Selling Chometz in Novoselice (1904)

What I like about this job is you never know what’s going to surface.  A woman wrote to me recently (Lara Diamond by name) telling of a an interesting old document she saw at a friend’s house and offered to photograph it.  She thought the group would be interested, since it had a list of names attached and was from Novoselice/Novoselitsa.  I agreed to have a look at it.

And this is what I present for you today:  A 1904 document written in cursive Yiddish, written by the Rabbi of Novoselice:   Yisrael Pesach son of Shalom Shachna Wetstein.  This was the great great grandfather of Lara’s friend.  The document apparently is the authorization for the sale of the town’s Chometz prior to Passover in 1904.  There is a list of names at the end of the document, that most likely are the assigned buyers.

Lara says:
“These are signatures so some are difficult to read. I did my best. I suggest you put the last page on Viewmate to get an independent eye on these.

The bottom of the first page is signed by the town’s rabbi (and my friend’s gg grandfather) Yisrael Pesach son of Shalom Shachna Wetstein.

Witness at the top of the second page (first page of the two-sided document) is Avraham Chaim son of Baruch Shvartzer.

There are names in the paragraph up at the top of the last page:

Yisrael Pesach son of Shalom Shachna
Malka daughter of Rei Renish
Moshe son of Meir Veinberg
Zaan Shaya Dibes
Sara Frankfeld
Shabsei Shvartzberg

Then the rest of the page are signatures. (First word of each line is “Signed.”)
Eliyahu (illegible)
Yitzchok Reitman and (illegible) Beleson
Nachum Gruldinberg and also his brother? Pesach and (illegible) Reb Anshel
Leib son of Zev Plumilman (illegible) Yona Yilarstein
Pinchas Babia
Henech Shvartzberg
Chaim Feitia Kapilivike
Avraham Chaim Sheishesh? And Matisya Varman?
(Illegible) Sara Mecharkle
(illegible) Yaakov Yosef Yazlivt
Shlomo Vanblakis??
Yosef Kantirzshna
Mechael Veinberg
Hersh Leib Shich? and his brother Yisrael Shich
Yisrael Nicherberg
Tzvi Gezner”

And for those who can… here is the document, hand written in Yiddish, [Correction –The document is written in cursive Hebrew not Yiddish as originally posted –see commnets below] in pdf format:


Lara notes: “There are two documents. One is one page and the other is 2 pages (on 2 sides of the page).
The first picture is an overview of the one pager. Then I have 3 close ups of that page.
Then an overview of each of the sides of the other. Then I zeroed in on a list of names (actually signatures).”

Jerome notes:
According to the CIA, there are over 25 towns in today’s Ukraine with the name Novoselista. Is this ‘our’ Novoselista at 48°13’00″N : 26°17’00″E ? I ran this by Yosi Eshet who didn’t think so. Lara thinks it is, and I have no idea. Maybe someone will recognize a name and we’ll have the answer?


4 thoughts on “Selling Chometz in Novoselice (1904)

  1. Lara

    I actually think it is the same town. I went to jewishgen and got to:

    I then went to the list of nearby towns on the right and clicked on Novoselytsya so it is the nearby one for sure. Then on the top right, click on the 1983 yizkor book, and then on the link to the translation. There is a list of martyrs there. On that list are several mbers of the “Watstein” family, including the an unnamed woman married to Peisi (the grandson of the Shlomo Pesach from the document), the rabbi’s wife.

  2. Irene Fishler

    Hi Jerome and Lara,

    This handwritten document is in perfect Hebrew.

    Yes, it was written in “our” Novaselitza on the Russian side.
    The last sentence says:

    “Signed today the 14th in the month of Nissan of the year 5674 in (
    town?) Novaselitz of Bessarabia on the border with Austria …”

    Only the geographic names are written with Yiddish orthography
    because the writing in Yiddish is phonetic ( this is a smart idea !)

    I believe ( after reading only a few half-sentences) that Lara’s
    document is a contract between the Jewish owners of barns and taverns,
    etc.. and the Chief Rabbi of the town who buys it all and then sells it to a Non-Jew.

    We have some experts in those matters on the List. I hope they could help.


  3. jerome

    Thanks very much Irene! I’m not sure how I got into my head that the documernt was in Yiddish in the first place. Probably it was my mistaken assumption that a Rabbi at the turn of the 19th/20th century in Europe would not write about everyday procedural things in Hebrew, the holy language, but would Yiddish instead

    But I did think that the evidence for which Novaselitsa the document refers to would be in the document itself, if I could have read it.

    Batting 50%, I am indebted to you for your seeing this thread through to the end!


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