Pinkas:  Pruzany, Bereza, Maltch,Shereshov, Seltz
Table of Contents

4. Shershev:

4.1. Background

4.2. Our Home Town

4.3. The Rabbis of Shershev

4.4. Ten Years of the Yavne School in Shershev

4.5. The Jewish community

4.6. The General "Gmiles Khosodim" Fund in Shershev





Thanx to Leah Watson & Stuart Levine for the Shershev section


Any one who is able and willing to help in anyway (e.g translation, donation..) to help post the 1958 Pinkas Pruzany please contact me.

Jay Lenefsky       CPSA Coordinator


Our Hometown, Shershev  -Zundl Yablonovitsh

I write the following lines at a time when Shershev has already been reduced to ruins, when my hometown has been destroyed. It is not the history of Shershev I am writing here. These are pictures that live in my memory. Of course, I may have forgotten some things, or have left someone out. But this was unintentional. We are dealing here with events that took place decades ago.

Shershev, in the gegnt [region] of Polesie, belonged in the time of Czarist rule to the gubernye of Grodno, and to the Uezd (district) of Pruzhene (before the Polish rule). The town was located at a distance of 15 kilometers from Pruzhene. It was reached by the highroad that led to the pushtshe (forests) of Bieloviezh. From the highroad a paved road 3 kilometers long led into the town. This road was called "The Brukovke".

Shershev had approximately 2,000 inhabitants, most of them Jews. Before the outbreak of World War One in 1914, Shershev, as has been said above, belonged to Russia. In 1915 the town was occupied be the Germans. They stayed in it until the end of the war. After 1918, the town was transferred from one authority to another; first the Bolsheviks, then the Poles then the Bolsheviks again, or other groups and bands. Not until the peace between Poland and Russia did Shershev belong to Poland until September 1939.

In September 1939 Shershev, together with the whole eastern part of Poland was occupied by the Red Army during the German invasion of Poland. The town was under Soviet rule until June 1941. Then it was occupied by the Germans. After Hitler’s defeat in 1944-45 the town was returned to Russia.

Shershev considered itself an old town. It was said to be centuries old.

Shershev was built in an old-fashioned European style: wooden houses, covered with wooden tiles [shindl-dekher]. Some houses, especially the peasants’ houses at the edge of the town were thatched with straw. The main streets were paved and had wooden sidewalks. Shershev had four main streets in the pattern of a cross.

There names were:

1. Pruzhene street with the Bridge street which crossed a roy (stream) through which flowed water. Over the small river there was a wooden bridge.

2. Kominietsh street

3. Stariveske street

4. Beys Chayim street (Cemetery street).

There were also smaller streets, for example Untern Dol ["beyond or beneath the valley"]. This small street looked like a valley, in the middle of a pit from which yellow sand was dug. Around this pit was a circle of houses. The older people used to say that the pit was made in the time of the Povstanye [Polish uprising] when many people were killed. Indeed, when yellow sand was dug there human bones were found.

There was also the Heyf-gasl which, with its lovely appearance and densely growing, tree lined avenues beautified Shershev. This was the place for summer walks.

From the central streets, yet other small streets branched off, looking like the veins of a human body.

The "heart" of Shershev was the market, where there was also a "circle of stores", built in stone, where Jewish storekeepers sat waiting for customers.

The Famous Great Synagogue

The great, old Synagogue, built in stone, resembled a temple with its artistic architecture. Two wide, round columns at the entrance strengthened the impression the synagogue made. Inside, one was captivated by the artistically carved ark and by the wonderful murals. These decorations were very old. Even the grandfathers did not know when the synagogue had been built.

The many fires which had, at various times, destroyed the town, had spared the synagogue.

One of the worst fires happened in about 1908. People wanted to smoke out the worms from the trees in the priest’s orchard. A thatched roof caught fire and a terrible conflagration ensued. More than half the town burned down. This was one of the biggest fires. Houses near the synagogue burned, but the synagogue survived.

The synagogue also stayed intact during World War I. But shortly after that war, a small fire broke out in the Shul-gas [synagogue street]. Then the synagogue did burn. It was not rebuilt. American landslayt sent money to repair it, but the work was not carried out. With the money from America and with the help of local householders a large stone bes midrash (study house) was build near the synagogue. It was the biggest in the town. This was where the town community meetings and gatherings were held.

Apart from this bes midrash, Shershev also possessed: Reb Eyzhe's bes midrash, the Rabbi’s bes midrash, the New bes midrash and the Hasidic bes Midrash.

The Jewish community also owned a hekdesh [a kind of house for poor people who were tRabbieling through], a town bathhouse and a rabbi’s house.

Of religious officers, we had a dayen, a shoykhet [ritual slaughterer]. A mohel [circumsizer] and a hazen [cantor].

Every synagogue had its sha-mes. There was also a Shul-rufer [person to call the congregates to prayer]. Every Sabbath eve and holiday eve he walked through the Jewish streets crying, "Jews, to the synagogue".

At this point we should also mention the religious teachers and their schools: these belonged among the religious institutions of the town.

We had a Chevre kadishe [burial society] which was in charge of preparing the corpses for burial. But it was also involved in, and in fact played a leading role in, Jewish town-affairs.

In the houses of study, the authoritative people were the gabbais. They were also leading figures in matters outside the bes midrash.



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