Berger, Herman (Hy) Fried, Rose Cemnic Friedberg, Abraham Friedberg, Pearl Rafalowitz Friedberg, Stella Terris Fried
  • Standing: Murray Freidberg, Alvin Fried, Sam Berger, Sallie Friedberg Rosenthal, Jack Rosenthal, Sylvia Friedberg Mokotoff, Jack Mokotoff, Toby Sparber Fried, Henry Fried, Philip Fried, Benjamin Fri


                                                                             Courtesy of Avotaynu( Gary Mokotoff)

Related Web Sites

                    Jewishgen Communities Database for Volkovysk
                    Polin Museum of History of the Polish Jews
                    Yachad in Unum
          Volkovysk District
          Volkovysk Jewish Virtual Library
          Belarus SIG
          Jewishgen Belarus resources
          Lo Tiskach (European Jewish Cemeteries Iniative ) for Volkovysk .
           Select : Cemetery ID : 7093 , Country : Belarus , City : Vawkavysk
          National Historical Archives of Belarus in Grodno ( Repository place for Volkovysk )
          Routes to Roots Foundation records for Volkovysk
          Main Census Records for Volkovysk
          Genealogical Records for Volkovysk District 1939-1944
          Period of Occupation Nazi of Belarussian Cities
          Alphabetical List of Survivors for Volkovysk courtesy of USHMM
          Museum of Polish Jews
          Volkovysk description from the Museum of Polish Jews
          Virtual Shtetl
          Information Portal of Sites of Remembrance
          Beit Hatfutsot Records search in The Museum of Jewish People
          Yad Vashem List of Massacres on Volkovysk area
          Yad Vashem Shoah Victims Database
          Jewish People around the World
          Israel Genealogy Research Association ( Researching Family in Israel with free registration )
          The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe
          Encyclopedia Judaica . Jews in Volkovysk
          Boris Feldblyum Collection . Photos from Volkovysk
          Samuel Gruber's Jewish Arts & Monuments
          Volkovysk International Jewish Cemetery Project

                                                                 Yizkor BookS

          Wolkovisker Yizkor Book

          Actual Translation Site of Yizkor Book( in progress )

          Volkovysk Yizkor Book were scanned by The New York Public Library, Dorot Jewish Division.. 
          the pages can be viewed in the original format:


         Hurban Volkovisk be-Milh emet ha- olam ha-sheniyah (1946)

Volkovisker yisker-bukh (1949)


Wolkowysk: sipurah shel kehilah yehudit-tsiyonit, hushmedah ba-shoad 1941-1943 (1988

                                                                                 Compiled by Joseph Bekinschtein
                                                                                              Last updated  29 November 2014
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