This week's Yizkor book excerpt on the JewishGen Facebook page #ukraine #yizkorbooks
If you lived in one of the shtetls and got sick, there’s a good chance that you would call on the town’s royfe. The royfe filled the gap left by full-fledged doctors, who were not numerous in the small towns of eastern Europe (and more than most could afford). Unlike a doctor who went through rigorous education and training to earn a medical license, the many royfes never even went to elementary school and their profession was hereditary, handed down from grandfather to father to son. The rich went to the official doctor if there was one; the less-fortunate depended on the royfe.
The Hebrew term “royfe” is equal to a “barber–surgeon: someone who could perform surgical procedures including bloodletting, cupping therapy, teeth–pulling, and bone–setting.” And that describes Moyshele, the royfe of Zinkov (Ukraine) whose “practice” is the subject of a section of the town’s Yizkor book titled “Zinkov Folklore.”
Moyshele was a “three-in-one”: a royfe, a barber and a pharmacist. And there’s a delightful passage in this excerpt describing him in his barbershop, juggling all three tasks.
Silver Spring, MD
Researching: DRACH, EBERT, KIMMEL, ZLOTNICK
Towns: Wojnilow, Kovel