Zhetl, Slonim and Zelva

Dzyatlava / Zhetl

Dzyatlava – Wikipedia

Dziatlava (Belarusian: Дзятлава, Lithuanian: Zietela, Polish: Zdzięcioł, Russian: Дятлово, Yiddish: זשעטל‎ Zhetl) is a town in Belarus in the Hrodna voblast, about 165 km southeast of Hrodna. The population was 7,700 in 2016.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dzyatlava


Dzyatlava massacre

Dzyatlava massacre – Wikipedia

The Dzyatlava massacres (Yiddish: Zhetel‎, Polish: Zdzięcioł, and Belarusian: Dzyatlava) were two consecutive mass shooting actions carried out three months apart during the Holocaust.[1] The town of Zdzięcioł was nominally Polish until the end of World War II in 1945. It was located in the Nowogródek Voivodeship of the Second Republic prior to the Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland. Zdzięcioł was overrun twice, first by the Red Army in September 1939, and again, by the German forces in June 1941 after the outbreak of Operation Barbarossa.[2]

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dzyatlava_massacre

High School #1

Tamara translating my  presentation on the Partisans’ Song Project  

The town square    

Zhetl KehilaLink

Source: kehilalinks.jewishgen.org/Lida-District/dzyat.htm


Slonim – Wikipedia

Slonim (Belarusian: Сло́нім, Russian: Сло́ним, Lithuanian: Slanimas, Polish: Słonim, Yiddish: סלאָנים‎, Slonim) is a city in Grodno Region, Belarus, capital of the Slonim district. It is located at the junction of the Shchara and Isa rivers, 143 km (89 mi) southeast of Grodno. The population in 2015 was 49,739.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slonim


Slonim KehilaLink

With Tamara Vershitskaya

The Museum

Town Centre



Zelva – Wikipedia

Zelva (Belarusian: Зэльва, Russian: Зельва, Polish: Zelwa, Lithuanian: Zelva, Želva, Yiddish: זעלווא‎) is a town in Grodno Region, Belarus, the administrative center of Zel’va district. It is situated by the Zel’vyanka River.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zelva

Lots of radar in Belarus!


Zelva Belarus

Zelva Belarus

Source: youtu.be/w7tcjrzimAA

Zelva Belarus


Zelva KehilaLink

I made a Webpage

Source: kehilalinks.jewishgen.org/zelva_belarus/

The Town Square – looking for something specifically Jewish – no luck!

Lenin of course!

Around the town square

The Bloch Sefer Torah

Aphraim and Chava Bloch. Chava’s maiden name was Cynkin
Aphraim and Chava’s Ketuba  9 January 1891 –  Mir, today in Belarus

More about Aphraim and Chava and the Bloch & Cynkin Families:

Beverly Jacobson (middle) & her children

The visit to Cape Town from Israel by Beverly Jacobson and her children on a “roots” trip precipitated the search for the Sefer Torah her great grandfather, Aphraim Bloch, donated to Highlands House back in 1948.

The last time it was “seen” by a family member was by Beverly’s brother, Richard Shavei Tzion.

Richard: ‘This occurred in 1998, exactly 50 years after it was dedicated to my Great-grandmother Chava Bloch and to their daughter Rachel who I am named after.

While going through old family documents, I discovered a “Cape Times” article dated 1948, describing the dedication of a Sefer Torah which had been donated by my late great-grandfather Efraim Bloch to the shul at Highlands House, the Jewish retirement home.

Intrigued by this, I spoke to my friend, who together with his sons takes a very active role in conducting the Shul Services there. I asked him if he could identify the scroll, and indeed he found the inscription on the handles of a beautiful Sefer in the Aron Hakodesh. When it turned out that I would be visiting Cape Town, I asked if I could see it. The shul responded by suggesting that I attend a Shabbat Service, act as Ba’al Tefillah and be called up for “Maftir” using the scroll which my great-grandfather had donated. I was of course delighted to accept.

A number of relatives, amongst them descendants of Efraim Bloch, were present at the service. My feelings of family pride, personal humility and a sense of the closing of a circle were compounded when I was called up to the Torah. There I stood, a third generation descendant of Efraim Bloch. The reader pointed to the very first verse of the Aliya to which I had been called up and began to read. Of all the thousands of verses in the Torah, the one that commenced my Aliya read: “And Joseph saw Efraim’s children of the third generation…”’

Eli: ‘In August 2017,  my mother-in-law and grand-daughter of Aphraim Bloch, Ruth Saevitzon Reitstein, and my father-in-law, Leonard Reitstein, became residents at Highlands House.

On 14 March 2018 Ruth wrote to her niece Beverly Saevitzon Jacobson telling Beverly that there was no sign of her Zaida’s torah in the Highlands House shul.’

Ruth: ‘Rabbi Serwator inspected all five Torahs and could not identify the Sefer Torah. The only reason we can think of is that maybe the Torah was loaned to another shul and that’s where it is.

On 15 March 2018 Richard sent Ruth this  picture of the Sefer Torah in its mantle.

Richard: ‘The ID as I remember is a small silver strip on one of the wooden posts.’

On 17 March 2018,  Ruth wrote to her daughter Jill (my wife), here in Perth.

‘Hallelulah!!!!!  We found the TORAH!!!!!!. I went to shul this morning and Gilad Stern, Richard’s friend, took me to the ark and showed me the torah. It has markings on the Eitz Chaim.’

Photos taken by the family on 25 March 2018
Inscription on Bloch Torah
Aphraim Benyamin Bloch

Ruth & Leonard Reitstein at Highlands House. Ruth is Aphraim’s grand daughter
Beverly Saevitzon Jacobson & her children
Bloch descendants (and by marriage) at the Gardens Shul
The Descendants of Aphraim Bloch 
This interesting  article was written many years ago about Aphraim Bloch (mistakingly called Avraham Bloch in this article) and Molotov, the Foreign Miniser of the USSR.
The Geoff referred to in this article was the late Geoff Saevitzon, brother of Ruth Reitstein.  The mystery has never been solved.

I wrote several times to Vyacheslav Nikonov, grandson of Molotov, but he never responded!

Vyacheslav Nikonov – Wikipedia

Vyacheslav Alekseyevich Nikonov (Russian: Вячеслав Алексеевич Никонов, born in Moscow on June 5, 1956) is a Russian political scientist.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vyacheslav_Nikonov 

another torah donated to Highlands House
by Benny Rabinowitz

New home for Torah from Birzh

By: Gilad Stern

Date: 05 August 2015

Sefer Torah donated, with Good Hope

Reading the Torah on Shabbatot and yomtovim is a cornerstone of Jewish life.

But Torah scrolls are not easy to come by.  Both Highlands House Shul and

Tikva Tova, the egalitarian orthodox community, have benefitted from the

donation by Ben Rabinowitz of a Sefer Torah. The Rabinowitz family

originally brought a Sefer Torah from Birz, Lithuania to South Africa.  The

family were congregants at the Bellville Shul for much of the 20th Century.

The Bellville shul closed, and merged with Durbanville shul.  The Sefer

Torah which has now been placed at Highlands House has splendid calligraphy

– a clear script with distinctive character – the sofer (scribe) who created

it must have completed it as a labour of love and commitment.

The Torah cover was made this year at Astra, the Jewish sheltered employment

centre.  The design depicts Table Mountain and Cape Town, and bears the

words Tikva Tova, meaning Good Hope, a fitting design for a Torah cover at

the Cape of Good Hope.  The Torah cover has s dedication to the memory of

Shirley, Ben’s late wife, and to the Rabinowitz forebears who were part of

this community’s history.

Whilst the Torah will be housed at Highlands House, on Rosh Hashana and Yom

Kippur it will be used at the services of the egalitarian shul, Tikva Tova,

at the Herzlia High School hall.  Details on www.tikvatova.co.za

Source: kehilalinks.jewishgen.org/birzai/Torah.html

The Highlands House Synagogue


Brest Litovsk – Vol II – Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora

One of my photos of Brest in 2012 was chosen for the front cover of this volume.

Brisk Yiscor Cover 9781939561176_txt1 9781939561176_txt1



Thanks to Joel Alpert and JewishGen for allowing me to use this information.


Brest-Litovsk – Volume II
Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora
(Brest, Belarus)
Published by the Yizkor Books in Print Projectpart of Yizkor Books Project of JewishGen, Inc.

Translation of Brisk de-Lita: Encycolpedia Shel Galuyot
Original Yiddish Volume Edited by Elieser Steinman Published in Jerusalem, 1958
498 pages, 8.5″ by 11″, hard cover, including all photos and other images


Details:This is the translation of the Memorial (Yizkor) Book of Jewish community of Brest-Litovsk, Belarus.The name of the town, Brest-Litovsk, indicates its link with Lithuania. Although founded by the Slavs in 1017 and invaded by the Mongols in 1241, it became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1319, and in1569 it became the capital of the unified Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.The town is also known as “Brisk,” in Yiddish to the Jews who lived and thrived there for six centuries. Jewish “Brisk” had an illustrious history; the famous Brisker Yeshivah attracted scholars from all over Europe. The list of Rabbis of Brest includes such famous rabbis as Solomon Luria and Joel Sirkes in earlier periods, the Katzenellenbogens, and three generations of the Soloveitchik dynasty in more recent times. Brest also produced Jacob Epstein the great Talmudist at the Hebrew University, Menachem Begin, and many other major religious, literary and political leaders.In 1923, Jews, made up 60% of Brest’s population of 60,000.

This book was written by Brest survivors and former residents from many countries who contributed their memories of their hometown as a record for future generations, and as testament and loving tribute to the innocent Victims of the Shoah. It is a must read for researchers of the town and descendants of “Briskers.”

Brest, Belarus is located at 52°06′ North Latitude and 23°42′ East Longitude 203 mi SW of Minsk.

lternate names for the town are: Brest [Belarussian], Brest Litovsk [Russian], Brześć Litewski [Polish], Brześć nad Bugiem [Polish, 1918-39], Brisk [Yiddish], Brasta [Lithuanian], Brest Litowsk, Brisk Dlita, Brisk de-Lita, Brześć-Litewsk, Brist nad Bugie, Bzheshch nad Bugyem, Bieraście


Nearby Jewish Communities:

Terespol, Poland 6 miles WSW Chernavchitsy 8 miles N Kodenì, Poland 14 miles SSW Zhabinka 15 miles ENE Piszczac, Poland 16 miles SW Volchin 21 miles NW

Zamosty 21 miles NNE – Kamyanyets 21 miles NNE – Janów Podlaski, Poland 22 miles WNW Charniany 23 miles ESE – Vysokaye 23 miles NW – Biała Podlaska, Poland 24 miles W

Abramovo 25 miles N – Domachėvo 25 miles S – Sławatycze, Poland 25 miles SSW Łomazy, Poland 27 miles WSW Niemirów, Poland 27 miles WNW Malaryta 27 miles SE – Konstantynów, Poland 27 miles WNW Wisznice, Poland 29 miles SW – Kobryn 29 miles ENE – Rossosz, Poland 30 miles SW

Available at:


List price:

$56.95 Available on Amazon for around $41, may have lower prices elsewhere




This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.’s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.

JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

  Yizkor Books in Print     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page


Yizkor Book Project Manager, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Lance Ackerfeld

Copyright ©1999-2014 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 11 May 2014 by LA


Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 2.19.33 pm

Visit the Brest Kehilalink:


Brest Kehilalink