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Lithuanian and Latvian Jewish donations printed in HaMelitz, 1893-1903

by Jeffrey Maynard

· The Jewish Press in the Pale of Settlement
· HaMelitz
· Types of lists and announcements
· Database format and content
· Search the Database

This is an index to lists of names and announcements that were printed in the Hebrew newspaper HaMelitz during the years 1893 to 1903.  With a few exceptions, only names listed as being from towns in Lithuania or Latvia have been included.

There is additional genealogical value to some of these lists where they indicate family relationships.  Also, many donations were made on the occasions of weddings, and these announcements typically mention the names of the bride and groom, and sometimes the date and place of the marriage.  The family relationships have been noted and cross-referenced in this index, together with notes giving other information, such as a title or name of a synagogue.  There are 19,550 names in this database.

The Jewish Press in the Pale of Settlement

In the second half of the nineteenth century there were, during various periods, four Hebrew daily newspapers.  These were Ha-Magid (The Narrator or Preacher), Ha-Melitz (The Advocate or Morning Star), Ha-Tzefira (The Dawn) and Ha-Yom (The Day).  Other publications in Hebrew included Tsiyon (Zion), and Ha-Shahar (The Dawn).  There were no Yiddish daily newspapers.  The Yiddish weekly Kol Mevaser (Voice of the Messenger) existed from 1862 to 1872 and the weekly Judisches Folksblat existed for nine years.  The Russian language publications included Razvet and Voskhod.

The Hebrew press in the second half of the nineteenth century circulated widely in Lithuania and Latvia, and includes much material for the study of the Jewish communities in Lithuanian and Latvian towns and cities.  More significantly, for genealogical and biographical purposes, lists were published of contributors to funds for the building up of the Land of Israel, and for relief funds to assist victims of famine, fires and other tragedies.


HaMelitz, which was initially published weekly, was founded in 1860 in Odessa with the object of mediating "between Jews and the Government and between faith and enlightenment".  It was published in St. Petersburg beginning in 1871.  By 1893, it was regularly filling its back page or pages with lists of donors.

HaMelitz was published until 1904, and is available on microfilm at several libraries throughout the world.< /P>

Types of lists and announcements

Most of the lists are of donations to workers in the Land of Israel.  Some are of donations to alleviate the famine in Bessarabia or the fire victims in Aniksht and other places.

Many are announcements of weddings.  Sometimes these are a simple announcement by the bride and groom.  Often they are lists of donations to the "Workers in the Holy Land" that were collected from the guests at a wedding.

The style and information given varies over the years, with the earlier issues in a clearer type and more readable format.  The print in the later issues is quite small and reading it from a microfilm is often nearly impossible.  The information was sent to the editor of HaMelitz by correspondents and agents who were appointed in each town.  It should be borne in mind that these agents wrote the original information by hand and mailed it to the newspaper.  The names were then set in type.  There were often errors and mistakes, some of which were occasionally corrected in later issues.  The same name is sometimes found spelt in two different ways in one group of announcements sent in by a single collector.  Dates are also sometimes difficult.  The agent would wait until he had several announcements to hand in, and the newspaper printed them as space was available.  Thus a list of donors on the evening of Yom Kippur might be printed six months later.

To demonstrate the flavor of the material, here are some examples:

HaMelitz Issue No. 145 (June 30) 1897:

For the day that our brother was appointed agent in Kursenai for the Society for Settlement in the Land of Israel, we gave 18 kopeks for the good of the workers in the Holy Land.  Feige Ita and Boruch Eliezer Teren.

For the day that my father was chosen to be an aide to the government rabbi in Kursenai, I gave 25 kopeks for the good of the workers in the Holy Land.

When I was called up to the Torah in Shukian I blessed my parents and gave 50 kopeks to the workers in the Holy Land to the official agent here.  Aharon the son of Tzvi Lipshitz in Kursenai.

I received a donation from Reb Zalman Lipshitz as a member of the support society of 3 roubles for the year 1897.  The agent Y. M. Teren.

On the wedding of Zusmann Kiteia to Hende Nurok in Kursenai, donations were collected by Dovid Horwitz: Mr. Shapiro from Grozd and Dovid Horwitz 25 kopeks each, the Bridegroom, Yakov Nurok, Yitzchok Yankelowitz, Mr. Kaplan from Grozd 20 kopeks each, Yisroel Kaplan 15 kopeks, the synagogue reader Pubowitzki, Mr. Mendil Naftalin, 10 kopeks each.  Total 1.65 roubles.

In remembrance of the appointment of my friend Mr. Zalman Lipshitz as a member of the Palestine Society, I gave 18 kopeks to the workers in the Holy Land.  The agent in Kursenai, Yitzchok Mendil Teren.

HaMelitz Issue No. 150 (6 July) 1897:

On Tuesday the day before the first day of Tammuz, when Eliezer and his wife Chaya Sheinok entered their son Katriel into the covenant of Abraham our father [i.e. it was his circumcision], the father of the mother who gave birth, Y. Zakheim, and the father of the boy donated 1.50 roubles each, Sh. Ragoler 1 rouble, Y. A. Ragoler, Reine Sheinok, Aharon Yakov Sheinok, Shmuel Sheinok, M. L. Shteinberg 50 kopeks each, Y. Ch. Ginzburg 25 kopeks.  In total I collected 6.75 roubles and I gave it to the agent here for the good of the workers in the Holy Land.  (sent in by the agent for Vilna).

HaMelitz Issue No. 237 (29 October) 1897:

Account of the donations from those who were called up to the Torah on Shabos Nachamu for the settlement in the Land of Israel that I received from the collectors Yisroel Lewitatz and Avraham the son of the brilliant rabbi Sh. M. Shapiro.

In the Minyan [prayer group of ten or more men] of the brilliant rabbi: The great rabbi Sh. M. Shapiro 54 kopeks.  Aharon Grosbord 50 kopeks, Yitzchok Leib Proz 40 kopeks, Moshe Yodaiken, Gershon Kaplan, Avraham the son of the rabbi, Binyomin Zev Hotz, Shalom Nachimowitz from Kruk, 36 kopeks each.  Yakov Heshilzohn, Ber Aronzohn, 20 kopeks each.  Zalman Yosef Shneider, Micha Moshe Hotz, Shaul Kohn, Bentzion Kopil, Reb Yechezkel Mordechai Shtein, Shlomo Chawkin from Zager, Yakov Ton, Eliezer Shuster, Reuven Kursh, Yosef the son of Eli Lipowski, Kalman Zaltzberg, Dov Tzvi Donn, Zev Rozin, Bentzion Hotz 18 kopeks each.  Shimon Moshe Moros, Zusmann Grosbord, Feiwil Tzitron 10 kopeks each, in total 6.46 roubles.

In the Great Synagogue: Zalman Lifshitz 2 roubles, Dovid Horwitz 1 rouble, Yisroel Lewitatz, Mordechai the son of Yehoshua Lifshitz, Yosef Lifshitz, Yisroel Lipowski, Zev Lipowski, Yakov Tzvi Pormann, Gershon Shefer, Shalom Izralshtam, Reb Chaim Adelzohn, Reb Zalman Yodaiken, 50 kopeks each.  The Shochet and Bodek Abba Gordon, the Synagogue Reader Kibowitzki, Yehuda Goldwaser, Yakov Goldwaser, Naftali Irdong, Eliezer Bikowitz, Dov Zev Katzav, Akiva Lipshitz, Avraham Aba the son-in-law of Eizik, Zalman Kohn, Zelig Weis, Yakov Lewi, 18 kopeks each.  In total 11.78 roubles.

The agent in Kursenai, Yitzchok Mendil Teren.

Database format and content:

This database was created in the same format as that of the HaMagid donors to alleviate the famine in Persia in 1872.
The data fields are:

  1. Family name (Surname)
  2. Personal name (Given name), including any patronymic or family relationships
  3. Town
  4. Source (HaMelitz issue number)
  5. Year of publication
  6. Comments: Title, occupation, wedding details, other notes, etc.

The following abbreviations are used in the database:

  • ben = son of
  • bas = daughter of
  • s-i-l = son-in-law
  • f-i-l = father-in-law

I have left most names of synagogues in transliterated Hebrew, as they may be more recognisable to those who knew them.

The index is copyright, and may not be used for commercial purposes.

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Last Update: 21 Oct 2004
Data Copyright ©1997 Jeffrey Maynard.
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