This week's Yizkor book excerpt on the JewishGen Facebook page #poland #lithuania #yizkorbooks

Bruce Drake

A fixture of the Jewish shtetl was the shabbos goy on whom people relied to perform tasks that were prohibited by Jewish religious law on the Sabbath.
A section from the Yizkor book of Zgierz in Poland profiles Wawzyn, the Shabbos goy in that town: “Everyone, young and old, knew Wawzyn, who used to walk around barefoot, with a strip around his pants, which drooped a bit lower than his belt. By nature, he was a very good gentile. He spoke Yiddish like any Jew in town, and was involved in all Jewish matters. He knew all the laws. Were it not for his gentile traits, such as shaving his folksy, yellow, constantly growing beard, sipping the “four cups” ten times a day, and various other trivialities, he could be a considered a perfect Jew.”
In the book of Rokiskis, Lithuania there is Tzimtzerevises who could not always be relied on. “His peasant blood would draw him to his village and, during the summer, his soul would long for green grass, for birds and for summer nights, and in winter days he longed for a little dance and a flirtation with a full-bosomed village shiksa” and on some Friday nights, it was necessary to run to faraway neighbors to catch the Shabbos goy from the next street.

Bruce Drake
Silver Spring, MD

Towns: Wojnilow, Kovel