As our Rabbi has frequently called the Amidah, the Prayer par excellence, so do I call Professor Yaffa Eliach's book, There Once Was a World, the Yizkor Book par excellence. This mammoth book about the shtetl of Eishishok is the epitome of Yizkor Books. Yaffa Sohnensohn Eliach was born in Vilna but brought up in the village, now called Eishiskes in Lithuania. In its heyday as an active Jewish community, its Jewish inhabitants called it Eishyshok.
Eishyshok was apparently settled in the 10th Century. There is evidence of a small Jewish presence there in the 11th Century. Written evidence existed of five founding Jewish families. Names of three of these are still known and members of these families still exist. Over the years, these families were joined by immigrants from Germany, France, Spain and all those other areas that were inimical to Jews. In these early years, Lithuania was a pagan country ruled by Pagan rulers. Jews were treated as equals in every respect to all other inhabitants. There were many partnerships between pagans and Jews.
In 1386, Lithuania became Catholic through the marriage of its ruler, Jagiello, to the Polish Catholic Princess, Jadowiga. From then on, events turned against the Jews and in 1495, three years after the Spanish expulsion, the Jews were also expelled from Lithuania. In short order, this expulsion was overturned, however, because the Jewish merchants and money lenders were needed by the local Magnates for their skills. When the Jews returned, their land and property were returned to them. Gradually, however, Polish nobility moved into Lithuania and became the Lithuania nobility. Under this nobility, were the land holders or Magnates. The Jews became the middle men between the Magnates and the serfs. They were Merchants, Estate Managers, Tax Collectors, Farmers and Shop Keepers. Communities called shtetlach, or small cities, developed and grew, A principal activity in these shtetlach was the establishment of weekly markets benefiting all, Lithuanians and Jews . The market days were days on which the Torah was not read.
Eishishok is a community geographically at the crossroads of Poland, Lithuania and Russia. It was only 40 miles from Vilna, called the Jerusalem of Lithuania because it was the heart of Jewish culture in Eastern Europe.
Before the year 1772, in Russia, there were few Jews and those that did live there had to have special permission. On December 9, 1762, Catherine, the Great proclaimed "that all foreigners were permitted to live in Russia, except Jews". Poland and Lithuania had become a combined territory and was the home of many Jews. In 1772, because of weak leadership and defeat in war, Poland, which then included Lithuania, was partitioned and pieces given to her stronger neighbors. The Northeastern portion including Plotsk and Vitebsk were ceded to Russia. The Northwestern portion (including Chelm) was ceded to Prussia. and the Southern Portion (Galicia-including Zamost and Lwow) went to Austria. (The Austro-Hungarian Empire)
In 1793, the remainder of Poland was again partitioned. Prussia gained the area around Danzig as well as a separate western section including Kalisch, Poznan, and Torun. The eastern section, including Brataslov, Zhitomir, Pinsk and Minsk went to Russia.
The third and final partition took place in 1795. Kovno, Vilna, Grodno, Novogradok, Brest and Lutsk went to Russia. Poland, as a country, had now ceased to exist. However, most of the area that had been Poland was now inside of Russia. Russia now included a huge area with a very large Jewish population living in all of the cities mentioned above. In 1794, it was decreed that the Jews had to remain within theirr own territory and this territory was called the Pale of Settlement.
Napoleon was defeated in 1815. The Congress of Vienna again chopped up this area and the largest piece was given to Russia. This piece was called the Kingdom of Poland, Russia Poland, or Congress Poland. The Jews from the Northern portion of this area called themselves Litvaks and those from the south were Galicianers. As you can see, both borders (Poland and Lithuania) changed over and over.
After the Shoah, there were some 600,000 Jewish survivors or about 10% of the total of those murdered. There were a few survivors from most Jewish Communities. These survivors were scattered throughout the world, having fled to Palestine/Israel, USA, South Africa and many South American countries. These survivors knew that their communities no longer existed but they also knew that if they didn't tell their stories, the communities would cease to exist not only in actuality but also in the world's memory. They therefore formed Survivors Committees to publish books containing the stories of their now vanished communities. These books, usually written in Hebrew or Yiddish, were called collectively, Yizkor Bukher or Memor Books. There are thousands of these books.
The first time I heard of Eishishok came in a letter one of Harriet's relatives, Sam Lipcon, wrote to his grandson about his grandfather, Jacob Lipkunsky. This letter explained that Jacob had been born in Eishishok, had come to the U.S. and that he was the patriarch of their family branch. Since you have to know where places are to do genealogy, I found and studied a map of the area. I also knew that Harriet's grandfather, Abraham Herz Lipkunsky, was born in the Polish town of Radun. My research told me that Radun was also the home of the very well known Rabbi, "the Chofetz Haim", whose real name was Rabbi Israel Meir Ha-Kohen (Kagan) and that the Chofetz Haim's Yeshiva was also in Radun. Radun and Eishishok were within a few kilometers of each other.
I also learned that the original home of the Lipkunsky family was the tiny village or dorf , Dugalishok. Dugalishok had ten houses in it and as was customary in those days, was assigned to and owned by the larger nearby town of Eishishok. Another nearby community from which Harriet's family arose in early days was the shtetl of Voronova, is now in Belarus
Those of you who have visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington will recall the open column passing between the floors with photographs attached to the inside walls of the column. The 1,700 photos attached to the walls of this column, all pictures of former inhabitants and scenes of Eishishok, were collected by Professor Eliach in her world wide research journeys. Her research continued for 17 years during which time she was collecting information for this book. These photos and many more, grace virtually every page of the book. Dr. Eliach came by her interest in photography naturally since her grandparents, the Sohnensohns, were the photographers in the town. When Eliach started her research, she had several sources. Some were Shoah survivors, some official archives but most of the pictures and data came from the people and the families of those who had emigrated from Eishishok early on.
Each of the book's photos, located in exactly the appropriate place in the book, not only identifies the people described in the writing but also reveals the fate of each of these people. Many of those pictured were murdered by the Nazi death squads in 1941 and later. Others were killed by the local armed Lithuanians and Poles, called by the Lithuanians, the A.K. , the Armija Kravia or the White Army. Many Jews were killed by these A. K members after the Holocaust was over, when they returned to their homes, simply because of their hatred of their Jewish neighbors.
Dr. Eliach is Professor of Jewish Studies at Brooklyn College. During the time I have been researching and collecting data about our family, I have had the opportunity to meet or talk to Dr. Eliach several times and for many reasons.
One of the connections I made with her relates to Rachel Kulick, widow of another of Harriet's cousin, Rabbi Herz Kulick. Rabbi Kulick was a student in the famous Mir Yeshiva whose Rabbi led the entire Yeshiva out of Mir in Poland to Lithuania and then with the help of the Japanese Consul in Kovno, from Lithuania to Japan and finally, to Shanghai where they survived the Shoah. Yaffa Sohnensohn escaped with her father from Lithuania to Israel on a different route.. While she was in Israel she was in elementary school with Rachel Kulick.
An even more important connection is that of another cousin with the same name as Harriet's grandfather, Abraham Lipkunsky. This cousin, now living in Tel Aviv, told me all about Dugalishok, the town where he was born. Although he was born Abraham Lipkunsky, when he arrived in Israel he "Hebrewized his name and became Abraham Aviel. Aviel's life was filled with momentous events. Almost all of his family was murdered, in circumstances similar to those of Eliach's. As a result, he is mentioned frequently in her book. Several years ago, Aviel wrote his own book. This book, in Hebrew, published in Israel by the Israeli Defense Forces (the IDF), is entitled A Community (Kfar) Named Dugalishok. The title makes it sound as if it were a Yizkor Book but it is, in fact, the story of the early days of Aviel's life in Dugalishok, until the Nazis destroyed his home and his family. Naturally, because many of the events are the same event or happened simultaneously to those of Eliach's book, they are mentioned in both books, so that we get different views of the same event. Many of Aviel's records and photographs, in addition to being used in his own book were contributed to Eliach for her book and acknowledged graciously by Eliach.
Another contributor to this volume is a friend who I met through genealogy. This friend, is Judy Baston, whose roots are in many of the same towns as Harriet, as well as the nearby shtetl, Bastuny. Her family had a large collection of photos and family letters copies of which Judy turned over to Dr. Eliach and which were also graciously acknowledged.
As a young student, Israel Meir Ha-Cohen (Kagan), later the Chofetz Chaim, attended the Eishishok Yeshiva. Many years later, after the Chofetz Chaim had established his own Synagogue in Radun, the Eisishok Yeshiva became less important in the light of the brilliance of the Chofetz Chaim Yeshivah While many students, the so called Yeshiva Bochurs, had families that could support them, many did not. It was considered imperative that bright young men be encouraged to attend Yeshiva. Therefore, the Yeshiva community sponsored these young students. Every family who could afford to do so, sponsored one or more students. They would take their meals at the sponsor's house, sometimes alternating between houses. This practice was called "essen tug" or eating day. Yaffa Eliach recalls Abraham Lipkunsky as one of the boys eating frequently at her parents house.
On the other hand, Abraham Lipkunsky, in his own book, mentions how humiliated he felt acting as a beggar, having to plead for tasteless food in stranger's houses. He also described how different the food was and how he missed his mother's wonderful cooking and how she catered to his tastes whenever he did go home. Sometimes the boys would sleep in the sponsors' houses but most of the time they slept on the floor or on the benches of the Yeshiva. It was a very hard life for them.
The first chapter of Eliach's book covers the history of Eishishok, Lithuania and the continuing relationship of Eishishok, Lithuania and Poland and in latter days, with Russia. This history continues until the beginning of the Holocaust which was the end of the Jewish Community. Before the Holocaust, the population of Eishishok was somewhat less than 10,000.
Community life in the shtetl of Eishishok revolved about the Synagogue or Shul. The Synagogue and its neighbor, the Beth Midrash, or the House of Study were the center of the shtetl. The Synagogue was usually the tallest building in the shtetl. In those communities where there was a Catholic Church, however, it was forbidden by Polish Law to have the Synagogue higher than the Church.
The first Synagogue in Eishishok was probably built between 1065 and 1171. There is written evidence of Jewish tombstones in the "Old Cemetery" dating 1097 CE. In accordance with Halakhah the Synagogue was built near a body of water, the river Virshuki. Later a second Beth Midrash was built, as was the Rabbi's house, the public bath (Bud), the Schochet's shack, the Homeless Shelter, a Well and two stone Supports for the Chuppah during weddings . In the mid 1830's one of Eishishok's prestigious families, the Yurkanskis, got into a petty dispute with the authorities and built a second Beth Midrash away from the Shulhoyf. In one day, the building was moved onto the Shulhoyf and they refused to move it out. All of these buildings were on a central piece of land, bare of trees, called the Shulhoyf. The second or New Beth Midrash never attained the recognition or prestige of the old one but it remained as one of the Holy Buildings on the Shulhoyf.
The beauty of the Synagogues in this area was due to the harsh suppression of the Jews in nearby Prussia and Austria. This oppression forced the Jews of these two areas with their commerce to move their businesses and families into this part of Lithuania. They used the wealth built from the their commercial abilities to invest in their places of worship.
Eishishok's original synagogue was built in a four pillared style with four wooden pillars holding up the roof. Centered between these four pillars was the raised Bimah or platform, on which was a magnificent carved wooden Holy Ark. The roof of the synagogue was in the three tiered Pagoda style, common in the region. The Bimah, the columns and the Ark were all of carved wood but the exterior walls were of massive stone with stained glass windows set high up in them. The Bimah was used as a pulpit by the Torah readers and by speakers at non-religious events. In the 14th Century when the Council of the Four Lands was established as the ruling body in Poland and Lithuania, all of the decisions and the laws of the Council were read to the people from the Bimah. When the status of the Council diminished in 1764, the official status of the Bimah changed and the Holy Ark became dominant in the Synagogue. However, the Bimah continued as the location of the place from which decisions of the Kahal, the elected leadership of the community were discussed and read.
In 1895, the entire town of Eishishok had a catastrophic fire and burned down including the Synagogue, the Beth Midrash, and with them,all of the Torahs and other Holy Books including the Pinkas. However, the extra Torah Covers and some religious items were saved because they were stored away from the Synagogue.
Support for the rebuilding of the Town came from former students, former inhabitants, nearby and foreign religious institutions. Funds were forthcoming to cover the rebuilding costs. The style of the Bimah changed. The Bimah in the new Synagogue no longer had four columns supporting the roof, which was now held up by heavy wooden beams and thick stone walls into which twelve stained glass windows had been cut. Additional light entered the Synagogue through a high skylight. The only heated area in the whole new Synagogue was the Shtible (small room) of the Chevrat Ha Mishnaot.
Within the Synagogue main entrance was an area called the Polesh. In the Polesh was a table with a sand box top called the Orla Tisch. Here the foreskins of the circumcised babies were kept prior to their owners' burial. Next to the Orla Tisch, was Elijah's Chair where the Sandok or Godfather of the 8 day old baby sat holding the baby during the B'rith.
Along the Eastern Wall, the Mizrach, ran an elaborately carved bench, seating for the communities most prominent citizens, called the Mizrach Jews. Other benches were placed back to back extending outward from the Central Bimah. The congregants had to shift in their seats to see, depending on whether the action was coming from the Ark or the Bimah. In each case, the more expensive seats were closest to the Bimah. In the Batei Midrash, the same seating provisions applied. In addition, your status in the Community determined whether you prayed in the Synagogue or the old or new Beth Midrash and with which Minyan.
To safeguard Eishishok's new Holy Ark from fire, it was placed in a niche carved in the stone wall. All of the new decorations were of plaster. The various Minyanim had different locations. Off the Polesh of the Old Beth Midrash were the Shtiblekh of the Shoemakers and the Psalm Reciters. The Polesh of the New Beth Midrash contained the Shtiblekh of the Tailors and the Mixed Minyan.
The Synagogue's social significance in the community stipulated that one's ranking in the Synagogue determined one's position in the community and vice versa. This did not mean that justice for the poor depended on social status but access to different levels of social activities depended on ones position.
To further understand what is occurring here, I would like to quote in abbreviated fashion from another book I own about the above mentioned Voronova:
"The Talmud Society:---Society members considered themselves superior to ordinary Jews... When one was privileged to be a member of the Talmud Society, he was like an aristocrat.... Many respected householders (baalebatim) and scholars belonged to the Talmud Society.....Every day they studied together and they completed the Talmud in three years.
The Mishnah Society: To this belonged artisans and Jews of virtuous character and high standards of morality. (Among these were;) the Tailor, the Carpenter, the Cobbler, the Blacksmith, (another) Carpenter, the Glazier, and the Coppersmith. This Society completed its study of the Mishnah every six months.
The Society to Study the Psalms consisted mainly of Porters, Day Workers, Cripples, and Paupers of all kinds in addition to some Craftsmen. Many of the Jews recited orally and from memory."
At the Bimah of the Old Beth Midrash, many secular community activities took place. One of the most important of these was the election to the Kahal or Community Council. Others were the many Leasing Auctions that affected the daily lives of the people of the community. Among these were the operation of the Public Bath or "Bud." Also auctioned were the grazing rights to the public fields owned by the community. These auctions usually went to the same families year after year but there were also hard arguments with the public about the rates they would pay for these services. The most popular Auction to attend was that of the Korobka or Kosher Meat Tax. The value of this auction was so high that only the most affluential of the Jews in their fur coats were able to submit bids. These taxes supporting the auction prices had to be added to the costs of these activities. The revenues from these taxes were the equivalent of our community taxes and they supported the salaries of officials and charitable activities.
An additional interesting activity that took place in the Beth Midrash was the exorcism of Dybbuks. The last exorcism in Eishishok took place just prior to WW I. The misplaced soul turned out to be a mouse who was living in the shoulder padding of an absent-minded melamed.
Herems were also conducted in the Beth Midrash and this activity still took place just after the turn of the century. All the community elders and members of the Kahal had to be gathered. A defense attorney was appointed and the evidence was considered carefully before the dreadful pronouncement was made. All efforts were made to convince the person to change his activities so as to remove the cause for the Herem before the Decree was made.
The Haskalah or Democratization of the traditional communities, as we have seen, began in Germany in the late 19th Century. However, this process moved slowly into Lithuania and arrived there only after WW I. Zionism, Socialism, and Secularization of Jewish Life and education were the early manifestations of this process. One of the first appearances of this process should interest our congregation. Some of the young men of the of the community suggested to the Kahal Leaders that there should be a kiddush for the entire congregation after Saturday morning prayers and that men and women should join in this activity together. Prior to this, one of the Charitable Societies hosted the post-services kiddush in the Polesh (vestibule) or the Women's Gallery but they invited only their own members and close friends. The new suggestion was not accepted by the Kahal but it illustrated the democratizing process.
As alternate social activities began to appear, the dominance of the Synagogue and the Kahal simultaneously lessened. Membership in Zionist organizations took its toll on Synagogue attendance. The community youth enjoyed lectures or informal gatherings for singing or dancing in the nearby forest. Saturday nights they attended coed parties in the Club Houses or private homes or in the fire house in the center of town. Soon it was only the older people or those too young to go their own way who bid farewell to the Shabbat at the Malevah Malkah celebrations at the Synagogue on Saturday nights.
One Traditional shtetl activity continued from ancient days right up til just prior to the Nazi invasion. This was called Ikuv Kriah or the Delaying of the Torah Reading. This process had been developed to bring serious problems to the attention of the community and to request redress from the community. Frequently, these problems had not even been caused in the community but by Polish authorities or by Polish Law. This process took place only when the main Synagogue was crowded on Shabbat or the Holidays. Before the Torah reading began, the Plaintiff would rap three times on the table and advise "I am delaying the reading of the Torah." He then described his complaint requesting Torah Justice. The Neeman (highest elected official) of the Synagogue would stand up and accept responsibility for the case on behalf of the Community. The Rabbi, The Neeman and other notables of the community would confer and agree to accept the case on behalf of the community. Then all of the notables would meet at the Eastern Wall and discuss the case and possible remedies that the community could provide. It often meant that the community would have to tax itself an additional amount in order to provide the remedy it offered. If the offer was acceptable to the Plaintiff, the Torah reading could continue. If not, the negotiations would have to be renewed until a satisfactory solution was reached.
As all Yizkor Books do, an important area of discussion was the history of the Rabbinat of Eishishok. Eliach mentioned all of the known Rabbis and Rebbitzins starting with Reb Moshe who came to the shtetle about 1760. All of the subsequent Rabbis and Rebbetzins were mentioned by name and their history was told. Always the Rebbitizin was an important person in the community. She usually was as learned in Torah as was her husband, because she was a daughter and a family member of an older well know Rabbinical family. Furthermore, since traditionally, the Rabbis salary was small she was expected to earn the family income. In order to to do this, a clause was written in the Rabbi's contract in which his wife was given a store in town in which she sold candles, , wine for the kiddush and Havdallah and kerosene and similar articles.
The Community Rabbis were not the only ordained Rabbis in the community. The Dayyans or Judges, the Chazzans or Cantors, and sometimes the Schochets or Ritual Slaughterers were also ordained Rabbis. From time to time, there were clashes between different Rabbis.
The most famous of the community Rabbis was Rabbi Yosef Zundel Hutner who reigned from 1896 until he died in 1916. Rabbi Zundel, as he was called, led the community through all kinds of perilous times, including attacks by Cossacks, injustices by Polish Courts and also the times during WW I when the shtetl was occupied by troops of Russia, Lithuania, the Soviets, the Germans and the Poles. To call those days chaotic was to oversimplify. Rabbi Hutner died in 1919. There was never a single Rabbi who dominated and unified the town like he did.
Subsequent Community Rabbis were pro-Zionist as was much of the shtetl. In next door Radun, The Chofetz Hayim, was completely anti-Zionist believing the Jews were not to go in large numbers to Palestine until the arrival of the Messiah. As a devout Rabbi, and a Kohen, he washed in the river every day and kept himself ritually pure so that when the Messiah returned to Jerusalem he would be ready to go. Until such return, he would oppose Political or Religious Zionism and was a founder of Agudat Israel, the Orthodoix anti--Zionist movement.
Rabbis were active in 1938 and 1939 when the Russians occupied the area but the Jewish religion and its Rabbis was not acceptable in the Russian scheme although the much more powerful Catholic Church was accepted and its priests honored. In 1939, Lithuania became an independent country and it included Eishishok. In addition, refugees from the Nazi invasion of Poland flooded into Lithuania, hoping to escape the Germans. It wasn't long before the Germans invaded Lithuania as well, dooming all of these refugees, many of whom were in Eishishok.
In our society today, our Rabbis are expected to give us interesting and exciting sermons every Sabbath. This was not the case in the shtetlach. In the Shtetlach there were two types of preaching Rabbis, the Stationary Maggidim and the Traveling or Intinerant Maggidim. These were the preachers who spoke at the Yeshivahs and Batei Midrash in Lithuania and Eishishok. Smaller shtetlach could not afford the stationary or town Maggidim . Their sermons included parables, fables, stories about the people they were preaching to. Some Maggidim preached Zionism, some Communism and some were just wonderful story tellers. In Eishishok, the Maggid would preach in the old Beth Midrash. In the beginning of his sermon, he would use the special heart rending special Maggid chant that would have the entire audience in tears just from the emotional tone of his chanting.
A specialty of these Maggidim was preaching at the funerals of prominent Rabbis or members of the community. Even though they had never met the deceased, they would have the entire audience sobbing from the intensity of the prayers. The traveling Maggid ceased to exist at the end of World War I.
Another function of Rabbis was that of Dayyan or Judge. In the Shtetl, all of the disputes were settled in its own courts. Halakhic matters were settled in a Beth Din, a Rabbinic Court of three Rabbis. In monetary matters, Jewish Courts adjudicated matters, which even handled matters for Polish litigants arguing against Jews, if they agreed. The Poles had great respect for these courts and usually did agree to these arrangements. These courts and their decisions were respected.
Elementary education in the shtetl took place in Cheders (Hadarim) or rooms in the homes of the teachers or Melamids. The earliest of these was the Aleph Beis where the youngsters were taught to read the Hebrew alphabet and basic skills in Hebrew. The second Cheder was where the Chumash or Bible was learned and the third was Gemara or Commentaries. If the parents were poor, the child would only complete one or two of these Cheders. When they were completed, the young man would move to the Yeshivah.
The Melamdim, although learned, were considered low on the social class. The First Cheder Melamid was the lowest of his group. All of them were poorly paid. The work was difficult and the only athletic activity acceptable for the students was swimming in the widest local point in the River Kantil. This activity was led by the Melamid who taught the boys to swim, since the Talmud requires a father to teach his son to swim.
Punishment for infractions or insufficient studying were frequent with the rod and leather strap or Kanchik. The Gemara permits punishment "with a small strap".
The Haskalah or National Awakening created a reformed Cheder in Eishishok and in all of Eastern Europe. The entire previous system of Hadarim was criticized for its narrowness, its lack of hygiene, its system of punishment, and its lack of preparation of the students for the real world.
The new Cheder was to be in a separate building. The students were to be dressed in unpatched, clean clothes and the class day was reduced from 12 to 8 hours with scheduled recesses. The language of instruction was changed from Yiddish to Hebrew and additional subjects were added. Jewish History, Russian language were added and Gemara was dropped. The Bible was taught as a continuing subject rather than the portion of the week and the teachers had to pass a Government exam in all the subjects. The teachers salaries were improved and the community had to support all of this. I have discussed the Yeshivoth in Lithuania before which were famous. Eishishok's most famous graduate was the Chofetz Haim who was the most saintly Rabbi in the Jewish world at that time. His first book, from which he took his name, discussed in detail the Lashon Hara or Evil or Bitter Tongue. In his book, he admonished not to repeat negative words or gossip about others.
Obviously, the coming of the Haskalah was not universally accepted among the traditional and was fought by the observant. Eventually, the activists were expelled from the Yeshivah. Many of these went on to prominent careers. There were even book and newspaper burnings by the observant in the Shulhoyf. However, there was support, both emotional and monetary by the Maskilim for all of the traditional activities in the shtetl all of their lives. Gradually, the increasing openess in the Society resulted in the emigration described at the beginning of this article. Instead of the arranged weddings that prevailed previously, boys and girls began to date - that is go for walks in the woods. From this many unarranged marriages resulted.
In October 1939, Radun became part of the Russian Republic of Byelorussia and Eishyshok part of Lithuania, as they are today.
Additional town group activities of this time discussed in Eliach's book are the Bath,-(the Bud,) Mutual Aid Societies, Relief Societies, Bikkur Holim, Ezrat Yoledet (Childbirth), and the Chevrah Keddishah or Burial Society.
Subsequent chapters cover all of the other life's activities in this shtetl, prior to and after the arrival of the Nazis. In September, 1941, the Nazis began their extermination of the Jewish inhabitants by slaughtering hundreds. Virtually every person murdered by the Nazis or by the A. K. is mentioned and most are pictured.
The book is 697 pages of history and also contains 48 pages of detailed chapter notes, a Bibliography of 26 pages, a Glossary of Yiddish, Hebrew, Lithuanian and Russian words and a 33 page Index. The book is undoubtedly the best and most complete description of Shtetl life in Lithuania that has been written, and it is in English. For anyone who would like to learn more about what his ancestors daily life was about, I recommend the book very highly.
Yaffa Eliach is very much obsessed with her town. Her most recent project is the building of a complete re-creation of the Shtetl Eishyshok in the town of Rishon LeZion in Israel, as a popular tourist attraction. Dr. Eliach is looking for contributions of millions of dollars to finance the building of her childhood home. I have her phone number if anyone wants to call her to make a contribution.
Several months ago a TV program appeared which some of you have seen about a return visit by Dr. Eliach and a group of former residents. We have a copy of this tape which we have available if anybody is interested in seeing it.
February 28, 2001