Belarus SIG #Belarus Litvaks & Mir #belarus

Zalman Lachman, C.S.W. <zalman@...>

Hi Ellen,

Litvaks are Jews >from 'Litte' (last sylable pronounced eh) which translates
as Lithuania, but it would be a mistake to look at today's map of tiny
Lithiuania, resurrected after WWI to determine the boundaries. Medieval
Lithuania was a large kingdom that rivaled Russia and Poland in size and
power. Much of the area covered by todays Baltic states, Belarus, Eastern
Poland and some of Russia was Lithuania.

Don't forget that because Jews could not be citizens of most countries until
after Napoleonic times, they rarely self-designated by the name of the
country they happened to live in, but rather as 'cultural' communities that
held similar 'minhagim' or customs.

ALthough there may have been Chassidim who lived there, Mir was solidly
"Litvak" and one of the great "Litvish" yeshivas was in Mir >from the
mid-1800s. The Mirrer Yeshiva is well-known today, because unlike most Jews
of the area, they were able to escape together through Russia and spent WWII
in Shanghai, later immigrating to the US and Israel. Many may be familiar
with the story of Sugihara the righteous Japanese consul who saved 10,000
Jews, many >from Mir. See
for details of this fascinating story.

Today, the Mirrer Yeshiva still exists by name in Brooklyn and Jerusalem (my
son-in-law attended the Mirrer Yeshiva in Jerusalem).

Reeva Kimble has a site with a list of books that refer to life in Mir and
old photos at

Oh, and finally, my step-kids are ROSENs but I was told that the original
name was ROZANSKY so you may want to get in touch ;-)

Good luck in your search.

New Hempsead NY

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