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The Road from Letichev

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The Zinkov Synagogue

List of Surnames

Example Name List from Holocaust Chapter

Example Name List from Jewish Farmers Chapter


The Letichev District (Podolia) of Ukraine was a microcosm of Jewish life in Eastern Europe. But there were unique differences. It was the home of the Baal Shem Tov and the cradle of the Chasidic movement. This book is, in part, dedicated to the 300th anniversary of his birth. The Road from Letichev presents the history of the area through the eyes of individuals who lived there. Interwoven into the fabric of Jewish life are songs, food, folklore, health, education and crime. A complete encyclopedia of the rabbis who traveled The Road from Letichev is provided, together with a detailed description of synagogues (most of which are now destroyed) -- the first of its kind. The best description of a Jewish agricultural colony to date is detailed. On a tragic note, new information is provided on the 1648 Khmelnitsky massacres, as well as the pogroms of 1882, 1903-7, and 1919-21. Finally, the whole purpose for the book is to document what was destroyed in the Holocaust. No understanding of the Holocaust is truly complete without an understanding of what the Nazis took away from the world. The Road from Letichev provides this insight. Through the testimonials from survivors of the Holocaust we learn new information about the horrors of the Nazi occupation on Soviet soil. The Soviet experience in the Holocaust is relatively rare in the modern literature. Richly illustrated, more than 8300 individuals are indexed, including more than 600 unique Jewish surnames from Letichev District.

Chapter Summary

Chapter Description
Volume 1

Chapter 1 - Early History

Browse first 25 pages of Vol 1
Earliest history from about 1400 through to the Polish Partitions. Includes the founding of the major towns, Tatar attacks, first records of Jews, noblemen and the Jews, and the Khmelnitsky massacres.
Chapter 2 - Rabbis Description of the key rabbis and rabbinical families who influenced the Letichev District through the ages. Included is a detailed account of Rabbi Israel "Baal Shem Tov", who lived in Letichev District, along with key members of his family. The Letichev District was key to the founding of the Chasidic movement. Also described are the rabbis from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heshel's family. Rapoport and Bick rabbinical families are also described.
Chapter 3 - Religious Institutions A pictorial tour of the various synagogues throughout Letichev District. A detailed account of the Jewish cemeteries throughout the District, including catalogs of names.
Chapter 4 - Health and Welfare Accounts of the various common diseases of the Letichev District. Healers, folk remedies and health institutions are described.
Chapter 5 - Food Recipes and the significance of key foods are given. Various folk beliefs about food are provided.
Chapter 6 - Folksongs Music and lyrics of various types of songs are provided, including religious songs, folk melodies, wedding songs, songs of tragedy, childrens songs and poetry, and love songs.
Chapter 7 - Education Description of various types of Jewish education and schools in the Letichev. The development of the Haskalah movement is described. Translations of various Pinkas books are provided.
Chapter 8 - Occupations Various trades and occupations are described. Included is a Sholom Aleichem short story "The German", which took place in the Letichev District. Translated business listings are provided which lists thousands of individual Jews and their occupations.
Chapter 9 - Jewish Farmers Documentation about Jewish agricultural colonies in Russia is rare. Letichev District had several colonies, one of which - Staro Zakrevsky Meidan - was particularly long-lived. The life and times from founding to destruction of the agricultural colonies are described.
Chapter 10 - Military The Letichev District was the center of Russian military activity. The Jewish Draft was particularly brutal.
Volume 2

Chapter 11 - Law and Order

Browse first 25 pages of Vol 2
Crime and punishment was no stranger to the Letichev District. Documentation of various crimes from court records and newspapers is provided.
Chapter 12 - Pogroms The Letichev District suffered from three waves of brutal pogroms. These are documented through court records, eyewitness accounts, and newspapers.
Chapter 13 - Immigrants The immigration process is described along with some noteworthy immigrants. Landsmanshaftn societies sprung up in America. Membership and cemetery lists are provided which document thousands of individuals who have roots in the Letichev District.
Chapter 14 - Zionism Some key Zionist leaders came from the Letichev District and helped found the State of Israel.
Chapter 15 - Soviet Rule After the horrors of the Ukrainian Civil War, the Jews of Letichev District attempted to restore their culture. This was then suppressed under Stalin's oppression.
Chapter 16 - Holocaust The horrors of the Nazi Holocaust are documented through eyewitness testimonials, many seen in print here for the very first time. The Holocaust experience in the Letichev District was unique from other areas in Eastern Europe. This is documented for the very first time in careful detail.
Chapter 17 - Post WWII The few survivors of the Holocaust returned to Letichev District and attempted to pick up the pieces of their lives. Monuments were erected over mass graves. Reunions of survivors memorialize lost loved ones. Recent visits describe the state of the Jewish community today.
Appendices, Indices Gazetteer of towns, Glossary, Subject Index, Name Index. The Name Index has more than 8300 individual names listed. An analysis of Jewish names is provided.


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