Gorodok, Vileika District, Belarus
Shtetl Talk

Changing Gorodoks
In August of 2001, the database on Ellis Island turned up a long list of Ubersteins and Farbermans for a supersleuth researcher.  She forwarded the information to us with a note that the Gorodok in question was between Volozhin and Radoshkovici. 

In my thank you letter, I asked how she knew it was that Gorodok and not Ostroshitskiy Gorodok.  She wrote back about having seen a map made between the two World Wars, and Gorodok was in Poland. 


Twelve and seven-tenths miles east-northeast of Minsk would not have put Ostroshitskiy Gorodok in Poland between the two World Wars.  It then began to make sense why there are so many in our family with ties to Volozhin, only 16.2 miles WSW of Gorodok.  


"We were very happy to be in Poland," Shirley Karben  would jest.  "We simply could not stand those Russian winters."  With all this evidence, it was not difficult to dispose of the the remaining erroneous assumptions that had led to the wrong Gorodok. 

Our supersleuth researcher had mentioned the existence of a couple of films about our Gorodok. 

Thanks to the National Center for Jewish Film at Brandeis University, they can be obtained as videos. 

The one entitled "Horodok" was easy enough to find in the alphabetical list of offerings.  It is silent, and most of the film is devoted to the visit of a benefactor, who is pouring milk and distributing bagels to all the schoolchildren at a long outdoor table.  The stills here I captured with a digital camera.  I made a shot of a sign over something that appears (in the frame left) to have been boarded up.  It was in mirror image in my photograph.  Turned inside out, it then clearly read "UBERSZTEJN." That qualified as a "eureka" moment.  Below, more scenes from the video.

Above, carrying back home water for the day.

 All the cows in the shtetl are escorted out of
the shtetl each day by a designated
cowperson.  After grazing, each is returned
to their respective owner at the end
of the day, as seen at right.

Another video -- about presumably the wrong Gorodok -- came to mind.  I viewed it again and was astonished to see some of the same footage, much less of the benefactor pouring milk, and more scenes of Gorodok.  Plus voices.

About that other video  


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