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October 28, 2009
Dear all,

We returned from an amazing & a very exciting "Roots-Trip" in Belarus,
which will be remembered by us for many years.

The participants in this trip were as follows :
Menachem Etkin... the story continues

  

I am searching for information on my great grandparents from Dokshitsy. Their names were David and Byna Kamenkovitz. If you have any information, please contact me at bkamen@jbha.org. Thank you.  Barnett Kamen

My grandmother Leah Mushin was born in Dokhshitzy in February, 1873?  to Tsvi and Chana Mushin. There were two siblings - Yankel David, born in 1877and Sarah. Yankel David married Leah Caplan and Sarah married Lazer Cohen. My grandmother Leah married Chaim Fagelman, also of Dokhshitzy, who had a brother by the name of Leiser.

.  The Mushin original family name was Mushi, which came from the grandson of Levi.  So Mushi's son became Mushin over time. The family originated in Druja/Druya in Lithuania.  The name Mushin was rare, so any Mushin is considered to be a relative in some degree to any other Mushin.

My grandmother Leal/Leah left Dokhshitzy in March, 1902 to come to the United States.  Her manifest stated that she left from Antwerp, Belgium on March 29th, 1902 on the ship SS Vaderland accompanied by children Efraim and Schepsa, arriving in New York on April 8th, 1902. 
If anyone knows anything about my Mushin family members,. I would appreciate hearing from you.
Annette Stolberg,
Rochester, NY 

As the person who started the Dokshitz/Parfianov Shtetlinks Web site and also managed the Dokshitz/Parfianov Yizkor Book translation, I fully endorse the work that Aaron Ginsburg has been doing with respect to the Jewish Cemetery and Shoah Memorial site.  He has accomplished much more than anyone with his drive and persistence.  I encourage all descendants of these two towns to fully support his efforts.
Joel Alpert, Woburn, Massachusetts

ko lekhai!
I appreciate and admire your dedication and efforts for this cause. you do a holy work. I am ready to do anything you think will be helpful.
yours
Eitan Kremer, Israel

Jan 5, 2008

I am Boris Gitlin born in Belarus in 1957.

My Grandma, Chaya bat Isaak Gitlin – Komenkovich was born in Dokshitsy in 1902 and after marriage with my Grandfather Boris ben David Gitlin moved to Begoml, small shtetl near Dokshitsy where my Dad Michael Gitlin was born in 1925.

I visited Dokshitsy once in my life together with Maurice Sussman from Canada who was looking for some local people who could provide him with some information about his relatives ( his uncle, local Rabbi), killed by Nazis during the WW2.

I had a luck as well to know Dov ( Boris ) Katsovich whom I met in Petah Tikva in Israel in 1995 who told me a lot of stories about Dokshitsy, local Jewish people and details of what happened during wartime.

December 13, 2007
                   My name is David Shapiro ,born in 1948 in Johannesburg ,South Africa,now residing for the past 33 years in Cape Town ,South Africa.
                  My paternal Grandfather, Israel Shapiro came from Dokshitz,In what I think was probably the late 1800's as my father who was the youngest of his siblings was born in 1908.
                  As a child we were always told that my Grandfathers father(i.e. my great-grandfather) Rabbi Nachum Shapiro was a very learned Rabbi and I read somewere some time ago that he learned with the great Rabbi Israel Salater (founder of the Mussar Movement),who visited Dokshitz at that time.
                  On my Grandfathers tombstone  is written Israel Shapiro eldest son of "Dorsherster (Dokshitz spelt wrong) Illu...an Ilu is supposed to be a term used for a learned person.
                   My grand father had an older sister , Sheina Basa as well as a younger brother Louis who lived in Rhodesia(now Zimbabwe) I believe there were other sisters that I think went to the U.S.A.
                   I am in contact with some of the descendant of  both those siblings,their family names now being Schmiedt,Paul,Kossew & Issacson.
                  My Grandfather Israel Shapiro married Sarah (her maiden name also Shapiro) in the 1890's as in the 1950's they celebrated their  Diamond Wedding anniversary(60years)
                   In the past few months I have discovered from an aquaintance living here in Cape Town, Dr Joe Polliack  is also a descendant of Dokshitz and  I have been in touch with him.He has recently visited Dokshitz and I believe is due to visit there again in the next few months.
                   I am also aware that the Late Rabbi Aloy z''l  ( Rosh Dayan on the Johannesburg Beth Din for many years) was also from Dokshitz as was  Rabbi Yossi Goldman (Rabbi of the Sydenham Synagogue in Johannesburg) mothers family  came from Dokshitz.
 
David Shapiro Capetown, South Africa

               
December 2, 2007
I am a Doksyzer by descent  , and have been in touch , with Aaron Ginsburg  during the course of the past year . I am in awe of what he is doing to keep the flame of memory burning for those of us whose families ( as well as others ) were annihilated during Hitler's war . Aaron  advised me that the dedication of the restored  cemetery , as well as the erection of a plaque at the site of the massacred across the street will take place on 23 may 2008  , which so significantly falls on Log B’Omer .My information is that the Nazis entered  the town on 3 July 1941 , confined the Jews to a ghetto , murdered many on second day Peisach , murdered the rest  mainly on Lag B’omer, 1942  . The Jews who had been there since about 1500 , ceased to exist as a community there  from that day onwards . 
 
I visited Doksyze on the 9 th of September 2005 , having traveled there via Lithuania  I was accompanied by my wife Dinah , a driver named Viktor and a guide / translator  Regina Kopelowitch . Regina ia a well known guide in Lithuania ,  multilingual , knowledgable , and a recognized  researcher  .  It took us several hours to cross the Lithuanian  /   Belarus border .  Our first stop was Gleboki where we were able to look at various documents  which contained the names of pre-war streets in Doksyze and the names of the people who resided in those streets  . We then headed for Doksyze , a distance of about half an hour by car  .The closer we got to Doksyze the faster did my heart beat , the tarred road was good  , farms on the one side , and a never ending mass of trees on the other side … what my parents referred to as a forest  “ wald “ in Yiddish  . We crossed the river Berezino and entered the town, I could hardly contain myself , I abandoned the car , and took myself off to the bank of the river . This was the river that my father had told me  “ran blood  “ in 1803 . This was the river that my father’s  grandfather’s  grandfather had told him , that Napoleon crossed in his unsucsessful attempt to conquer Russia  . And seven generations later I passed this story on to  my children , for them to relate to future generations . We drove through the village , it was beautiful , the trees were so green , the sky so blue , the birds were tweet-tweeting to welcome us . My parents painted a schizophrenic picture of the town …it was home to them, extended families lived in each home , there was love and  warmth  on the one hand . On the other was poverty, lack of opportunity , and antisemitism  .

Our guide Regina took us to the local library  , she said it was always a good place to go to  for information  .; she sent us to one of many old timers in the town , a certain  Christiakov Nikolai Dmitrijevick , known as Nikolai . We drove to his home, knocked on the door , and on seeing him , introduced ourselves . We were immediately  invited into his very humble wooden home , sparsely furnished with a few chairs and fridge in the lounge ,  with toilet somewhere in the back yard  . The garden in the front and back of the house was unkempt . Hospitable he was , a historian by profession I was told , plenty of greying hair  . He was about 16 years of age on that fateful day in 1941 when the nazis , uninvited arrived  . A qick calculation told me that he was now 80 years old . He had vivid memories of the war , witnessed most of what had happened  , he knew my grandmother , and related one or two occasions on which he had occasion to speak to her  . Whatever he said , fitted in with what my parents had told me ,  there existed no reason for me to doubt his words  .A widower he was , his grandson , called Nikki , all of 20 years , had come to visit him that same day… Nikki was a member of the firebrigade and very proud of it  ..

Nicolai. joined us in the car and we commenced our tour of the village , which only recently had been elevated to the status of a town  . The first stop , as is so often the case when Jews look for their roots was  the cemetery  .  I saw the park , unfenced , and a few tombstones there , with  words on them which were barely  decipherable ;  the nazis and later the Soviets had removed all the other tombstones when the cemetary was declared abandoned in 1964 and converted it into a park .Across the road ,was a memorial and statue , at the site of a  mass grave into which some three and a half thousand lifeless bodies  were hurled…. perhaps  some of them  not so lifeless , but what did those murderers care …their lust for  cruelty  and death was insatable  ..I did a kaddish with great difficulty at the memorial   Those victims , denied a holy burial , at least had someone to do a kaddish for them  .Engraved on the memorial were words to the effect that  victims and martyers  of the war lay buried there . No mention of the word Jews …perhaps someone some day will change that ? We visited the post office , I sent a  postcard  to myself (in South Africa )just to make sure it was a real post office . It arrived .  There was a tickey box ( public telephone booth ) nearby , not far away  was an old fashioned grocery store , with counter …not dissimilar to the one that my father had once owned in South Africa . The modern municipal building  not dissimilar  to those in the northern suburbs of Cape Town ,  there was a so called shopping mall , and  a modern bus taking people to Gleboki ..Main streets were tarred . On the main street was a notice board  with pictures of people who had good deeds lately for the town  . I visited the my granny , s house …the nazis had burned it to the the ground, someone had been given the ground and a new double storied home stood in it’s place . I wonder where that most precious of things in a Jewish home ..the candle sticks were ….probably adorning some one’s dining table in Germany  …who knows ?  We left the village in the late afternoon,  , a lifelong dream having been fulfilled , but there were no parents to tell it to .
Joe Polliack Capetown, South Africa

note: The Polliack family has generously supported our efforts. Your support is needed too. Dr. and Mrs. Polliack hope to attend the dedication.

My grandmother was born in Dogshitsy and moved to another shtetl after she married. Her parents last name was Munitz/Mirman—they changed it at some point to avoid having their sons forced into the military. I believe that the following people from the Munitz/Mirman family are buried there:Karl Munitz , born abt 1815, Elke Munitz (Karl’s wife),  their sons:
Israel Munitz born abt 1835/ died 1918 and Abraham Leb Mirman born 1843.  Israel’s Children: Reuven Munitz, died bef 1910. Sara Riva Munitz, died bef 1897.
 I am searching for information about my aunt and her family. My mother’s sister’s maiden name was Sasha Kogon (sp?). In the mid-late 1930’s, she, her husband and their three children went into hiding because the Russian authorities wanted to arrest her husband. I don’t know his name. The only way my mother could communicate with Sasha was through their Aunt Elke who lived in Dokshitsy. Sometime ago, I got to a list of Jews living in Dokshitsy before the war and found 5 Kagans, one of whom was Sasha. I am now wondering if they hid by using her maiden name. The other Kagans listed on Dsika St. were Pesach, Liba, Aharon, and Golde. My aunt Sasha may have been born in 1900 or perhaps early 1900's.  I know this information is very sketchy, but if anyone has any knowledge of Sasha (including her last name and that of her husband and/or children, I would very much appreciate it. .
 
My mother's name in Belarus was Sonya Kogon.  Her name was changed to Sarah Cohen when she came to the U.S. and she became Sarah Axelrod when she married my father in 1916 in Cleveland.  When she last corresponded with her sister Sasha, my parents were living in Akron, Ohio.
 
The family in Dokshitsy had some sons with the last name Munitz and some with the last name Mirman.  I don't know if my great-grandparents changed their last name as well.
 
My mother's mother, Bella, was the daughter Israel and Chana.  
 
 My mother also had more distant relatives from Dokshitsy whose last name was Sorkin.  Meyer Sorkin lived in a couple cities in PA--the last one being Altoona.  He had two sisters, Rose (Richel) and Becky.  Rose was married to Louie Dollar and lived in Cleveland.  Becky's husband's last name was Feldstein and they lived in New York.  They had two daughters, Vivian and Pearl.  Vivian lived in NYC and Pearl lived in NJ.  Do you know anything about this family?
 
Rhea Starr, Lancaster, PA You can email me at rheafstarr@yahoo.com
 
_________________________________________________

hi aaron

as for what the project means to me, here it is:
when i was young, my grandfather regaled me with tales
of his hometown in russia, the wolves, the forests,
the life he left behind. unfortunately, it was only
after his death that i found out the name of the town, dokshitz, not exactly the most felicitous name in english. in 2002 i was finally able to visit dokshitz, aving found out more from a florida cousin who had visited there in 1927, and to see the cemetery, the scene of the 1942 nazi massacre of dokshitz jews. the trip was a very moving experience. i am delighted to be part of this project.
Rochelle G. Ruthchild, ________________________________________________________________________________
 
Dear Mr. Ginsburg,
It was good to hear from you.  My father, Harry Kabakoff, was born in Dokshitz and came to the U.S. in 1923, with his mother and sisters, and joined his father in New Haven.
Last month, the descendants of the Kabakoffs of Dokshitz had a reunion in memphis, with over 120 people attending.  Among the presentations was one on the history of Dokshitz, which included numerous recent photographs taken by a South African cousin, who was  not able to attend.  The presentations and some of the photos will soon be posted on the family website, www.kabakoff.com

I will forward your letter on to the reunion organizers and those on the email list. And I will be making a contribution.

Also, I live in Jamaica Plain, Boston, and so it is nice that there are Dokshitz landsmen in the area.

Marvin Kabakoff
______________________________________________________
 
I wonder if you have identified the tombstones yet. My family name was Alperowicz or Alperovitz. When my grandparents, father and aunt came to New York, the name was changed to Alper. They were Isaac and Gussie Alper, Bella and  Velvel (changed to William.) They left a brother and sister and other family members in Dokshitz who were killed in the massacre. Any information you have would be helpful to me.
 
Anita Alper Fricklas
Centennial CO

 ___________________________________________

Dear Aaron
i do have pictures and my impressions are brief.I did
meet a Jewish family there, very poor, needy, with
serious health problems. as for the town, it is a
fairly typical town of that area, with a former
marketplace in the center and streets from the former
jewish quarter running off it. we visited the
cemetery, which was simply lawn with a world war II
monument, fenced with a black iron fence. i can't
remember now if it had been changed to indicate that
specificallyJews died at this site during the
holocaust. that was the case with the other monuments
i saw in the other shtetlakh of my family that i
visited.
no one we could find remembered my family, but
Dokshitsy is much bigger than it was then, and there
were few possible holocaust survivors or people of
that generation around.
we had a wonderful guide Galina Schwartz, who i highly
recommend.
Rochelle Ruthchild

Rochelle is a member of the board of the Friends of Jewish Dokshitsy.

____________________________________________

I grew up in Newport, RI. Newport was a transplanted Dokshitz, but I did not realize it at the time. I was surrounded by my great Aunts and Uncles, and my father's first cousins and their children, but did not realize what a special experience this was.  I competed with my cousin Barry Kusinitz for the Elix Adelson(our great uncle) medal at the Unitied Hebrew school, where one of the teachers was Bernie Kusinitz, Barry's father and a first cousin of my dad, Maurice Ginsburg. Bernie was among many cousins who greeted my father when he arrived in Newport from Dokshitz in 1921. I do not recall anyone speaking about the family that was lost in the Holocaust.  The loss of such a large portion of Mishpacha must have been overwhelming.  As I have learned about my roots over the last 10 years, I have found out that I am a Cirlin, a Ginsburg and a Kusinitz, and that my relatives are intermarried with the Adelson, Swidler, Lieberman, Shapiro, Gejdenson, Alperovitz, Markman and Schelifer families, all from Dokshitsy, Parafianov, and nearby villages. I composed a memorial to   Dokshitsy and Parafianov  that was read my local shul.  This interest in my family history, combined with my interest in Jewish history, in Yiddikshkeit, and in history generally has prepared me for the task of saving the remains of the cemetery in Dokshitz, safeguarding the sites where so many perished during the Holocaust. and other projects to preserve the memory of the Jewish residents of the Dokshitsy area.  My life seems to have prepared me for this underaking, which came my way by chance. I am depending on your help and generosity to accomplish these holy tasks.

Aaron Ginsburg, Sharon, Massachusetts                                      

President and Treasurer                                    "The Friends of Jewish Dokshitsy,Inc"

________________________________________________

 Dokshitz was the home town of a great part of the Vilna Gaon's family. The Gaon's youngest brother, known as Rabbi Moshe of Podjeloveh (he was Rabbi of Podzelva, known in Yiddish as Podzeloveh) was preceded by his son Rabbi Pinchas Kremer, who moved in his old age to Dokshitz. He served as Dokshitzer Rebbeh and his son Rabbi Eliahu Kremer, named for his great uncle, the Vilna Gaon, served as Dokshitz rabbi after his father's death. Rabbi Eliahu Kremer, the Dokshitz rabbi, made Aliah to Jerusalem with his wife Beileh and his two younger children: Sheina Mir'l and Menachem Mendel Kremer. His two elder sons, Abraham-Yosseph and Hillel Kremer were already rabbis serving in their own communities. I am Sheineh's great granddaughter and my middle name, Miriam is after her. I was born after her death but stories and about her, about her life, about how clever she was - these I heard. There was a story about a gypsy woman. There were gypsies in Dokshitz and Beileh, Mirl's mother admonished her not to open the door to them because they might still. But there was this cold day and Mir'l was alone at home and a Tzigoiner (Gypsy) woman knocked on the door and begged for food. Mirel. though was told not to open, admitted the Gypsy woman in, gave her a bowl of hot soup from the oven and a piece of bread. The Gypsy, grateful, read Mirl's future for her and told her that she will live in a far away country, that she would be married to two old men, very wise and wealthy. Indeed, the gipsy's prophecy was fulfilled when Mirl's parents took her to Jerusalem and she married Rabbi Neumann and after his death married Rabbi Misels.

Also from my great aunt, Feigle, as a proof that her mother Mirl was born in Dokshitz: on the ship coming to Eretz Israel, Mirl made a good friend. This friendship last their whole lives, and Mirl and Mrs Press from Ekron referred to themselves as "ship sisters". Indeed, in years to come, whenever Mir'l needed a rest for recuperation, after child birth or a miscarriage, she was a guest of the Press family of Ekron (Mazkeret Batya).

Mirl was about 13 when her father died. She claimed that he taught her like he taught his sons, because he intended her to be the wife of a very great rabbi, like his friend Rabbi Yaacov Zvi Neumann. Actually, Mirl claimed that he intended her to marry Rabbi Neumann, so when her father died, Rabbi Neumann and Rabbi Meisel were trustees, according to his  will, for his property. Mir'l insisted she wanted to marry Rabbi Neumann according to her father's wish. Her mother opposed the marriage, and so did Rabbi Neumann himself and Rabbi Misel, her guardian, but Mir'l insisted that she was intended for him and that she would marry no one else. In the end the marriage took place.

Feigle, Mirl's youngest daughter said that she heard from her mother that the day after the wedding, Rabbi Yaacov  Zvi gave Mir'l a pouch with gold coins for household money, telling her she can use it without hesitation since it is earned honestly and is not loan dividends or bribery money.

However things didn't run smoothly: Mir'l got pregnant, but had miscarriages, and when she did give birth to babies they were still born or died in early infancy. Maybe she was too young for child bearing, maybe she needed medical treatment. Her husband sent her to the best doctor available: his brother, Prof. Karl  Neumark, physician for Kaiser  Franz Yoseph, in Vienna. Whatever the treatment was, it worked and they had several children. Some died of children deseases, one - Nechama, died at the age of 5, but two children, a daughter and a son, survived and grew up, so the Chatam Soffer's blessing, or prediction to Rabbi Yaacov Tzvi before his marriage to Lea Bennett, was fulfilled.

Mirl was known in the Old City as the Rabbitzen of the Old City, she knew enough to answer questions when the Rabbi was out, and was known for her cleverness and sharp tongue when needed. A family lore tells of her part in building the roof of the Churveh Rabbi Yehuda Chassid synagogue at the Old City. When the synagogue was built by planner and bilder Rabbi Nissan Beck, son of printer Rabbi Israel Beck, there was money to do the roof and the synagogue stood bare without its roof, uncovered. When Kaiser Franz Joseph visited Jerusalem, in 1870, the Rabbis of the Old City received him with great honour, and Rabbi Nissan Beck accompanied him and showed him the synagogue. The Kaiser remarked  "The synagogue has no roof", and there was an uneasy silence for a moment, when Mir'l, who was there, said "The synagogue took off its hat for the Kaiser". The Kaiser laughed at the reply, and promised Rabbi Nissan Beck the money for the building of the roof. Later historians attributed the reply of the building taking its hat off to Rabbi Nissan Beck, but I heard in the family, in my childhood, many times the story of how Mir'l spoke to the Kaiser, and as a result the Kaiser donated the money towards the finishing of the Churveh synagogue.

Indeed this was not the only time that Mir'l met with the Kaiser. There is another story that went in the family, and it involved the time when Mirl stayed, for medicinal purposes, at her brother in law's home, in Vienna. The story is that one morning, it was a Friday morning, Mir'l went for a stroll in the city park. As she was strolling a mounted rider passed her, and stopped to chat with her. Mir' recognised the Kaiser from hre earlier meeting with him, and spoke fluent German. They chatted, and the Kaiser enjoyed the conversation so much that they strolled and talked for hours. In the meantime, there was a growing concern for Mir'l at Prof. Neumark's home, when she didn't return for lunch. As the time drew on and the Sabath was about to enter the concern became worry. Just before the beginning of Shabath, a carriage drew to Karl Neumark's home. Karl, who knew to whom did the carriage with the crest belong, thought there was a medical emergency at the court and rushed out with his medical bag. To his surprise, the Kaiser got out, helped Mir'l out, thanked her for the nice day, and bade the family Shabath Shalom. This story went in the family, and I was told by my second cousin Miri Blass that someone in the family tried to follow up the story and to his surprise discovered that the meeting of the Kaiser and Mir'l was recorded. Miri didn't remember who followed it up and where the record was.

Indeed Mirel was much admire and many girls in the family, born after her death bear names like Miriam, Mirrie, Mira etc., including myself.

Aviva M Neeman

Tel Aviv Israel,

 

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