Tuesday March 20, 2018

Known for 1986 Nuclear disaster, Chernobyl also has a deep Jewish Legacy

Jewish kids and teacher in Ukraine 1941. Image Source: Jewua.org

Chernobyl’ is small city located in keiv oblast in Ukraine where lot of big things have happened in the past. Chernobyl is city where 1986s catastrophic nuclear accident happened. This nuclear accident happened due to flawed reactor design that was operated with inadequately trained personnel.



But before all that Chernobyl was use be place Rabbinic Dynasty lived. It said that Markham Markham Twersky is the first twersky of the Dynasty. He was born around 1730 and came to Chernobyl in 1770s as preacher. Later Markham Markham became Chernobyl’s Rebbe.

“He wrote a book called ‘the light of the eyes’ is the foundation of the Hasidic ideology in those days” said Yitz Twersky, descendant of Twersky.

Markham Markham had 8 sons each then went to different Ukraine rabbinic chords there. This was the begging of the great rabbinic dynasties.

Until the middle of 20th century through the times of holocaust there was always a Twersky presence in Ukraine.

“My grandfather was the rebbe of a city in southern Ukraine. In 1941 when the german’s came in the city was bombed and everyone was gathered into a school” said Yitz Twersky

Entire jewish population was target by the Nazis including all the rebbe’s, intellectuals, doctors, lawyers, leaders. They were told that they will be moved into labour camps but instead they were massacred. Mass killing like these wiped out entire families. The twersky family in southern Ukraine also lost many members of their family.

Yitz twerksy’s father rebbe Yacob Josheph Twersky moved to the United States after surviving the second World War, the death of his parents and years in concentration camps.

“When I was in college , I was taken to rebbe’s funeral  then one led to another and I started researching who my family was , who were the people at the funeral, how we are related and that started a 30 years of introspection, learning lot of things about myself and twersky family. So I started at the New York public library where in those days they had phonebooks and I actually withdrew manually every phonebook, wrote down every twersky’s name and started making calls. And Started making family tree’s and searching other record books.” Said Yitz Twersky.

Over the last 30 years Yitz has been gathering his family history and searching for other descendants. According to Mr.Twersky’s estimate there are about 50,000 people wh belong to the twersk family.

“I have documented 25,000 people 15 years ago, I have stopped the documentation of the rabbenical  descendants. I kind of decided to marry and have five kids.” Said Yitz.

What unites all the known twersky descendant is their strong connection Chernobyl no matter how far they live.

-by Bhaskar Raghavendran

Bhaskar is a graduate in Journalism and mass communication and a reporter at NewsGram. Twitter handle: bhaskar_ragha


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Israeli Shepherdess Uses Modern Sheep Breed to Revive Ancient Shofar Sound

Shepherdess Jenna Lewinsky holds a lamb from the Jacob sheep breed, in Ramot Naftali, Israel, Feb. 21, 2018. VOA

The piercing note of a shofar – a ram’s horn used in Jewish religious ceremonies – cuts through the mountain air of the Galilee.

Here in northern Israel, shepherdess Jenna Lewinsky is raising a flock of Jacob Sheep, pictured here, as a religious calling.

With anything up to six horns on each animal, the breed is ideally suited for the manufacture of the horn traditionally blown during the Jewish New Year and the Day of Atonement, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.

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Jacob sheep stand in their barn in Ramot Naftali, Israel, Feb. 21, 2018. VOA

The spotted breed of Jacob Sheep was bred in England in the 17th and 18th centuries, and this flock was brought to Israel from Canada by Lewinsky in 2016.

But sheep have been recorded since antiquity across the Middle East, and the modern breed’s name echoes the ancient Biblical story from Genesis in which the patriarch Jacob took “every speckled and spotted sheep” as wages from his father-in-law, Laban.

Turning her flock’s horns into shofars is part of God’s plan, says Lewinsky, who calls herself a “traditional and God-fearing Jew.”

“The Jacob Sheep horns can probably be processed anywhere in the world but what makes the horns special is that we are processing them in Israel, which gives them a holiness,” she said.

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A print of an orthodox Jewish man sounding the Shofar, a ram’s horn, is seen on the shirt of Shofar maker Robert Weinger, in his workshop in Rishon Lezion, Israel, Feb. 27, 2018. VOA

Robert Weinger, a shofar-maker who works with the horns from Lewinsky’s farm, said that a ram’s horn made from the breed can sell for $500 to $20,000 or more, depending on its sound quality, as it produces a wider range of musical notes than other shofars. (VOA)