The Tale of the Rabbi's Wife #belarus

David Frey <dfrey@...>

In the tale of the "Trip to Beshincovichi" in the Belarus Online
Newsletter, Issue No. 3 - May 1999:

written by yours truly, I humbly suggested that the purpose of my
trip was to find some evidence that the family tale of Rabbi Avram
Isroel Gildenson was in some sense true. Upon finding the "lost"
cemetery of the town it became apparent that at least certain facts
were true. There was such a town. Some of the gravestones suggested
that members of my current family were named after their parents or

However since the gravestones contained only references such as Rifka,
daughter of Rev. Mendel and some dates, actual verification would be

One of the central components of the story of the Rabbi was that he
was married twice and his second wife was married three times. All we
knew of this prolific woman was that her first husband had the last
name of Steinhart by whom she bore a daughter named Elka Leah, the
second husband's name has been lost to history and the third was
named Gildenson, The Rabbi of the town, and possibly a student of
Menachem Mendal of Vitebsk.

But even though I found the cemetery, I found not one shred of direct
evidence that the family tale was true. The story passed on by my
Grandmother, Beila, and told to me by my mother was that the woman at
the centre of this saga was named Frumma Chana, and that she owned
and ran a grocery store.

Tonight, this very night I looked through:

"The Vsia Rossiia translation team for the 1911 Vitebsk data:
Roberta Solit supplied the paper copies of Vsia Rossiia used
in the translation. The data was translated by Tom Gartman,
Vitaly Charney edited the data and supplied the list of

And to my amazement I did a search on Gildensohn and came up with:

Given: Khava Mord.
Occupation: Grocery
Year: 1911
Column #: 407
Town: Beshenkovichi
Uyezd: Lepel
Gubernia: Vitebsk

So here it was, the first actual proof that someone name Khava
Gildenson, grocery store owner, actually existed. >from Frumme Chana
to Khava, daughter of Mordichi, is not such a big leap. Perhaps the
Mordichi that my uncle Morris the Doctor was named after, and
probably the Mother of Elka Leah, named after the first wife of the

And just make the story complete, my lately departed Mother's name
was Elka Leah. I was with her for five years as she slowly died of

And so while the details of the story are not complete, as they never
are, the G-d of my people, the G-d who I prayed to, while standing in
front of that overgrown cemetery, G-d granted me a pearl to wear in
my heart, as long as it lasts, and to pass on to my sons when it
finally gives out.

Baruch Ha Shem

David Frey

Join to automatically receive all group messages.