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On Porozow

Andrei Sikou's Blog. Andrei Silko's in-laws live in Porozow, and he spends summers there. He has created a blog, mostly in Byelorussian but also partially in Polish, about Porozow and its environs and history. You can see it here.

Bernacki Family. Ed Zwiebach has some Porozow natives on his family tree, which he has posted on the web. You can read about them here.

Lashinsky and Caplan Families. Diary of Our DNA is a labor of love by Rochelle Lash, a Canadian newspaper person and corporate communications editor. She put the book together to preserve her parents' photos. It touches on the lives and times of her father's family (Lashinsky-Caplan) from Porozow as well as her mother's family (Balacan & Bolchover) from Romania. View the PDF here.

On Belarus


All-Belarus Database. JewishGen hosts this site, which incorporates several databases containing more than a quarter of a million entries from Belarus, here.


Background Notes on Belarus. This page on the U.S. State Department's website, located here, includes information on the geography, people, government, economy and political environment in modern Belarus, plus extensive notes on U.S.-Belarussian relations.


Belarus Country Guide. You can find basic information about modern Belarus on the Columbus World Travel Guide website here.


Belarus Special Interest Group. The home page of the Belarus SIG, which includes a wealth of resources for conducting research on Belarus and its Jewish communities  can be found here.


On Grodno Gubernia


National Historical Archives of Belarus in Grodno. This archive holds records, books, periodicals and other items relating to the former Grodno province, among other things, from the sixteenth to the early twentieth century. This website details not only the holdings of the archive, but also the procedures for commissioning genealogical research.


Jewish Holdings at the Grodno Archives. This page contains an inventory of Jewish records, including records from Porozow, that relate to the former Grodno Gubernia and that are held not only in Grodno, but in several other regional archives as well as the main archive in Minsk.


Selected Records from the Grodno Oblast Archive  in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. This is an inventory of microfilms that contains documents captured by the Soviets when they assaulted the German headquarters in Grodno. They are available to be viewed and copied at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.


Cities and Towns in Grodno Gubernia. A guide to administrative divisions and a list of shtetlach.


History of Grodno Gubernia. Grodno from the very beginning.



On Neighboring Towns


Bialystok. Latitude: 53º 6' , Longitude: 23º 10'.  Bialystok is today is the largest city in northeast Poland, with a population of about 350,000. Early Jewish settlement in Bialystok, which is situated on, and named for, the Biala River, was encouraged by local manorial overlords. According to Encylopaedia Judaica, by 1765, 765 Jews lived in the town. Jews gravitated toward trade and the textile industry, and by 1898, 80% of the textile mills were Jewish owned. Just before the turn of the 20th century, Jews, nearly 48,000 strong, accounted for fully three quarters of the population of the town, and nearly 90% of the merchants were Jewish. Bialystok was assigned to the Soviets by the German-Soviet Pact of 1939, and held until the Germans invaded in June 1941. Thousands of Jews were immediately rounded up and killed, and a ghetto was established. There was fierce resistance by the Jewish underground to its eventual destruction in 1943. After the war, more than 1,000 Jews remained, of whom 900 were locals and the balance were from neighboring villages. A memorial to the Bialystok Jewish community can be found here, and you can view  vintage photos of Bialystok here.


Grodno. Also known as Hrodno. Latitude: 53º 41', Longitude: 23º 50'. The Encyclopaedia Judaica notes that the Grodno Jewish community dates to 1389 and is one of the oldest in the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Grodno became a significant center of Jewish learning and was home to several notable rabbis, and also a center of commerce, its Jews engaged primarily in agriculture and the timber industry. There were nearly 8,500 Jews there in 1816, more than 85% of the population at the time. The Jewish population increased tremendously in the nineteenth and early twentieth century and stood at more than 21,000 in 1931. The late nineteenth century saw the rise of both a socialist and a Zionist movement in Grodno. The Nazis occupied the city in 1941 and most of the Jewish community was wiped out, though 2,000 Jews resettled there in the post-war years. An extensive history of Grodno written in 1999 by Ellen Sadove Renck can be found here, the 1911 edition of the Encyclopedia Brittanica has an article about Grodno here, and information about things to see and do in Grodno today can be found here.


Jalowka. Also known as Yaluvka. Latitude: 53º 01', Longitude: 23º 54'. Jews first arrived in Jalowka in the late 17th century, and soon played a major role in the economy of this town. There were 372 Jews there in 1847, and 668 by 1878, more than 60% of the population of the town. Many were coppersmiths and carpenters, according to Tomasz Wisniewski’s 1998 book, Jewish Bialystok and Surroundings in Eastern Poland. About 100 Jewish families lived there on the eve of World War II. Jalowka today is located in Poland, and has no Jewish population. Information on the remains of the Jalowka Jewish cemeteries can be found here.


Svisloch. Also known as Svislotch, Swislocz and Sislevich. Latitude: 53º 02', Longitude: 24º 06'. Known as Sislevich in Yiddish, Svisloch was one of the larger shtetlach in Grodno Gubernia. Located on the Svisloch River, it had nearly 1,000 Jews in 1847 and more than twice that number half a century later, giving it a substantial Jewish majority. A market town, it was linked economically to Bialystok and other towns in the area. According to a 1944 article entitled "Swislocz - Portrait of a Shtetl" written by Abraham Ain, seventy percent of Svisloch’s Jews earned their living from the local leather industry. A web page about the former Jewish community of Svisloch can be found here, and the official website of the Svisloch District of the Grodno Region Administration of the Republic of Belarus (which includes Porozow) can be found here. The site contains general, current information about the region, its history, culture, government and economics.


Volkovysk. Also known as Vaukavysk, Volkovyskas, and Wolkowysk. Latitude: 53º 10', Longitude: 24º 28'. According to the Encyclopaedia Judaica, Jews were first mentioned as living in Volkovysk in the late 16th century. By 1766 the number of Jews paying poll tax in the area reached nearly 1,300. That number grew steadily throughout the nineteenth century, and by 1921, there were more than 5,100 Jews there, or 46% of the population. They primarily worked in trades and were shopkeepers. The Jewish population was liquidated during the Holocaust when the Germans invaded Belarus. Information on Jewish Volkovysk can be found here, and a wonderful, illustrated travelogue of Emma Tait's September, 2005 trip to Volkovysk can be found here.


Zelwa. Also known as Zelva. Latitude: 53º 09' , Longitude: 24º 49'.  The Jewish presence in this small town on the Zelvyanka River began in the second half of the seventeenth century. According to Encyclopaedia Judaica, the local Jewish community was under the jurisdiction of the Grodno kahal. Local Jews were involved in trade, and numbered about 850 in the middle of the nineteenth century, a number that grew to more than 1,800, or 66% of the population, by the end of the century. The Jewish community was destroyed by the Nazis. Jacob Solomon Berger has posted a website about Zelwa here, with a link to the Zelwa Memorial Book here.

© 2004-2020  Scott D. Seligman