Stories and histories around the Iliatovich, Levin and Shreibman families, and their roots in 19th and early 20th century Russia. In that period Russia was ruled by the Tsars, and Jews were restricted by the Tsarist authorities to living in an area to the west of the Empire, known as the Pale of Settlement, which included parts of what is now Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and western Russia. Our families all came from an area in Belarus stretching from the north-west of the modern country to the south-east. During the last years of the 19th Century and the first years of the 20th, many of them emigrated to the USA and the UK, in a variety of circumstances.

This map* of the Pale of Settlement around 1905 shows the proportion of Jews in the population in various regions. The Belarus area is more or less in the centre, just to the right of the darkest colour - Jews made up 12-14% of the overall population here at that time. Many small towns and villages were predominantly Jewish.

The material presented here focuses mainly on the families of Mikhlya Levin and her brother Leibisch (Lewis), of Mikhlya's husband Shlomo-Dovid Iliatovich, and of Moshe (Morris) Shreibman, who married Mikhlya's daughter Zlata (Sarah).

Early in 2011 Dan Rothstein, Mark and Ralph Graham, and Michael Shade commissioned genealogical research into these three families from the Jewish Heritage Research Group of Belarus. Between us we represented three of the four known children of Mikhlya and Shlomo-Dovid Iliatovich - Shmuil, Zlata, Myer and Hirsch (Harry). In May 2011 we visited the country to find out more, and to see some of the places associated with our forebears.

*Map by Thomas Gun. [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Stories and histories
You can use the tabs at the top of the page to navigate through the material:
  • see the section on The Families for family stories and memories, documentation from census returns, birth, marriage and death certificates and other official sources, genealogical research, family trees, family names, with commentaries and explanations, and discussion of what we know and what we don't know; descendants of Shlomo-Dovid Iliatovich and Mikhlya Levin will be interested in the material on the Iliatovich and Levin families, whilst descendants of Leibisch Levin will head for the Levin pages, and Moshe Shreibman and Zlata Gitovich's families will want to look at all three - Iliatovich, Levin and Shreibman
  • the People section highlights a number of individuals in the various families, and traces some of the key events of their lives
  • Places looks at the towns and villages they lived in, and where they migrated to
  • Photos shows people and places, using both our own photos and a variety of online sources
  • Jewish life looks at family life and the part played by Jews in Russian society
  • Terrible times deals with the events that disrupted and then destroyed Jewish life in the area - pogroms, revolutions, wars and the holocaust - looking in particular at how they affected our families
  • the Migration section follows our forebears' movements across Russia and elsewhere in the world

Belaroots trip May 2011
Belaroots - an account of the trip by Dan, Mark, Ralph and Michael in May 2011.
Photos from the Belaroots trip.
Roots and routes - the start of the journey.