The Russian-American Genealogical Archival Service (RAGAS) was established in 1992 to open files in the former Soviet Union for family history and promote the free exchange of genealogical records. I submitted a request for a full genealogical search on my grandfather, Azriel Ajzenberg and was assigned file number 000055 (probably one of the first by the new organization). I chose Azriel because I had information on his parents, siblings and children. Scanning three generations should make the search easier.
In December 1992, RAGAS sent an encouraging form letter update indicating that they now had a close collaboration with the central archive in Minsk, Belarus. In June 1993 another hopeful letter arrived, but still no information. Two months later a third letter arrived. This one was specific.
"We have received a report from AROS concerning your request to link several generations of the Azriel Ajzenberg family (# 000055) of Telekhany, Belarus. We think you will be pleased with the results.
The archivists searched the National Archives of Belarus as well as census lists of the township of SVYATAYA VOLYA and were able to find records for many people with the name of AIZENBERG or EISENBERG dating from 1834 until 1914. Many are possibly related to the family in which you are interested and may aid you in your genealogical research. As you perhaps know, many records for Belarus were destroyed or lost during WW II, so it is exciting when we have this type of response."
I greeted this news with mixed emotions. I was pleased that something was found. Even though it was not what I specifically requested, it could prove valuable. A number of things troubled me. The name was spelled, AIZenberg rather than AJZenberg and the cost of the research was expensive. Most disquieting was that in all my research I had not heard of SVYATAYA VOLYA. I had no idea where it was located, specifically in reference to Telechan. I wrote to RAGAS raising these issues.
In the interim I looked up SVYATAYA VOLVA, known as SWIETA WOLA in Polish. It is approximately 38 miles NW of Pinsk. Telechan, 31 miles NW of Pinsk is due east of SVYATAYA VOLVA. I estimate that the two towns are only 7 miles apart. That is close.
In November 1993 I heard from RAGAS again.
"We asked AROS in Moscow for a response to your questions, September 9. They responded, we trust the qualifications of the archivists in Minsk. Because of this we are unable to improve their work in this request. Therefore, this particular reply is the only information we are able to secure.
"It is not possible for RAGAS staff to analyze your family information with any degree of understanding or accuracy. We have enclosed sample pages of the 17 PAGE REPORT of the records which archivists in Minsk spent 55 HOURS searching. The AROS staff prepared the report and made the translation. If you wish to write to them directly the address is:
AROS Society Ltd. 15 Pushkinskaya Ul.
103821 Moscow, Russia."
The 4 “sample pages” I received only added to my uncertainty. Although many Eisenbergs were identified, none were familiar to me. I left the matter at that point and decided not to pursue it further.
Six years later (May 1999) I contacted a second researcher, Oleg Perzashkevich, Director of the Minsk Historical Genealogy Group. He too identified SVYATAYA VOLVA as the home of many Eisenbergs and suggested that they were related to the TELECHAN Eisenbergs. Oleg informed me that there was “no official Jewish community in Telekhany before 1880” although there may have been some Jews in Telekhany before that time. Clearly he believes that my family came from SVYATAYA VOLYA. If his research proves accurate I will be able to trace my Eisenberg family back to the mid 1700’s. I never dreamed this could be possible.
The results of this new information will have to wait until the next edition of this book.
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