Eighth stop - Kreve, Belarus, home of the Abramsons and Bermans
In about 1847 my paternal great great grandmother, Shima Abramson was born in Kreva, the eldest of five daughters, Shayna Fruma (Fanny), Chana (Anna), Shalveh (Sylvia), Bayla Malka (Molly) and a son, Zvi Yitsak. Shima married Baruch Berman and gave birth to Sarah Rifka, Lena, Bessie and Joseph. Shima died in 1883 when Sarah was about 12 years old. Within the year Baruch had married Dora Rosenberg and had two sons, Peisach (Philip) and Alter (Adolph). When Sarah was about 18 she emigrated to New York City and soon met and married Mayer Klausner. Sarah's mother's sisters, Shayna Fruma and Chana, came about the same time and her other aunts Shalveh and Bayla Malka arrived around 1900. All of the aunts settled in Rochester, New York.
About a month after we returned from our trip I was doing more research on the Bermans because Philip Berman's eldest daughter, Alissa, had recently died. I found the manifest from the ship that carried Dora Rosenberg Berman and her son Alter when they came to the US in 1906. It said that they had resided in a place called Wolosne. It turns out that it is Valoshyn, a town about 20 miles from Kreve. It's possible that Baruch was born there and that Shima went to live there when she married. I'm looking forward to a return trip to Belarus to visit Valoshyn.
You can view some of the documents from my research about the Abramsons.
We drove north from Minsk to the tiny village of Kreve (once again, I've used the Yiddish name for the place now called Kreva), we made our final stop in Belarus. Kreve is even smaller than the shtetls of Żołynia and Lohishin, despite being the site of the Kreva Castle where the Act of Kreva, uniting Poland and Lithuania, was signed in 1385. Kreve's layout is similar to the other shtetls we visited with the synagogue just off the village square and the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches a bit further away. For some reason, the walls of the synagogue, with its large Star of David, are still standing and the building housing the mikveh is still intact.
At the Castle ruins we met two members of the Bondarenko family, local clay and metal artisans who are trying to increase cultural knowledge and encourage tourism to the area by constructing a 1:10 scale model of the Castle. Kreve is still known for the quality of its clay. More about this project here, here and here.
The cemetery is not too far away, down a dirt road in a small stand of trees. Interestingly, it has stones of people buried there as late as 1979. Did Jewish survivors return to live in Kreve after the war or did they live elsewhere and request that their bodies to be placed in final rest in their birthplace? These newer graves were in an area that was maintained; on either end the forest had encroached and the stones were largely covered with leaves and branches. Walking among the stones was almost impossible.
Katya and our driver took us to the train station in Maladzyechna where we said good bye before taking off for Vilna, Lithuania.
Other sites about Kreve:
Krevo - includes a photograph of the synagogue with its roof still intact.
International Jewish Cemetery Project - Kreva