Monday, February 28, 2022

From Dokshitz to Newport, America

From Dokshitz to Newport, America                                          At Jewish Newport                                                                    by Aaron Ginsburg also on facebook                                                                                         February 28, 2022

Rabbi Nathan Zalman Friedman was born in Dokshitz.  
He wrote several articles in the Gluboker Leben, a yiddish newspaper published in Glubokie, then in Poland. A partial translation of an article from March 4, 1932 follows. Thank you to Margarita Kozhenevskaya for finding it. 

Rabbi Nathan Zalman Friedman and his wife Dora nee Meirson settled in Newport, Rhode Island. In the 1930 US census in addition to English he spoke Jewish and his occupation was listed as Rabbi, industry as Hebrew teacher.

At the end of the article we learn that at Rabbi Friedman's wedding to Dvora Meirson the Rogatchover Rabbi Ilui officiated. I mentioned this to Rabbi Marc Mandel of Touro Synagogue, Newport, RI who told me that the Rogatchover was very prominent Talmud interpreter. You can learn more about him at

Rabbi Friedman's great grandson Bernie Friedman reports that his great grandfather, "retired in 1935 after 25 years of service to the Congregation. He was the chazzan, ritual slaughterer, teacher, and anything else the Rabbi delegated to him. He lived above my Grandfather’s [Bernard C Friedman] Dental Office. My dad would tell stories of his grandfather slaughtering the chickens in the basement and how exciting that was at the time. There was a tribute dinner to Nathan upon his retirement and a beautiful kiddush cup was given to him that we use today. There are photos of the tribute dinner."

From Gluboker Leben, 4 March 1932

Partial translation by Aaron Ginsburg 

Rav Nossin Friedman

From Dokshitz to Newport, America

The rabbis sent me out from Heder at the age of 16 years. I knew  the Talmud quite well, was a good baal Kore, was versed in the entire Talmud, and the Hebrew language, I learned math well, and had studied a bit of accounting. I spoke the Russian language fluently; my Polish language skills weren't bad. I also studied after that to take the chancellor's exam which I took in the Russian language. 

I had fine friends, helped my parents with their business and was familiar with the owners of the courtyards with which my parents used to do business. I also was active in public Tzedakah,  ?, talmud torah, bikur holim and Shul activities. 

We worked hard to collect money for bikur holim. Hevra went with charity boxes to different parts of town. I brought more money in than anyone else because each time I raised money from my cousins, about 40-50 people. I was a hero in collecting donations.  

I worked as a secretary in the Municipal government while my father was a magistrate? in the town.

In those times Jews were allowed to  stand for the government’s “Galileo'' exam and they did well. [discussion of other examinations and awards]

Overcoming my shyness, I became engaged in Dvinsk-Dinenberg to a beautiful woman from a large family, Dvora daughter of Reb Yishiyahu Meirson. who was born in Dokshitz and lived in Dvinsk-Dinenberg.  

Being in Dvinsk-Dinenberg to get married, I got to know  young people who were studying Russian from a teacher of Russian, a student in  the sixth class of the Realschule (name of school) which had given my bride a lecture in Russian.

I persuaded him to go to Dokshitz as a teacher and indeed I immediately brought him down to Dokshitz and all the young people of Dokshitz were enthusiastic and thanked me.

But the joy was not long away. It was seven weeks until my wedding on Erev Shavuot 1887. The entire town of Dokshitz was upset when the teacher had to depart for Glubokie. 

It was a second kind of learning… The teacher was named Robert Weiner. A few Glubokers must remember him. Today he is a famous  medical doctor in America in New York City, and still my good comrade and friend.

I had a big wedding in Dvinsk at a large hotel. Officiating at the kiddushin was the well-known rabbi from Dvinsk, the Rogatchover Rabbi Ilui. (to be continued)

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