Topics

Jews employed by the Czars #russia


Deanna Levinsky
 

I've recently seen several references (on JewishGen) to Jews employed by the Czar. Considering the general distain Russians exhibited (and still exhibit) towards Jewish people, was this a reality?
--
Deanna M. Levinsky, Long Island, NY


segslusky@...
 

Yes, my son in law’s family (GERSHKOVITZ Kerch, Crimea) has a story that their ancestor designed a bathtub for the czar’s railroad car that reduced water sloshing out. But this sounds so unlikely 

Susan Slusky, Highland Park, NJ

GRABER, HUF, MYSZKET, BARK Lublin Province
VOROBEY, PODMAZO Minsk Province and near Kovno
HERSCHER, KRAMER Galicia/Russian border


Kenneth Ryesky
 

Deanna, I wondered about that.
 
Family lore has it that my g-g-g-gm's family made hats for the Czar.
 
-- Ken Ryesky
Petach Tikva, ISRAEL
 

--
Ken Ryesky,  Petach Tikva, Israel     kenneth.ryesky@...


@murfisto
 

My maternal grandfather was employed by Czar Nickolas as a beaurocrat in his village of Yurovichi in Belarus with responsibilities including postmaster and director of official documents and his family owned the means of moving cargo and passengers within his geographical area. He was able to permit HIMSELF to leave his home in 1914 to travel to a nearby city large enough to have a teaching program to make him a shochet and a butcher in order to bring a useful skill in his emigration to America. He returned home 4 years later to bring his immediate family to New Jersey where he had established himself with a house for them. There are many interesting tales of what occurred during those 4 years but those will only be told on demand.
Murray Stollman, St Pete Beach, FL


Laurence Posner
 

My wife’s grandfather from Latvia told the family that he had been a watch repairer in the Czar’s army. He continued that trade in America. He also said Russian soldiers taught him to fish and hunt which he also did. I can’t vouch for the truth of this though one cousin is said to have some type of certificate attesting to his service in the Czar’s army. That’s the family lore.

Larry Posner, Salem MA
researching LISAK, TUREK, RESNICK, GURNEY, POZNANSKY
Laurence Posner


Roni Keini
 

My grandfather was employed - though not voluntarily - by the czar´s (Alexander III?) army like many other Russian Jews. Finished then his service late 1800´ within the borders of then the Grand Duchy of Finland and was given the right to settle where the service ended.

Roni Keini, Helsinki, Finland


luc.radu@...
 

I take that by "employed by the Czar" you mean  DIRECTLY employed. There are such cases but all those Jews were practicing the Russian Orthodox faith.

Luc Radu
Great Neck, NY


David Barrett
 

Interesting
Last week we were informed that he had a Jewish dentist [ Shneyer]  and I grew up with a story from my mother that the family in Berdichev, Ukraine had a relative who was in the Czars retinue On line I have come into contact with ? a DNA relative Scott Schwarzberg  [ my heritage] who informed me that a since deceased relation was the Czars treasurer - so I  assumed maybe  this was the person of whom my mother was referring to. However another of my my DNA connections also relates to a family SCHNIER so maybe it was the dentist!   
However according to Google --Sergei Kostritsky was his dentist but no DNA correlation
  Who knows ? If only we could find a definitive list of those who worked for the Czar.

I would be grateful for any further info
David Barrett


YaleZuss@...
 

One of my ancestral families has a narrative that its surname was created for them as part of a reward for a great service a remote ancestor did for the tsarina.  Apparently, she took ill while traveling in his area of Lithuania, he took her in, got a doctor, and cared for her.
 
The reward included rights to a forest's lumber, and I have confirmation from many cousins that these ancestors ran a lumber mill.  I spoke with a direct descendant of the individual who did this deed (my ancestor appears to have been a brother) and she described the house where she grew up, a structure that would be a mansion even today.  Some cousins have visited the site of the sawmill, which is now nothing more than a bend in a road.  
 
There is disagreement on when this event took place -- not a good sign for its authenticity -- with the two candidates c.1810 and c.1840; different individuals with the given name from the narrative would have been the right age at these times. 
 
If there is any paperwork confirming it, it hasn't turned up.  I'm not even sure what to look for or where to look.  The significance of such a document is that it would presumably include the surname this family used before the new one was created for them, and is thus the key to connecting further back than I already have, to c.1800.  Any ideas?
 
Yale Zussman


Jules Levin
 

The story in general can be true.  There is no doubt that a personal
contact by a Jew with nobility could yield rewards.  For example, the
sculptor Antakolsky (he did the iconic statue of Peter the Great in the
Hermitage) was in an art class in Kovno when a princess visited and saw
his work.  Since he would not convert, he became the first unbaptized
Jew admitted to the Royal Academy in St. Petersburg, thanks to the
princess's patronage. Another example is personal.  My greatgrandfather
had a military supply store (!) on Kronshtadt. a restricted naval base,
selling authorized supplies:  uniforms, accouterments including swords
and daggers, etc.  (I know it from his ads in the Kronshtatskij Vestnik,
not from family legends.)  He owned a second store in Viipuri (Vyburg). 
They were rich--all the children were educated by tutors.  It is
impossible that he had all that without noble patronage.     On the
other hand, where are the details?  Some of the questions could be
settled by Russian historians.  The names and ages of all princesses in
1810 or in 1840 are a matter of public record.  Perhaps also are their
travel itineraries.  It may be significant that all 3 cases--yours and
the 2 I cited--involve Litvaks.  I also know that all the Jews selling
luxury goods to the Imperial Guards stationed on Tsarskoe Selo (the
shops were directly opposite the Summer Palace) were Litvaks.  If you
narrow down the story by working the Russian end, it might be easier to
find what you want in the Jewish records.

Jules Levin


On 10/14/2020 7:51 AM, YaleZuss via groups.jewishgen.org wrote:
One of my ancestral families has a narrative that its surname was
created for them as part of a reward for a great service a remote
ancestor did for the tsarina.  Apparently, she took ill while
traveling in his area of Lithuania, he took her in, got a doctor, and
cared for her.
The reward included rights to a forest's lumber, and I have
confirmation from many cousins that these ancestors ran a lumber
mill.  I spoke with a direct descendant of the individual who did this
deed (my ancestor appears to have been a brother) and she described
the house where she grew up, a structure that would be a mansion even
today.  Some cousins have visited the site of the sawmill, which is
now nothing more than a bend in a road.
There is disagreement on when this event took place -- not a good sign
for its authenticity -- with the two candidates c.1810 and c.1840;
different individuals with the given name from the narrative would
have been the right age at these times.
If there is any paperwork confirming it, it hasn't turned up.  I'm not
even sure what to look for or where to look.  The significance of such
a document is that it would presumably include the surname this family
used before the new one was created for them, and is thus the key to
connecting further back than I already have, to c.1800. Any ideas?
Yale Zussman


Michele Lock
 

My great grandfather Orel Leybman made boots for the Czar's calvary officers - as a lowly paid, poorly treated army conscript (oral history of my grandfather). I have no illusions about the reality of his time in Lithuania, in contact with anything related to the Czarist government.
My other great grandfather Chaim Lak ran a dairy farm outside of Gruzdziai, in the far north of Lithuania. Jews were not allowed to own farmland, so he most likely leased the land from a noble person, who owned huge amounts of land. I have found 1848 tax records on Jewishgen for nearby Joniskis, which list Jewish farmers who leased land from the Noblewomen Narishkina, or the Nobleman Komar. These Litvak Jews did not have direct contact with these noble persons - they would have dealt with estate managers. Just like tenant farmers in England during the same period in the 1800s - they didn't have personal relationships with the nearby count or duke or prince - they dealt with estate managers. Why would it be any different in Lithuania?
On leasing land to harvest lumber or run a sawmill - a common occupation for Jews in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which continued into Russian times. Again, the land owned by noble persons or Polish princes, the leasing done through estate managers, who sometimes were Jews, sometimes not. This is well detailed in the book "Money, Power and Influence in Eighteenth Century Lithuania", by the economic historian Adam Teller. Very worth reading to understand the limited economic roles that Jews had during this time period. 
And last - a friend of mine, whose family hails from tiny Dorohynka in Ukraine, told me with complete seriousness that her great grandfather was a musician - and he played for the Czar! Who knew that the Czar liked Klezmer music, and he'd travel all the way from Saint Petersburg to Ukraine to enjoy it.

 

Michele Lock

Alexandria, VA


btkerman@...
 

The talltale in my family is that an ancestor tutored the Czar's  daughter. In truth it was probably a local gentile nobleman and that's most likely the case in other stories of Jewish interaction with the Czar. Of course stories where the Jew was employed for something  of low social standing are easier to believe.
Some hints as to whether there is any truth behind the story can be found if the family lived in an area that was otherwise exclusive to gentiles or if they seem to have been of higher class and wealth than other Jews. But some stories are totally made up.

Binyamin Kerman
Baltimore MD


Jules Levin
 

There are two separate issues here:  1.  Treatment of Jews in the Army
from Alexander II on (I am not talking about the period from Nicholas I
until Alexander II.  Traditionally all conscripts--that is to say, ALL
eligible untitled men in Russia/USSR-- were and are treated badly. 
Privates in the US Army were also forced to polish boots and perhaps
some complained about it later to their children.  (By the way, look at
all the photos of proud young Jewish boys in uniform in the Jewishgen
submitted photos)  In fact my great grandfather (a different one) was a
harness-maker in the Army, a craft which put him in what passed for
middle-class life in the 19th Century.  Jews benefited from army
service, since those that completed service and honorably discharged
were allowed to keep their weapons and could live where they were
discharged, often with minor service appts in their villages, such as
postmaster.  These armed Jews defended shtetles from pogromists, and
were in the first yishuv, defending the pioneers from Arab marauders. 
2.  Jews who provided personal services to the nobility of course could
have direct contact.  Nicholas II's wife Aleksandria the Tsarina
purchased her jewels from a Jewish jeweler.  Providing service to the
upper classes has always provided upward mobility, here in the USA, and
in Tsarist Russia.

Jules Levin


On 10/14/2020 11:05 AM, Michele Lock wrote:

My great grandfather Orel Leybman made boots for the Czar's calvary
officers - as a lowly paid, poorly treated army conscript (oral
history of my grandfather). I have no illusions about the reality of
his time in Lithuania, in contact with anything related to the Czarist
government.
My other great grandfather Chaim Lak ran a dairy farm outside of
Gruzdziai, in the far north of Lithuania. Jews were not allowed to own
farmland, so he most likely leased the land from a noble person, who
owned huge amounts of land. I have found 1848 tax records on Jewishgen
for nearby Joniskis, which list Jewish farmers who leased land from
the Noblewomen Narishkina, or the Nobleman Komar. These Litvak Jews
did not have direct contact with these noble persons - they would have
dealt with estate managers. Just like tenant farmers in England during
the same period in the 1800s - they didn't have personal relationships
with the nearby count or duke or prince - they dealt with estate
managers. Why would it be any different in Lithuania?
On leasing land to harvest lumber or run a sawmill - a common
occupation for Jews in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which
continued into Russian times. Again, the land owned by noble persons
or Polish princes, the leasing done through estate managers, who
sometimes were Jews, sometimes not. This is well detailed in the book
"Money, Power and Influence in Eighteenth Century Lithuania", by the
economic historian Adam Teller. Very worth reading to understand the
limited economic roles that Jews had during this time period.
And last - a friend of mine, whose family hails from tiny Dorohynka in
Ukraine, told me with complete seriousness that her great grandfather
was a musician - and he played for the Czar! Who knew that the Czar
liked Klezmer music, and he'd travel all the way from Saint Petersburg
to Ukraine to enjoy it.

Michele Lock

Alexandria, VA


Jules Levin
 

Living outside the Pale is post facto.  How they got there is the
interesting question.  They needed the wealth first.

Jules Levin


On 10/14/2020 11:14 AM, btkerman via groups.jewishgen.org wrote:
The talltale in my family is that an ancestor tutored the Czar's
daughter. In truth it was probably a local gentile nobleman and that's
most likely the case in other stories of Jewish interaction with the
Czar. Of course stories where the Jew was employed for something  of
low social standing are easier to believe.
Some hints as to whether there is any truth behind the story can be
found if the family lived in an area that was otherwise exclusive to
gentiles or if they seem to have been of higher class and wealth than
other Jews. But some stories are totally made up.

Binyamin Kerman
Baltimore MD


Jules Levin
 

There are several books on Jews' services to tsars.  By the way, Stalin
also had a Jewish dentist

Jules Levin


On 10/14/2020 7:23 AM, David Barrett wrote:
Interesting
Last week we were informed that he had a Jewish *dentist* [
/Shneyer/]  and I grew up with a story from my mother that the family
in Berdichev, Ukraine had a relative who was in the Czars retinue On
line I have come into contact with ? a DNA relative Scott Schwarzberg 
[ my heritage] who informed me that a since deceased relation was the
Czars *treasurer* - so I  assumed maybe  this was the person of whom
my mother was referring to. However another of my my DNA connections
also relates to a family /SCHNIER/ so maybe it was the dentist!
However according to Google --Sergei Kostritsky was his dentist but no
DNA correlation
  Who knows ? If only we could find a definitive list of those who
worked for the Czar.

I would be grateful for any further info
David Barrett


Jules Levin
 

Depends when they served.  By the 1870s it was possible to provide
services to nobility without conversion, although they may have been
invited to convert.  They needed the courage to say no, then they were
hired anyway...

Jules Levin


On 10/14/2020 7:14 AM, luc.radu via groups.jewishgen.org wrote:
I take that by "employed by the Czar" you mean  DIRECTLY employed.
There are such cases but all those Jews were practicing the Russian
Orthodox faith.

Luc Radu
Great Neck, NY


Jules Levin
 

Every discharged soldier received discharge papers that specified what
he did in the army.  That would be his certificate.  Too bad he didn't
keep it.

Jules Levin


On 10/14/2020 6:03 AM, Laurence Posner wrote:
My wife’s grandfather from Latvia told the family that he had been a
watch repairer in the Czar’s army. He continued that trade in America.
He also said Russian soldiers taught him to fish and hunt which he
also did. I can’t vouch for the truth of this though one cousin is
said to have some type of certificate attesting to his service in the
Czar’s army. That’s the family lore.

Larry Posner, Salem MA
researching LISAK, TUREK, RESNICK, GURNEY, POZNANSKY
Laurence Posner


Jules Levin
 

This is a good example of what often happened when a soldier was
honorably discharged.  But I am sure the tsar did not personally perform
what was a common administrative process.  (Did a tsar personally hire
an individual to run the post office in a village in Lithuania?) My
uncle was wounded on the Western Front just before the Armistice, and I
think he held Woodrow Wilson personally responsible.  If you asked him
if Wilson sent him to a useless war in France, he would have agreed.

Jules Levin


On 10/14/2020 5:44 AM, mur33706 via groups.jewishgen.org wrote:
My maternal grandfather was employed by Czar Nickolas as a beaurocrat
in his village of Yurovichi in Belarus with responsibilities including
postmaster and director of official documents and his family owned the
means of moving cargo and passengers within his geographical area. He
was able to permit HIMSELF to leave his home in 1914 to travel to a
nearby city large enough to have a teaching program to make him a
shochet and a butcher in order to bring a useful skill in his
emigration to America. He returned home 4 years later to bring his
immediate family to New Jersey where he had established himself with a
house for them. There are many interesting tales of what occurred
during those 4 years but those will only be told on demand.
Murray Stollman, St Pete Beach, FL


Jules Levin
 

It seems inprobable, but then a real Jew, Baron Ginsburg, built the

whole transSiberian railroad, so why not a bathtub?

(By the way, Ginsburg did not convert, and did speak to the Tsar.)

Jules Levin


On 10/14/2020 4:52 AM, segslusky via groups.jewishgen.org wrote:

Yes, my son in law’s family (GERSHKOVITZ Kerch, Crimea) has a story
that their ancestor designed a bathtub for the czar’s railroad car
that reduced water sloshing out. But this sounds so unlikely

Susan Slusky, Highland Park, NJ

GRABER, HUF, MYSZKET, BARK Lublin Province
VOROBEY, PODMAZO Minsk Province and near Kovno
HERSCHER, KRAMER Galicia/Russian border


sojacobs@...
 

I was told by my father, Leon Schiller, who was born in Chernigov, Ukraine  In 1906, that his father, Aryeh Nikrityn, was a tailor for the Czar.  I have no verification of this and sadly have found no details about this gentleman beyond a marriage record for him and my grandmother, Etlya Naishuler, who emigrated to the U.S. with my father and his brother in 1913.
Joan Jacobson, Overland Park, Kansas