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VIZHAINY (VIZHUNY, VIZAN, VIZANY):

Russian town in the government of Suwalki. On Jan. 29, 1723, Moses Yefraimovich, an elder of the Grodno ḳahal, presented for entry in the municipal records of the city of Grodno the charter of privileges granted to the Jews of Vizhainy by King John III. The document was dated Cracow, Feb. 3, 1676, and was a confirmation of the privileges granted by King Michael at Warsaw Nov. 14, 1670. The king states in the latter that in consideration of the privileges granted to all the Jews living in the grand duchy of Lithuania by Ladislaus IV. at Warsaw Dec. 2, 1646, and confirmed by King John Casimir at the Cracow diet of Feb. 17, 1649, and in consideration also of the petition of the king's jeweler in Grodno, the Jew Isaac Faibishevich, acting in behalf of the Jews of Vizhainy, he, King Michael, promises to retain in force the rights of the said Jews in the possession of their houses, stores, and meat-markets, acquired by them in the past or to be acquired by them in the future, this applying also to their houses of prayer, cemeteries, and baths situated on land belonging to them and reserved for their own use. They are likewise accorded the right to sell liquor in their houses, to sell merchandise by weight or measure, and to sell meat in their butcher-shops to every Jewish artisan, provided they pay the proper tax on the cattle killed. Should the Jewish houses, stores, synagogue, meat-markets, or bath be destroyed by fire, the Jews retain the right to rebuild them. The Jewish artisans are given the right to pursue their avocations in accordance with the general privileges granted to the Jews of the grand duchy of Lithuania.

Further, the Jews of Vizhainy are exempted from municipal jurisdiction, but are subject to that of the local court, with the right of appeal to the king's tribunal. They may not be called to court on Saturdays or on other Jewish holy days; they may not be assessed in favor of the municipality (mir) and they are exempted from sentinel duty. They may not be made to do general work for their landlords, nor to supply conveyances, and shall be obliged only to pay the usual tax to the local court. In important matters they must take oath on the scroll of the Law, and in less important cases at the Ark, according to their Law. Suits concerning Jews alone are to be decided by their own elders according to Jewish Law. The Jews of Vizhainy are to have the right to use the town meadows for pasturing their cattle, and are permitted to make use of the neighboring woods on equal terms with the commoners of the town. In 1897 the population of Vizhainy numbered 2,274, mostly Jews.

Bibliography:
  • Entziklopedicheski Slovar;
  • Regesty i Nadpisi, i. 506.
H. R. J. G. L.
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