Chapter 11


By G. Urinsky



Among the pages of Pruzhany's community registration, a small diary is kept containing eight pages.  This is a document from the year 1831 and in that year cholera dominated Pruzhany.


On first booklet page, we find following inscription:


“With the conformity of all, we have decided to put the mercy of G-d in front of our eyes, from today and up to four weeks, when cholera is interrupted - if G-d wants -, we should be merciful that D-s grants our homes all the best, and let us be clean of all impurity and perfumed with fragrances. G-d merciful, those who offer gifts, be exempt of the wrong. Let us not deny the mercy of G-d because He protects us. An iron wall will not be able to contain the anger of G-d, and idolaters will be rejected. Let's accept the kindness of G-d on us (and on all our goods), who allowed us to live until today, because His outstretched hands offer us everything.


For that reason we have decided that each one of us offers money for himself and his family to be redeemed. Each one will offer every week until the end of the fourth week, according to his capabilities with which G-d ingratiates him. We designate ten outstanding people chosen by the Rabbi of our Community, to constantly pray and request that the anger of G-d that was spilled be silenced, and that through the study and the reading of the Torah we will save our people in these bad moments, as did our ancestors.


Let us pray to deviate G-d's anger. We should offer food to those in need, according to the confirmation of our Rabbi. We also designated people to aid everybody of who requires it (G-d shouldn't allow it), to help the poor deprived by illness, those prostrated in beds due to sickness, and to satisfy their souls. Let us open our eyes and let us look at the poor that suffer hunger, and about whom we, until this moment, have not worried. For all these actions They have pity on us from Heaven, and They grant unto us life and pity of survivors.


Should G-d order the Destruction Angel to cease its cruelty, and grant us pity. That G-d tell us: I won't punish you with illness; and our homes will remain calm; happiness will come to us; sadness will be gone; and our eyes will see Messiah's arrival and the reconstruction of the Great Temple.


The "Chevra Kadisha" (Burial and Community Society) was founded to raise the needed funds for the Society’s objectives. In the booklet's later pages there is a complete list with names of donors detailed per week, and a genuine list of expenditures.


It is characteristic that this Society fixed its objectives with florid details, and described the need of the poor. We find the reference of a Jew, Reb ZALMAN the tailor, who received three guilden and 20 groshen to take care of a sick person. Another person Reb AVIGDOR, tailor, received twice 6 groshen that is to say a total of 12 groshen. The remaining money, almost 200 guilden was distributed among the Rabbi, the students of Batei Midrashim (Houses of Jewish Religious Studies) and to anonymous people recommended by the Rabbi.


We do not find any date on the booklet. According to the names of the donors, we consider that this history lapsed some four generations ago. We also compared the list of deceased mentioned in  "Life Book" and we confirm that number of deceases in year 1831 was 89, when in previous decades the number of deaths ranged from 20 to 40 annually.