Hgeocities.com/candlemaker_kaprov/chapter01.htmlgeocities.com/candlemaker_kaprov/chapter01.htmldelayedxzJ OKtext/htmlP b.HSun, 24 Aug 2008 16:00:54 GMTMozilla/4.5 (compatible; HTTrack 3.0x; Windows 98)en, *zJ The B'nai Khaim in America
Chapter 1 Sokolivka- Yustingrad

    In the early 1800's two dwellings stood on "this side" of a 
bridge which connected the Ukrainian village of Sokolovka 
south and east with open fields north and west. One of these 
dwellings was a hostelry: the other was occupied by the candlemaker 
family, Kaprov. (1) A son of this family was the progenitor of 
the B'nai Khaim of this book. 
    The bridge also connected two counties in the province of 
Kiev. Sokolovka lay in County Uman; the hostelry and the 
candlemaker's home lay in County Lipovetz. The city of Uman 
lies almost on a straight line, except for a slight dent westward, 
between Kiev, 120 miles to the north, and Odessa 163 miles to 
the south. Lipovetz lies some 60 miles due west, and Sokolovka, 
some 20 miles due north of Uman. (See map) 
    The bridge, if 60-year-old memories may be trusted, (2) was a
quarter of a mile or so long. It was a brushwood, dirt-impacted 
dam built to form a lake from the flow of a stream that passed 
through the village of Popovka some two miles to the south-west. 
At the Sokolovka end of the bridge a sluice channeled the 
flow over the water-wheels of a flour mill. In the middle of the 
bridge a larger sluice. about 30 feet wide, cleared the overflow 
of the lake in a waterfall 20 feet or so high, a delight for 
summer bathers. The fall splashed onto a wooden platform 
some 30 feet square. From here it slithered down three or four 
feet into a treacherous ravine. A couple of hundred yards ahead 
of the platform the flow disappeared, between two rows of 
birch trees, into an old channel toward the village of Konella 
about three miles north. A few peasant huts hugged the northward 
stream and disappearcd from view with it. The lake was a 
bowl, shaped in the form of an open oyster shell. It was narrowest 
at the bridge and widest on the east-west stretch a mile or so 
away. A small, tree-covered island at the southeast corner of the
lake was an enticing goal for "long-distance" swimmers. It lay 
about a thousand feet from the Jewish cemetery. 
    Except for the hostelry and the candlemaker's home, "this side" 
of the bridge was largely pasture land. Twisters and dust 
blasts were frequent there, even years later when the area had 
become inhabited. From the bridge level the land rose sharply for
a distance of about 500 feet and then flattened out toward 
the horizon. 
    This is the way it was when Nicholas I became Tsar of all the 
Russias in 1825. At that time, in one of his early anti-Jewish 
edicts, a legend went, he declared that Jews who lived in villages 
but did not own or cultivate land must be expelled to live in 
towns of their own.(3) Most of the Jews, perhaps as many as 
35 families, then living in Sokolovka were subject to that edict. 
They had been the local shopkeepers, traders and craftsmen and 
did not own or cultivate land. So, expelled they were, to 
"this side" of the bridge. Here they squatted in the Kaprov backyard 
until, during the ensuing months, they built themselves permanent 
habitations of a sort on the upland, west of the bridge. The 
land they acquired, by purchase or lease, had belonged to an 
absentee Polish landlord whose wife's name, it is said, was 
Justina. The town that these families built was accordingly 
named Yustingrad in Ukrainian, or Justingrad in Polish, as seen 
in the town marker.
    There it stood for a hundred years until, in the Civil War after 
the Bolshevik Revolution, it was razed in the course of several 
pogroms. It was in one of these pogroms, in August 1918, that 
White Guardists lined up and shot to death 138 Yustingrad Jews 
from 5 to 88 years of age. Older B'nai Khaim in America to 
this day hold a memorial service every year to mourn these 
tragic deaths. (4) The land on which Yustingrad stood is now part 
of the farm collective just noted.
    All that is left of the town is the marker and four blackened 
huts perched on the bluff overlooking what once had been the l
ake. This is now a weedy pond, visibly 30 feet lower than the 
earlier water level. The "island" at the deep end has 
risen and stretches nearly across the horizon. The bridge, the 
sluice, the flour mill are gone. The cemetery is gone. What once 
was the bridge is now a small stretch of the four-lane concrete 
Kiev-Odessa highway. The ravine of my day and the stream 
which then flowed toward Konella have been filled in. The 
white clapboard church that faced you as you crossed the 
bridge toward Sokolievka is gone. So is the well at the end of 
the bridge where you began ascent into Yustingrad. 
    The village Sokolovka can be traced back at least as far as the 
17th century when it figured, along with Uman, in the peasant 
rebellions led by Bogdan Khmeimitzky and the Hetman, Gonta, 
against the oppressing Polish shlyakhta. Two hundred years 
later the Jews of Yustingrad still recalled with horror the 
slaughter of Jews in those rebellions. (Sienkiewicz tells this gruesome 
story in "With Fire and Sword".) An especially vicious person was 
called a "Gonta." In the 100 years of its existence Yustingrad
greW to have a population of over 3000. Yet so ingrained was 
this memory of their Sokolievka origins that they have always 
referred to themselves as "Sokolievker," the Ukrainian spelling 
of the name. Even in America Yustingrader worship in 
"Sokolievker" shulen, hold fraternal membership in "Sokolievker" 
associations and bury their dead in "Sokolievker" cemeteries. 
But of the village itself little is left today. It is a part of the 
collective with Yustingrad. When I visited there in May, 1965, I 
counted no more than two or three dozen scattered huts. 
The contour of Yustingrad had the shape of a horseshoe. 
Peasant huts made up the rim: the Jews filled the interior. A 
broad avenue running east-west cut the town in half. Side 
streets made up the rest. There were, of course, no sidewalks in 
Yustingrad, and there were few trees in the interior of this 
horseshoe. You could see orchards where the peasants lived and, 
if you ventured behind their orchards, you could see their 
farms. The roads were mud tracks in summer, frozen ruts in 
winter, and bogs in the autumn and spring. Many a wagon got 
stuck in the mud on the way up from the bridge into 
Yustingrad after the autumn rains and the spring thaws.
    The homes of both the Jews and the peasants were built of 
mud caked around matted straw and sun-dried into brick. The 
roofs were straw-thatched. Inside, the floors were crudely 
stained clay, cold in the winter and clammy in the rainy season. 
In autumn and spring the roofs leaked and the walls became 
sodden. In winter the interiors were heated by burning cow 
dung and horse manure in a hollow wall which partitioned off 
the living quarters. The dung and manure were gathered by the 
women with rake and besom after the weekly trading day. The 
kitchen was kept warm by a Dutch oven, on which people often 
slept. For the most part, the rooms were bare of furniture, 
except for a bed and one or two narrow wooden cots in the 
bedroom, and a table, benches and a bare sofa alongside the 
heated wall in the living room. Matted straw served to cushion 
the bed. A "perina" -a feather quilt-kept the bodies warm. 
Body lice and bedbugs were constant companions.
Cooking was done in unglazed earthen pots. At the table,
only Father used knife and fork. Soup was eaten with wooden 
spoons from a common wooden bowl. Chinaware was used only 
on special occasions. The table was always bare, except on 
Saturdays and holidays when it was covered with a cloth. On 
the Sabbath eve and on holidays Father blessed the Almighty 
over a Kiddush cup for having created "the fruit of the vine." 
Candlesticks with candles lit and blessed by Mother decorated 
the table.
    Not until the end of the 19th century could Yustingrad boast 
one two-story house and one kiln-baked brick mansion, both of 
these slate-roofed. A few were now tin-roofed and three or four 
had board floorings. Illuminating gas was unknown and electricity 
a hearsay. The kerosene lamp had only recently replaced the 
tallow candle.
    The home conditions of these "Sokolievker" were characteristic 
of their whole economic and cultural life-the cultural and 
economic life of all ghetto shtetlakh.(5) For the most part, 
everybody was poor, Jew and gentile alike. Culturally, they can be 
said to have been living in the 17th rather than the 19th 
century - illiterate, or semi-illiterate, superstitious, ignorant 
of their own biological and physiological processes-ignorant, for 
that matter of their anatomical structure; ignorant of geography; 
ignorant of history, even of their own history. What they 
knew of history was what they had learned in kheder, which 
took them back to the Creation, the Flood, the Exodus, the 
conquests of Canaan, the wars with their ancient enemies, the 
destruction of the Temple by the Romans - a world of miracles, 
of myths, of heroes and martyrs. The real world was the world 
of the God-ordained Tsar, the dreaded Cossacks, and the 
faraway towns where their sons served in the Tsar's armies. 
America was a land of strange people who changed their 
King every four years! 
    Yet, compared with the goyim, the ghetto Jews were enlightened 
people. For most of the goyim the world ended with the 
white-frame church in Sokolievka across the bridge. The peasantry 
was almost wholly illiterate, except for the ouradnik or 
peace officer, the village priest, the town clerk, and a few 
church elders. On the other hand. all the Jewish menfolk could 
read the Hebrew prayers. and some even learned to read the 
Hebrew Bible. Few knew the full meaning of what they read. 
Hebrew, indeed, was the Loshen Koidush, the Holy Tongue that 
should not be used in daily conversation except as an aside 
remark to make a subtle point in an argument. Few could read 
even Yiddish, the mother tongue. This was especially true of the 
     Few could write Yiddish; a handful, Hebrew. Only Jewish 
boys attended kheder, from the age of four until Bar Mitzvah, 
or so long as they could absorb "learning," unless they were 
needed earlier as family breadwinners. Girls received their 
"education" from their elders at home. All adults could speak 
goyish, the Ukrainian jargon of the muzhik. But very few could 
either read or write Russian. Most everybody could "figure," 
mentally, but not many could write the figures down. In this 
respect Yustingrad was a small sampling of the Russia of the 
day. In the country as a whole, only 20 percent of the people 
were literate as late as 1897, when the first all-Russian population 
census was taken. Of the Jews, however, 39 percent were 
literate, nearly twice the national average. Yet only 13 percent 
of the Jewish women could read or write, even Yiddish. The 
higher literacy among the Jews gave rise to the legend that every 
minister in the Tsar's cabinet had an utchennyi yevrei 
- a learned Jew - at his side to do his reading and writing for him.
    At the outbreak of the First World War, we find shtetl Jews 
writing letters to soldier husbands and sons for peasant wives 
and parents. A B'nai Khaim who lived there at the time recalls 
that "being semi-illiterate. . . themselves, these Jewish 'writers' 
would not always follow the dictation verbatim but blandly 
proceeded to use the words and phrases they knew how to 
spell." They charged 10 to 15 kopeks a letter, including the 
    At the beginning of the 20th century, few "Yustingraders" 
had seen a railroad train; still fewer had travelled on one. The 
telephone was a distant mystery; the telegraph was familiar by 
hearsay; the nearest post office was in Uman.
    In the late 1890's an itinerant entertainer introduced the 
phonograph to Yustingrad. For five kopecks he would let you 
stick two rubber tubes into your ears through which you could 
hear words and music coming out of a contraption on the table 
in front of you. Few, however, were convinced that the whole 
thing was not a money-making fake. The very idea of a turning 
metal disk singing the Kol Nidre!
Photography was taboo. To permit yourself to be photographed 
would be to flout the First Commandment - 
Ye shall not fashion an image of God. We therefore have few 
photographs of early B'nai Khaim. 
    There was no permanently settled physician in Yustingrad, or 
in Sokolievka. A feldsher - a male nurse trained in an army 
hospital - gave enemas, "cupped" to reduce a fever, set a dislocated 
arm. Old women cast out the Evil Eye. A child seared with 
scarlet fever was given a new name to fool the Angel of Death.
    To the minds of these people. a baby was conceived in its 
anatomical entirety. The nine-months gestation was simply a 
period in which it grew in size to be expelled "when the time
came." Parent cells were unknown to them. A miscarriage was a 
blessing-in-disguise. It rid the woman of a potential 
monstrosity -- as anyone could judge for herself from the appearance of
the undeveloped fetal lump. A child born with teeth could not 
live. A newborn babe knew the Mystery of Mysteries - the day 
of the Coming of the Messiah. A child born with teeth could 
talk. and might divulge The Day. God does not want His Children 
to know. A child born with teeth would not live.
    Twice as many babie teeth or no teeth, it seems, were born 
than survived infancy. In my own family nine were born, and 
four survived. My brother's mother-in-law bore 17 and buried 13.
Midwives. with the assistance of neighbor - women, delivered 
the babies. Infants were swaddled until they were nine to ten 
months old. The children were breast-fed 24 months before 
they were "weaned." 
    In rare cases a doctor was fetched from Uman, or a patient 
was rushed there. This would happen, for instance, in the case 
of an attack of appendicitis. Later toward the end of the 
century, a medical student would be induced upon graduation 
to get his first practical experience in our town. Usually he 
stayed no more than a year or two, and then a doctorless hiatus 
for another year or so would ensue.
    Public sanitation was non-existent in Yustingrad as late as 
1902 when I left to seek learning in the "Big City" - Uman. 
Only two homes had outside privies. The rest of the people 
eased themselves in the open - back of their huts, or in the 
exposed communal latrine. The communal cesspool was an 
especial abomination. The bees and flies that in fested it spread
contagion. All communicable diseases were epidemic.
    Water was supplied by water carriers from the well near the 
bridge at the bottom of the hill and stored in open vats in the 
kitchens. Standing in the darkest corner, the vats always 
emitted a musty smell. Only on Christmas Eve was special 
attention accorded them. Iron nails were driven in them to ward 
off the evil spirits believed to be infesting the air that night. In 
the spring these vats, together with the barrels in which 
cucumber,. cabbage, and watermelon had been pickled for the 
winter. were soaked in the lake and sunned on the shore. 
     Once a week, on Friday afternoon, and also on the eve of a 
holiday, every Jew cleansed himself in the communal steam 
bath. The women had their monthly cleansing in a mikvah 
(ritual immersion).
     Poverty was endemic, for the Jew and gentile alike. The latter 
was perhaps a little better off so far as basic food went, since he 
raised most of it on his farm. The Jew had no such resources, 
except for goat's milk and cheese - (every Jewish family, it 
seems, kept one or two goats: a few kept a cow). The Jews 
earned their livelihood as small shopkeepers and as artisans - 
blacksmiths. wainwrights, carpenters, tailors, shoemakers, etc. 
The remainder were teachers (melamdim), cantors and other 
employees of the synagogue-grave-diggers, Talmudists and the 
Rabbi's retainers. There were musicians and even two or three 
moneylenders, an egg and poultry dealer, and such casuals as 
day laborers. teamsters (bal agalas). etc. (7) 
     At all times most of these occuptions afforded but a scant 
and precarious living, varying according to the means available 
to local peasants and the peasants of the surrounding villages. 
Most of the week's business was done on the one market day 
which, in Yustingrad, fell on Monday. On that day several 
thousand villagers would come to town to trade amongst themselves 
and buy home supplies from the local stores and open 
stands. For the Jewish youngsters the weekly market day was a 
gala occasion: an opportunity to mix among the peasants, open 
the vodka bottles for them and lend them glasses from which to 
drink. In payment, the peasants would give them a little glass of 
vodka which the youngsters would pour into a bottle carried for 
the occasion. In a couple of hours they would have a bottle full 
of vodka to take home for family use.
     Black bread, herring,  cabbage soups, occasionally fish or beef,
and potatoes were the staple week-day diet. In the summer 
there would be the fresh fruits and vegetables; in the winter 
some of these would be eaten pickled. On the Sabbath and 
holidays there was the khalah, the twisted loaf of white bread; 
gefilte fish; chicken soup and boiled chicken. Prunes boiled with 
raisins and diced beets made an especially succulent dessert. For 
the children, the Passover was the favorite holiday, with its 
special foods, its festive air, and the new spring outfits in which 
to "show off." 
    Simkhas Torah, "Rejoicing in the Law," provided another 
gala occasion. After the morning prayers in shule, neighbors and 
relatives called in groups at one another's homes, chewed nuts, 
drank vodka, ate honey cake and special holiday pastries, sang 
songs and played at being tipsy.
    "How goes it'?" asked one Jew of another, an apocryphal 
story went the rounds. "Quite well," said the other. "If I didn't 
fast on Mondays and Thursdays. I'd starve on the Sabbath day." 
Health permitting, all Jews above age 13 observed the two 
major fast days. Tishah B 'ar (the 9th day of Av)-the Day of 
Lamentations over the destruction of the Temple by the 
Romans - and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. 
    Few had more than one full shift of clothing besides the daily 
work clothes. For men there was the clean kaftan for the 
Sabbath: for the women a clean, solid-color dress and the colorful 
headkerchief or shawl. All the male Jews had beards; not a few 
wore yarmulkas even when asleep. Married Jewish women all 
wore sheitels (wigs) - their own hair having been shorn off on 
the wedding day. All girls had their ear lobes pierced when very young, 
and most wore "gold" earrings. Except for the wedding band and an 
occasional string of colored glass beads, women wore little 
jewelry. A few men sported pocket watches with chains across their 
middle. A few homes had clocks. 
   Besides holidays and the Sabbath, the occasional family 
simkhas or festivities compensated for the drabness of everyday 
life. Engagements, weddings. Bar Mitztvahs, circumcision rites 
were occasions to throw off daily cares. Even funerals brought 
moments of relief, giving the women an occasion for a good cry.
   Once a year a fraternal organization, Bikur KhoUm ("visitors of 
the sick"), would hold a banquet for the poor, and these were 
a goodly proportion of shtetl Jews. Late Saturday afternoons the 
youth of the town went shpatzieren, promenading on the main 
street, girls with girls and boys with boys. If there was any 
flirting I was too young to notice.
   Most of the B'nai Khaim were tradespeople and poorer than 
the Jews who worked with their hands. Hand labor was for the 
people of a "lesser" breed than the B'nai Khaim! - although 
Zeide Khaim used his hands to make candles, and one of his 
brothers was a glazier. Even the artisans considered themselves at 
the bottom of the ghetto totem pole. The shoemaker, the tailor, 
the carpenter preferred to have himself inscribed in his passport 
or other legal documents as a prostak, literally a simpleton, a 
handyman, rather than be identified by his skill. The B'nai 
Khaim were the "learned" people of Yustingrad. Not until the 
end of the century did hand labor intrude on the mishpokhah, 
when two of Zeide Khaim's grandsons had become 
ropespinners, two blacksmiths, and one a carpenter. One of his 
granddaughters did sewing for a living. Several B'nai Khaim families 
earned most of their annual income selling dried, smoked and 
salted fish to the peasants in the winter months. The Greek 
Orthodox Church called for 14 meatless weeks before Christmas 
and six before Easter. The believers then ate fish. The B'nai 
Khaim helped supply the fish.
   As endemic as illiteracy and disease was the general ignorance 
and superstition of Yustingrad Jews. Some even believed in the 
transmigration of the soul. There was the case, whispered about 
under bated breath, of Shloime the money lender and his 
faithful dog Dushenka ("little soul"). Dushenka appeared at 
Shloime's front door from nowhere, it seemed, and for a year 
would not let him out of her sight. At night she would snuggle 
up on the porch. with ears cocked. One night Shloime had a 
dream - a troubled dream. Shmeal-Aba, the baal agala, to whom 
he had lent money to buy a new horse when his old nag had 
died. stood before him pleading: "I paid you all your money 
back except the last interest installment before I died last year, 
but you still hold the note I gave you. Please, tear it up. I 
cannot rest in my grave until you do that. I have watched over 
you all this time. This should balance my account with you. 
Please, tear up the note so I can rest in peace." Shloime the 
usurer woke in a daze. Rummaging among his files he found the 
baal agala's note. Taking the note with him, he walked out on 
the porch to relieve his bladder in the dear morning air, slowly 
tearing the note into small bits. As the last bit of paper fluttered 
to the ground, Dushenka came up to him, licked his bare feet, 
stretched out and lay dead!
   To probably all Yustingrad Jews before the end of the 
century, the Earth was flat and the center of the Universe. The 
Moon, the Sun and the Stars were "up there" as God had put 
them all at the time of the Creation to serve His people on 
earth. The worthy Jew might even turn to God for special
favors. So a Khaim Kaprov granddaughter claimed, late in the 
century, that her father had been endowed by the Holy One 
with the power to create a golem to serve him on the Sabbath 
day. On that holy day the Jews were not allowed to perform 
any week-day labors, except to pray, eat and procreate - not 
even to make a fire to warm them in the winter or to light or 
blow out the lamps or candles. These menial chores were 
performed for them by gentile boys and girls for a few kopeks or a 
hunk of white bread per Sabbath. However, you were not 
allowed to give them instructions concerning their duties on the 
Sabbath day; these had to be given on a week day. The golem 
got his instructions before sunset on Fridays.
    An apocryphal story circulating among the awakening 
younger generation illustrates this point: It seems that a gust of 
wind blew out the candles on a Friday evening in Yankel's 
home before he had done with all the reading he had assigned 
himself for that evening. Perplexed, he stepped out into 
the dark street, when his friend Ivan happened to be passing by. 
"Friend Ivan!" said Yankel, "I'd invite you for a glass of vodka 
if there were light in the house." "Why, thanks!" said Ivan, 
"that can be remedied." He walked into the darkened house, lit 
a candle and drank his glass of vodka. Then, after exchanging a 
few pleasantries with his friend Yankel, Ivan blew out the candle 
and walked out into the dark street.
   The "Sokolievker" were God-fearing people. The men would 
tend to their daily prayers, if not in the shule with a minyon 
(the minimum of ten adults necessary to form a praying congregation), 
then at home. As far as I knew or have been able to a
scertain since, no Jew of Yustingrad was ever guilty of a serious 
crime, although petty cheating in trade was a common practice. 
Drunkenness was a rarity. Venereal disease was unknown 
among them.
   The women were virtuous homemakers - cooking, washing, 
knitting, sewing, mending, bearing and rearing children, and at 
the same time often also tending to the store or a market stall. 
It did happen that, in the 1890's, a pretty young wife underwent 
two abortions while her husband was away in the army in 
a distant city. Also, a couple of Jewish girls came back 
"disgraced" from Uman where they had been hired out as housemaids. 
At the turn of the century a red-headed man from out-of-town 
set up a shop for cosmetics and sickroom supplies.
Within a year, four women. induding his wife, gave birth to 
four red-headed children. It wasn't long after, that he was sent 
packing to seek new pastures.
In 1901, when I was 13. I "took a census" of Yustingrad 
with the help of a chum a half-year older. The year before, I
had learned to read Russian and came upon the concept "classification."
Why not, then, "classify" our own people, first of all 
on the basis of "cultural levels",? Besides, the task was evidently 
simplicity itself! We "knew," or thought we knew, the members 
of every Jewish household in Yustingrad, by age, sex and education, 
and occupation. We also knew that the five synagogues in 
town each had a family membership of about 100. Every family, 
we figured, consisted of six persons, as our own two families 
did. Multiplying 5 by 100 by 6, we came up with a total population 
of Yustingrad Jews in 1901 of 3000. The first official 
Russian census of 1897, published in 1905, gave the town a 
total population of almost 3200. The difference, we figured, 
was accounted for in part by the spread of four years between 
the census dates, and in part by the goyim whose huts rimmed 
the Jewish settlement. I t was from this" census" that the 
"sociological" data recounted earlier were derived, including the 
extent of the prevailing illiteracy. 
   My father was one of the very few Jews in Yustingrad who could 
speak Russian - he had been raised in a city (Gaicin, 60 
miles due west of Uman), where Russian was more commonly 
spoken than goyish. It was for this reason that he was chosen to 
travel to university cities - Zhitomir, Kiev, Odessa - to find and 
induce medical graduates to begin their medical practice in 
Yustingrad. At the end of every two or three years, when the 
novice had decided he had enough of Yustingrad and left for a 
bigger city, the community once again raised fare money 
and sent my father to seek a new recruit. 
   In this way my father became a "man - of - the - world" in the 
eyes of his fellow - townsmen. Comparatively, he was also an 
"enlightened" man, a maskel, questioning the occult powers of 
the tsadik, the holy man. Once, on his return home from one of 
his "recruiting" trips to Kiev, when I had just learned to read 
Russian, he brought me a tattered copy of a Russian history 
book which must have been of interest to himself as well. He 
would sometimes take me along 0n his business trips to Uman 
and would delight in pointing out the Big Dipper, the North 
Star and the Constellations. One early morning when we had 
returned from such a trip and had gone to bed, my father 
remarked to me: "Some people think that the world [earth] is 
round and the sun revolves around it. That is why, they say, the 
sun shines on different parts of the earth at different times of 
the day. So, for instance." he explained, "here it is 4 o'dock in 
the morning and still dark. In London [!] it is already light." 
   Despite all his groping for knowledge and his repeated 
hobnobbing with physicians, my father had but the vaguest 
ideas of man's physiological processes. When he was 64 I 
showed him the stages of development of the human fetus 
preserved in a series of jars in the biological laboratory at Western 
Reserve University, where I was a senior. He stood transfixed, 
his lips moving as if in silent prayer. He died Cleveland 
in 1923 at age 77. 
   It should not be concluded, however, that the primitivism 
prevailing in Yustingrad at the end of the 19th century was an 
isolated phenomenon in Russia. Nor should it be thought of as a 
uniquely Jewish phenomenon, except that the Jews then 
labored under the handicap of repressive anti-Jewish laws of 
tsarist Russia. The ignorance was, first of all, Russia's. 
That country lagged 100 years behind Western Europe in enlightenment. 
Belief in the supernatural - in the supernatural power of 
the tsar, for example - was common. Why this was so can be 
learned from any good college textbook on "Modern European History." 
The fact is that Russia remained feudal generations 
after feudalism had been abolished in most of Western Europe. 
A revolution in St. Petersburg in December, 1825, staged by 
Russians of the highest rank in the military and nobility to 
bring their country in line with the enlightenment of, say, 
France and England, met with utter defeat. The revolutionaries 
were shot, strung up or exiled to hard labor in Siberia for life. (8)
In the middle of the century, an active segment of the Russian 
intelligentsia, the Slavophils, fought against any Westernizing 
tendencies. They even opposed the building of railroads in their 
country, arguing that such a move would stimulate industrialization 
and create a proletariat and much unrest, as in England and 
France. There were others, of course - most of the great 
novelists and poets, and the publicists Herzen, Bakounin and 
Chernishevsky - who labored, at the risk of their very lives to 
bring modern civilization to Russia. But it was not until the last 
quarter of the 19th century that light finally began to stream 
into darkest Russia: and then it came with a bang. When 
Newton came to Russia he came arm - in - arm with Marx and 
Darwin. And these, as we know, brought with them precisely 
enlightenment, industrialization, a proletariat and the 
   For the Jews in Yustingrad, the arrival of industrialization 
meant the beginning of the end of a petty - trade, handicraft 
economy. Furthermore, as an industrial - capitalist economy, 
Russia quickly contracted the capitalist disease known as 
the business cycle-the alternations between prosperity and 
depression. For reasons which need not be developed here, during the 
years 1899 - 1909 Russia was in an almost continuous depresson. (9) 
For the handicraft industries and for small traders, both 
the rise of capitalist production and the effects of business 
depressions proved calamitous. The rise of capitalist production 
meant the progressive displacement of the handicraft means of 
livelihood for most people in small towns, such as the inhabitants 
of Yustingrad. It was a repetition of the experience in 
England and elsewhere centuries earlier in the advance from a 
feudal - agricultural to a capitalist-industrial society. (10)
 Before long, factory - made goods began to compete with 
hand - made goods. Factory - made shoes undersold local 
hand - made products. Horseshoes made in an iron foundry miles away 
replaced the workmanship of the local blacksmith. Wheel 
spokes no longer needed to be planed and chiseled by the local 
wainwright - they were now shipped from a lumber mill; 
machine - made harness and reins replaced the hand - made products 
of Yustingrad ropespinners. Artificial flowers made of 
fabrics in a factory replaced the more perishable, home - made, 
paper variety; and so on and on. Even socks were now machine made!
   The continuing depression added to these woes. The unemployed 
factory worker ceased to be a customer for the output 
of the farmers; the impoverished farmers ceased to be customers 
of the local wagon maker and blacksmith and tailor. A political 
'revolutionary' unrest spread through Russia as the people found 
the Tsarist government unwilling or unable to relieve their 
distress. To divert the wrath of the people the governing powers 
unleashed the traditional pogrom tactics against Jews. At the 
turn of the century, the pogrom that let loose the emigration 
of Russian Jews in the 1880's recurred again and again with 
devastating regularity. "Shpola," "Kishiniev," "Mogilev" threw a pall 
on Jewish communities everywhere in Russia. On top of it all, 
on the eve of the Revolution of 1905, came the pogroms in 
Byalostock, St. Petersburg, Tomsk - a hundred pogroms. 
"Go to America" became the despairing refrain of the persecuted. The 
First World War, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Civil War that 
followed it and the pogroms that came with the counter revolution 
completed the process of devastation. That was when 
Yustingrad was destroyed and the remnants of its people dispersed. 
   Go to America!

Notes to Chapter 1

(1) The name Kaprov derives from the Czech word kapr, meaning karp 
(generically, fish). The Russian equivalents are Karpov and Karpovich. 
In the present case it may signify that Khaim Kaprov's family 
had originally come to Russia from Bohemia, now part of Czechoslovakia. 
(2) A first draft of this and the next chapter was circulated among the 
"ancients" for correction and amendment. Both my Uncle Avrom, 
the Rabbi, and my sister Alta, five years my senior. were of 
particular help.
(3) Actually, expulsion edicts began as far back as 1795, 
under Katherine the Great, and for many other reasons than those 
stated in this legend. Various edicts to expel Jews from villages 
were issued under Alexander I in 1804, 1807, 1823, and 1825. 
The edict of Nicholas I, which specifically applied to Jews in the 
Grodno and Kiev Provinces, was issued in 1835. See Israel Friedlander: 

The Jews of Russia and Poland, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 
New York and London, 1915. The expulsion from Sokolovka must 
have occurred at one of these later dates.
(4) In 1962. the Jews of Yustingrad origin from Buffalo, New York, 
erected a commemorative slab for them in the "Sokolievker" cemetery. 
(5) Shtetlakh is the plural of shtetl, a small - town Jewish community. 
For shetl life in 19th century Eastern Europe, see Mark Zborowski 
and Elizabeth Herzog: Life is With People, International 
Universities Press, Inc., New York, 1952.
(6) As late as 1929-30, when education in Russia had become free and 
universal (it was not until 1930 that a fourth-year education could be 
made compulsory, as school equipment and teachers became available), 
22 of the 125 candidates admitted to the Soviet Academy of Sciences 
were Jews - almost 18 per cent. (See Vestnik of the Communist Academy, 

Nos. 35-36, p. 384.) In the total population they accounted for 
scarcely three percent. This preponderance of higher learning among 
Jews in Russia continues today. Jews now account for almost ten percent 
of Soviet scientists and for 19 percent of its Doctors of Science, 
the highest academic degree granted in the USSR. (Theodore Shabad, 
in the New York Times, August 5, 1962.) In the total population they 
account for a little over one percent. I was reliably informed in 
Moscow that, in 1965, 20 per cent of the economists at the 
Academy of Science were Jews.
(7) The occupational distribution of the Jews in Russia, as revealed 
by the 1897 census, was:
               38.7% Trade 
               35.4 Industry: principally handicrafts 
                3.6 Agriculture 
                5.2 Government and professional
               17.1 Miscellaneous, including 1.1 % in the military

(8) Record of the trials, in Russian, at the Hoover Library 
in Palo Alto, California.
(9) Willard L. Throp: Business Annals, N.B.E.R. 1925, pp. 239-240; 
and Peter I. Lyashchenko: History of the National Economy of Russia,
to the 1917 Revolution. Macmillan. 1949, pp. 528 ff.
(10) For an illuminating account of the effects of industrialization 
on the handicraft industries or Russia in the last decades of the 
19th century, see V.I. Lenin: The Development of Capitalism 
in Russia. Collected Works, Moscow Publishing House, 1941-50. 
The book is a scholarly study by an eyewitness.

CandleMaker Kaprov
E-Mail: CandleMaker_Kaprov@Yahoo.com

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