Illiterate Witnesses? #poland


I received the following message?

"I have seen such OOO many times but never thought about the Jews not
wanting to use a X. Interesting information. In many cases these OOO seem
to be used when the scribe meant the Jew was illiterate - which it then
turns out >from other records that he was not, because earlier or later
records show his signature in Yiddish."

Two days ago, while looking at the films of Drobin, I found several of those
3 circles in front of the person's written name where the signatures should
be. As it was hard for me to believe that any male Jews could have been
illiterate, I looked at it more closely. The handwriting of the two names
with the 3 circles before them, was the same as the handwriting in the
record itself, thus written by the same person. Instead of indicating that
the two witnesses were illiterate, it is more probable that the 3 circles
indicate that the two witnesses were not available at the time to sign their
names, and that the record was being signed by a proxy. I later saw their
signatures appear on other records without the o's indicating that they
were indeed literate.

Although the record states that the witnesses appeared, perhaps they
appeared to witness the birth or death, but were not there at the time the
record was written.

Of course, there may have been Jewish males who had learning problems, or
were emotionally challenged, but they probably would not have been
acceptable as witnesses.

If anyone has contradictory evidence, please let me know.

Does anyone know anything about the rate of literacy among Jewish females?
I have noticed that whenever there was a midwife who appeared in the birth
record, she always signed her name. And sometimes brides signed their

Madeleine Okladek
New York City

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