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A Story about a rich Jewish family of Belarus arround 1917.

genecps 7 | 131
16 Jul 2012 #1
This is mainly a short story about my grandfather.

We are from the Segal clan. When the Russian Tzar took over the Polish Commonwealth, we like all of you ended up under the Tzars arms. Russians Tzars made it clear that they wanted to convert all Jews who would convert, or scare those that wouldn't convert into leaving the country. Our family by profession are Kosher butchers. I don't know much about how my ancestors lived, except that we own the grain mill in town. I would imagine we had a large farm and probably animals (would make sense that the butcher who lives in the country has cows). For those who have ever seen the Movie Fiddler on the Roof, then you know that butchers are the rich guys in the village. The Jewish religious authority (Kohans, which is the huge ancient family of Jewish Priests) couldn't even kill their own meat. They had to come to us and pay. From all of us to them... thank you! ;)

From what I know about rich Jewish culture of the ester year, or what we consider the Jewish upper class, there was a certain pattern to family structure. Rabbi's, who were often the most educated, usually reading and writing, their native tongue, Hebrew, and what ever is the language of the world renaissance culture of the time (which was predominantly German for the past 500+ years), were brought in to educate the kids. the boys would be taught the family craft, the girls would be turned into teachers by profession. I think that's common among rich families of all nations, not just Jews.

After the communist revolution, my great grandparents took my grandfather and ran away from Kransno Pole in Belarus, to some other city. I believe it was Minsk. I remeber my dad ways saying, that his grandpa was very educated, not just someone who can read and write. He landed on his feet, and spent his like being a director of some farm in Belorus. I asked my grandfather one time after Soviet Union collapsed, if he believed in communism? He responded yes. He was a card carrying member of the Communist Party. Both his wife and him met at before WWII at railroad engineering institute. The railroad in Russia was the "great peoples" project. Those guys were really true believers in communism, they saw through their eyes the best their eyes could imagine. Poor people could travel and visit far away places, all education was free, medical care became readily available. But it still always puzzled me how someone who was born into wealth could love communism so much. But I guess I don't have to go into how much we hate the Romanov family... So for those who would say that all Jews are greedy, I tell you this, if it took all our families wealth to see Tzar Nicolas and his family get theirs... it was well forth it too!

My grandfather was drafter into the Russian army when the was started. I believe he was 30. He went into infantry. The story I heard was that he was a pointman, and went to try to cross a mine field somewhere in Hungary, and the next thing is, he has a small stump a couple of inches bellow his right knee. But you could never get a smile of his face. After the was he went back to being an engineer, and farmed fruits and vegetables. My grandparents canned a lot of stuff and sold the rest at farmers market. He was a tall guy who always wore a jacket and a fedora style hat as was common among war vets who were jackets. He always were 2 medals on his coat lapel area (I'm going to post some pics of the medals), and hung out in veterans centers in Russia. Veterans affairs every few years gave him a car we call "conservi". It's one of those cars that's small and has a hand break. They are funny looking, but do the job.

My grandfathers parents were shot when he was away fighting the war. A lot of Jews in Belarus and Ukrain refused to believe that Germans were killing civilians. They thought it was scaremongering, just like the British and the Americans thought initially. So like my maternal great-grandparents they stayed behind and were murdered by the Germans. Because of that, he didn't speak much about his parents, even to his kids. My grandfather drank beer 2 to 3 times a week. And Vodka was on the menu, I just do not know how much. All I know is, when he got "tipsy" he would begin talk about how rich we were, and all the royal stuff about our family. But it wasn't much. My dad and his brother were very anti-drinking. So I can't remember seeing my grandpa drunk around my dad too much.

He was a cool guy to be around. If you screwed up he was stern. You were going to get a belt or his cane on the ass, but we had a similar temperament, and we both like to be outside, so me and his got along great. And when I was inside the house I read and watched tv and we ate together. It was just cool country living. I miss the guy! RIP

f stop 24 | 2,501
15 Apr 2014 #2
I just saw this! Good story.
magick777 - | 2
15 Nov 2020 #3
Wow what an incredible story. I am currently researching my family. My dad's side are Ashkenazi Jews who came to the UK from Poland and Russia in the 1900s-1930s. My mum's side were Sephardic Jews who came to the UK from Holland in the 1800s and before that Spain/Portugal. What I find fascinating is that because the Sephardic Jews had been allowed to come to the UK during the English revolution, Oliver Cromwell's time, they were well established and rather wealthy by the time the Ashkenazi Jews came over. Instead of helping them, the Sephardis apparently looked down their noses at their Ashkenazi Jews, who were mostly very poor and living in poverty in London's East End.

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