Belarus SIG #Belarus Re: Smolensk (belarus digest: August 08, 2004) #belarus


In a message dated 8/9/04 Alezandra Alznauer (petealznauer@...)

Can anyone explain to me why Smolensk is listed in the Shtetls of
Belarus list although it actually appears to have been outside of The
Pale of Settlement on the maps I've seen? It is now in Russia, of
course, and I am trying to track down a Belarussian Jewish HOSENPUD
(GOSENPUD) family that came >from Smolensk.

I have also heard that Jews did not actually live in Smolensk but rather
outside it in shtetls. Is this true? Where might I find out the names
of these shtetls?

How does one go about researching one's ancestors in present-day Russia?
Are they any particular books I should read or sites I should visit?>>

The moderator rightly urged that people trying to find their ancestral
places and where they were located should consult Jewishgen's Shtetl Seeker. This
resource is useful for those who lack paper maps and atlases and who cannot
readily visit a library or bookstoroe to look at maps and atlases. Names of th
e shtetls or towns within the Smolensk oblast can be found by finding the
map coordinates for the city of Smolensk, then clicking on the map for Smolensk
and using the map's "zoom out" function.

In response to Ms. Alznauer Larry Guam was also helpful in his respone to
Ms. Alznauer although I think he may have erred in suggesting that in 1891
residents of Smolensk" may have been among those forced to live in the Pale. (As
was widely reported and reacted to with internation outcry, in 1891 many lower
class and some middle class Jews were expelled >from Moscow which but I am not
sure whether Smolensk Jews were also expelled >from Smolensk in 1891.)

Ms. Alznauer may want to read Professor Michael Hickey's online article on
the "Legal Status of the Jews of Smolensk," for which he did research in the
State Archives of Smolensk during June, 2004. She can find this article at:

Hickey has written several other articles on Smolensk Jews which are publis
hed in various scholarly reviews. At Hickey's website, she can find his email
address and ask him whether Jews were expelled >from Smolensk in 1891.

Ms Alznauer should also read the Encyclopedia Judaica article on the history
of the Jews of Smolensk at:

Also, at:


there is an article about Note (Nathan) Notkin, an army contractor and
financier and one of the relatively few Jews permitted to live permanently in St.
Petersburg. In the early part of the 19th century he dared to contest the
Tsar's plans to expel the Jews >from Kovno and Smolensk and through his tireless
intervention, succeeded in preventing these expulsions by getting the imperial
decree remedied in favor of the Jews.

(Throughout the nineteenth century it sometimes happened that provincial
governors petitioned for the return of Jews to their respective jurisdictions,
After some time had elapsed, the governors or mayors and their gentile
residents soon regretfully realized how important Jews had been to their economy.)


there is an Encyclopedia Judaica article about Smolensk. It does not mention
an 1891 expulsion.

Also of interest to Ms. Alznauer is Edward Victor's redaction of an
Encyclopedia Judaica article on Smolensk. On his website at:

she can view a picture of the great synagogue of Smolensk city.


there is a list of the administrative districts of the Smolensk oblast. If
Ms. Alznauer's ancestors did not live in the city of Smolensk, then her
ancestral town may have been located in one of the listed districts.

It is true, however, that many people claimed they came >from this or that
city, when actually they came >from some place near that city. I still do know
know whether my paternal grandfather was born in the city of Pinsk, as he
stated on his naturalization papers, or whether he was born in some shtetl near
that city.

It is difficult to find a good researcher abroad and expensive to hire
one. But I have read that the Mormons (Latter Day Saints) recently have been
busy photographing and microfilming hitherto unknown records in the Ukraine and
Russia so maybe someday we will be able to find our ancestors' old records on
LDS microfilms.

Naomi Fatouros (nee FELDMAN)
Bloomington, Indiana
BELKOWSKY,BIELKOWSKY, BILKOWSKI, Odessa,St. Petersburg,Berdichev,
Kiev;ROTHSTEIN, Kremenchug;FRASCH,Kiev;LIBERMAN,Moscow;FELDMAN, Pinsk;
SCHUTZ, RETTIG, WAHL, Shcherets;LEVY, WEIL, Mulhouse; SAS/SASS,Podwolochisk;
RAPOPORT, Tarnopol, Podwolochisk, RADOMYSL?; BEHAM, Salok, Kharkov;

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