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

Bruce Drake

Just like most towns had their “royfes” —barber surgeons with no formal education who cared for people when there was no doctor, or one a person could afford — they had their “bobbes” who were the midwives families depended on to bring their children into the world. The profession of bobbes was an inherited one just as was the case with the royfes.
“Two Bobbes” from the Yizkor book of Horodets (Belarus) is the story of Bobbe Mindl and Bobbe Chaya-Zlate. For decades, Bobbe Mindl delivered children of Jewish mothers, and almost the whole shtetl were her “Children”. She did not wait for them to get sick: when scarlet fever was raging, she would bring a red band or sew garlic in a sack and put it around the child's neck. When the town’s old Rabbi passed away, she brought her “children” pieces from the Rabbi's shrouds as a charm for long life (he was almost 100 years old when he passed away).
For Chaya-Zlate, her profession as midwife was a sideline income, while her chief income was drawn from teaching. Bobbe Mindl was the more popular choice, but many wives preferred Chaya-Zlate because when they were in labor, she used to tell jokes and humoristic episodes, and though the wife was in great pain, she would still laugh through them.

Bruce Drake
Silver Spring, MD

Towns: Wojnilow, Kovel

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