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The MANDELs of Lyakhovichi (Lechovich) & the 1784 Lithuanian Census
Mevasseret Zion, Israel
© September 2006
In the 1784 Lithuanian Census of Jews registered in the Kahal (Jewish Community) of Lyakhovichi
(= Lechovich), there is one inconspicuous line regarding a family of Lechovich Jews living in the nearby
village of Sakuny.
In simple English (rather than bureaucratic Polish), it reads: "Sakuny: [Head of household] Moshe, his wife Leah, his daughter Devorah and his sons, Wolf and Hirsh, 5 total."
That single line, that single entry, encapsulates the 18thCentury "pre-history" of the MANDEL Family from
Lechovich, whose 19th and 20th Century history has been extensively researched.
For several years, it had been evident that there were two parallel branches of MANDEL's from Lechovich,
one headed by a Wolf and the other by a Hirsh whose father was Moshe. However, the exact relationship
between these branches was difficult to determine and certainly impossible to document. The 1784
Lithuanian Census resolved the puzzle and tied the two branches together, elegantly and definitively. Wolf
and Hirsh were brothers, probably born in the 1760-70's. Their father was Moshe, probably born in the
As indicated, these two individuals were already known – as patronymics - from 19th Century Russian
documents (the area having fallen to Russian after the Third Partition of Poland in 1795). One of Hirsh’s
sons appeared in the 1816-19 Revision (Census) for Lechovich, as “Izroel, Girshovich Movshovich, Mandel”
– that is, with a double patronymic (somewhat unusual), taking him directly back to his grandfather Moshe
(in Sakuny). Wolf was given as the patronymic of Yankel Mandel, born ca. 1800, in an 1851
Supplementary Revision List for Lechovich. From the naming pattern of their offspring, it was absolutely
clear that these two Mandel branches in one small town were related. Now we know how.
Beyond that, despite many years of research, it was not known where the MANDEL family actually came
from. Arguably, they may have moved to Lechovich from elsewhere early in the 19th Century. The 1784
Census determined that they were not at all newcomers and that the Lechovich area was the "epicentre"
of the family at least from the 1780's, if not earlier.
Another thing was confirmed by the 1784 Census: the MANDELs were long-standing village Jews
("yeshuvnikes" in Yiddish) rather than town dwellers. Like at least 40% of Jews in the former Grand Duchy
at the time, the Mandels lived in a village, as many of them did subsequently, in the 19th Century as well.
They worked, more often than not, as blacksmiths and tavern or inn keepers. They were, in fact,
quintessential yeshuvnikes – and that’s what makes them interesting.
The following “bottom lines” can be drawn from the 1784 Census when combined with other information
known about the
*** As of now, we can document our family back over 250 years.
*** Our earliest known ancestor – the "patriarch" of the family, as it were - was one Moshe (or "Mowsza"
Movsha in Russian), born ca. 1745-50.
*** He resided in a village called Sakuny on the Sakuny Estate, about 3.75 kilometres NW of the town of
“as the crow flies.”
*** He had two sons, named Wolf (Vulf in Russian) and Hirsh (Hyrsz in Polish and Girsh in Russian.)
*** It was their children (Moshe’s grandchildren) who adopted the MANDEL surname in the first decade
of the 19th Century, following a Russian edict of December 1804.
*** All the Mandel's identified thus far (dead or alive) from our area, descend directly from Wolf and Hirsh
and, of course, from their father, Moshe.
*** There were Mandel's living in Lechovich and in the nearby town of Baranovich until they were, for the
most part, wiped out during World War II.
In brief, the 1784 Lithuanian Census crowned over 25 year’s research into the MANDEL family of Lechovich
and brought it to some sort of coherent, if not necessarily final, conclusion.
Director, International Institute for Jewish Genealogy (at Jewish National and Hebrew University Library, Jerusalem) since January, 2006. He is a Research Fellow at the Truman Institute and the Center for the Study of Christianity, both at Hebrew University and Lecturer in Diplomacy at Tel Aviv University.
Born in Scotland, 1938. Doctorate in Modern History from Oxford, 1965 (thesis published in book form by University of California Press, 1976, entitled "The Arabs and Zionism before World War I"). British Foreign Office, 1965-71. Israeli Foreign Ministry, 1973-2003 - served inter alia as Ambassador, Vatican (2000-03); Ambassador, United Nations, Geneva (1994-98); Liaison Officer to US Congress, DC (1985-89); Diplomatic Representative, Beirut (1982).
Dr. Lamdan is a seasoned Jewish genealogist, active since 1978. His current research focus: "Village Jews in 19th Century Minsk Gubernya - their life and times". Research experience: three in-depth visits to various archives in Belarus (1998, 2001, 2004), plus work in many other national and private archives in Israel, UK and US. Dr. Lamdan has written several articles for Avotaynu and has contributed scholarly notes on genealogy based on specialized studies, archival inventories and translations (from Yiddish) posted on Belarus and Lyakhovichi SIG's. Most recently Dr. Lamdan spoke at the 26th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in New York in 2006. His research languages include: English, Hebrew, Yiddish, French, Italian, German, Arabic.
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