Belaroots (3)

The map on the left is a map of Belarus (Byelorussia, Belorussia). See the district of Vitsyebsk (Vitebsk) in the top right section of Belarus. The map that appears on the next page provides detail on this section and shows clearly the town of Osvei (Osveya).

map belarus

Detailed map of Vitebsk District with Osvei (Asveja) Indicated by a Star

map asveja (Osvei)

Lake Osveya is the biggest one among 25 lakes of the region. It is the second biggest lake of Belarus. Its total area is 5.3 thousand hectares. The biggest swamps are at Osveya, Krupets, Tyatno and Krevniki. Lake Osveya is near the border between Byelorussia and Latvia.

There were 28 towns (shtetls) in Vitebsk Gubernia,some very large. For example, the population of Vitebsk is about 66 000,which is as large as a city. Here is a selection of a few of the shtetls. Osvei (Asveya) is the last one on the list.

census banner osvei Jewish population of Vitebsk gubernia according to the 1897 census

population table osvei

My father’s (Izzy) first name was Izroel (Yiddish for Israel), which is the patronymic of the Gamerovs (see voters role below).

voters role israelov

The patronymic of a person is based on the first name of his or her father and is written in all documents. If it is mentioned, it always follows the first name. A suffix (meaning either “son of” or “daughter of”) is added to the father’s given name—in modern times, males use -ович -ovich, while females use -овна -ovna.

Historically, the -ovich (-ovna) form was reserved for the Russian aristocracy, while commoners had to use -in, -yn, -ov, -ev, etc. (for a son; e.g., Boris Alekseev, Dmitri Kuzmin) and -eva, -ova, -ina, etc. (for a daughter; e.g., Sofiya Alekseeva, Anastasiya Kuzmina). Over time, the -ovich (-ovna) form spread to commoners favored by the tsar, high-ranking bureaucrats, and during the 19th century, to all segments of Russian society. So, if you were iching to get into the Czar’s good books, it could’ve been your lucky day; if you sandwiched a few strategic rubles between the pages.

Here is a photo of Izzy (about 20 years old) and his two sisters, Shifra (left) and Goldie (right).

photo izzy

Shtetl

All Population

Jewish population

% of jews

Vitebsk

65.719

34.420

52.4

Surazh

2.731

1.246

45.6

Velizh

12.180

5.982

49.1

Garadok

5.023

3.413

67.9

Dvinsk

69.489

32.639

46.6

Asveya

2.830

1.660

58.7

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s