This week's Yizkor book excerpt on the JewishGen Facebook page #belarus #yizkorbooks #JewishGenUpdates


Bruce Drake
 

How did Jews earn a living in their towns in the years before World War I? That’s the question that’s asked — and then answered — in this section from a chapter from the Yizkor book of Drohitchin in Belarus. What makes this excerpt so readable is that is more than just a laundry list of occupations but a description of life that makes you feel you are there. The fairs and market days, with the hurly-burly of selling and buying, were a big part of making a living, and the writer notes wryly, “You could never even find such an assortment of merchandise and bargains in Woolworth's stores.”
 
Bakers and tavern-keepers particularly did well too, thanks to the peasants who came to town in a holiday mood. But some of them didn’t hold on to their earnings for very long. “It was easy for them to drink down a bottle of whisky all at once. By the time a peasant drank half a bottle, he had already forgotten how much it cost him, and often returned home to the village with empty pockets, after having drunk the value of a horse or other animal.”
 
 

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Bruce Drake
Silver Spring, MD

Researching: DRACH, EBERT, KIMMEL, ZLOTNICK
Towns: Wojnilow, Kovel

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