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October 28, 2009
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
. Thank you.
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.
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.
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
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.
Eitan Kremer, Israel
Jan 5, 2008
I am Boris Gitlin born in Belarus in 1957.
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.
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.
Grandfather Israel Shapiro married Sarah (her maiden name also Shapiro)
in the 1890's as in the 1950's they celebrated their Diamond Wedding
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
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.
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),
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
My mother's mother, Bella, was the daughter Israel and Chana.
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 email@example.com
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
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,
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.
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
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
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
Rochelle is a member of the board of the Friends of Jewish Dokshitsy.
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"
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.
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.
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.
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,