This week's Yizkor book excerpt on the JewishGen Facebook page #YizkorBooks #JewishGenNews

Bruce Drake

You’re living in a small shtetl in Belarus, or anywhere else in the
Pale, and you get sick. Or have a toothache. Or get something in your
eye. You need a doctor. A dentist. A pharmacy to duck into and get
some eye wash.

But in many towns, there was no doctor, or dentist or pharmacy. The
“doctor” in town had never studied medicine and, in “Folk Medicine”
from the Yizkor book of Horodetz (Gorodets) Belarus, the author’s
father became a widely-known healer pretty much by accident. The
“dentist” was Asher Dovid, the town’s ritual slaughterer, whose
technique was to talk away the toothache. (You could also put garlic
on the hurting tooth or “or wear the left shoe on the right foot
against Jewish customs). If there was no pharmacy to get some eye wash
for the bit of sand in your eye, there was always Yitzhak Aharon who
“was an expert in licking an eye.” There were also midwives, exorcists
and specialists in casting spells to deal with different ailments.

And so, “This is how Jews lived, became sick, recovered and died in Horodets.”


Bruce Drake
Silver Spring MD

Towns: Wojnilow, Kovel