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Summary

Province:inne / wileńskie (before 1939)
County:Гарадзенска bобласьц [obwód grodzieński], Астравецкі раён [rejon ostrowiecki] / (before 1939)
Community:Міхалішкі / Michaliszki (before 1939)
Other names:Міхалішкі [j.białoruski]; Михалишки [j.rosyjski]
מיכאַלישאָק[j.jidysz]
מיכלישקי[j.hebr.]
 
GPS:
54.8046° N / 26.1488° E
54°48'16" N / 26°08'55" E

Location

M. Leszczyńska

Michaliszki – wieś gminna na północno-zachodniej Białorusi, rejon Ostrowiec, obwód grodzieński. Odległa 30 km na północny wschód od Ostrowca, 166 km na północny zachód od Mińska, 267 km na północny wschód od Grodna. Dystans do granicy z Litwą wynosi zaledwie 27 km. Leży nad Wilią.

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History

M. Leszczyńska /

As described in The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life... in 1765 there were 396 tax-paying Jews in Michaliszki.

The owner of the village, Ksawery Kotwicz, believed that the presence of Jews would benefit this area, so he allowed the Jews to buy 1-acre plots of lands and live off farming. Most of the incomers purchased land and used it to grow fruit, potatoes and other vegetables. Some had also cows, goats or a horse. Others traded in timber and linen or became craftsmen.

In the eighties of the 19 c., the Jews were already the majority of the local population.  A Jewish cemetery was established somewhere in the first decades of the 18 c. (the oldest tombstone inscription dates back to 1738).

In 1877, a synagogue was opened, there was also a big Beit Hamidrash and Cheders there.

The first rabbi of the local community was Jehuda Lejb Karelitz. He served for about 60 years until his death in 1880. The next rabbis were Jehuda Lejb Gordon, then Szabtaj Mordechaj Feinberg (died 1909). In 1897, 951 of 1224 inhabitants of Michaliszki were Judaist .

During the First World War, Michaliszki was bombed and many houses were levelled down. Most Jews run away from the village but returned soon. The Germans occupied Michaliszki for 3 years, they confiscated horses and cattle, while the local people had to give them produce from their farms. Poverty came to the village.

When the war ended, the inhabitants of Michaliszki started to rebuild their village. The local Jews received some help from abroad. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee opened a local kitchen for orphans and the poor, while YEKOPO [acronym of the Russian Jewriejskij komitet pomoszczy żertwam wojny – The Jewish Committee for the Relief of War Victims, established in Russia after the war started, in order to provide help to the Jews who suffered during the war – ed.] in 1919 constructed 3 houses for homeless families, along with a new bath house.

In 1922, Michaliszki returned to Poland. The local life started to get back to normal, shops, workshops and market stalls were opened, although the economic situation of the town never fully recovered to the prewar status.

Small Jewish traders from Michaliszki had to compete with a Polish cooperative which received financial support from the government. Polish farmers started to resign fr

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