In 1913, our grandmother, Bessie Rapoport Schechter, left the small shtetl of Kholmech (in present-day Belarus), crossed the ocean, and entered the United States through Ellis Island. Her story is recounted in the book, Bessie’s Letters.

In early July, 2001, a researcher and photographer hired by Dan and Bill Schechter traveled to Kholmech, a town once derided by one of Grandma Bessie’s sisters as “the back of the beyond.” This trip followed a long period of negotiation, hampered by distance and a language barrier. We wanted to know what the town was like today, what had happened to its Jewish population during WWII, and what evidence of Jewish life–and the history of the Rapoports–remained. In addition, we wanted photographs taken of the town, and of the Jewish cemetery if there still was one. Prior to the visit, the researchers had been busy in the State Archives in Minsk to see what they could learn about our family there.

Herein the reader will find the report, the photographs, and, lastly, the archival research about our family.

On July 28, 2001, the photographs and the report arrived. The archival results came several weeks later. All of these can be found in this book. They appear as I received them, with a bare minimum of editorial comment.

Here is Kholmich in history. Here is Kholmich today. Here is one of your hometowns, your shtetl. Here is what we learned.

Bill Schechter
August, 2001

All written material © Bill Schechter, 2016
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