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BORODAVKA, or BRODAVKA, ISAAC:

Lithuanian farmer of taxes and distillery privileges; lived in the sixteenth century at Brest-Litovsk. He is first mentioned in a grant issued by King Sigismund August, Jan. 1, 1560, to David Shmerlevich of Brest-Litovsk, and his partners, Isaac Borodavka and Abraham Dlugach, entitling them, for the term of seven years, to collect the duties on goods and merchandise passing through Minsk, Wilna, Novgorod, Brest, and Grodno. For this theywere required to pay into the royal treasury 6,808 copes annually. During Easter of the following year Borodavka, among others, was granted the salt monopoly for seven years, and several weeks later, on Saint Margaret's day (June 27), the king signed an edict permitting Borodavka and Jacob Dlukgach to build breweries in Byelsk, Narva, and Kleschtscheli. They were to be sole brewers for these towns until Jan. 1, 1566, when the breweries built by them were to be delivered to the king. They were also to pay into the royal treasury 60 copes each year.

Borodavka and his partners were unpopular among their Polish competitors, who were covetous of the same "privileges"; and this enmity, fed and encouraged by race prejudice, was not slow in manifesting itself in acts injurious to the Jews. On Sept. 10, 1565, David Schmerlevich and Isaac Borodavka succeeded in wresting the lease holdings in Volhynia from the Christian farmers Borzobogaty by offering to the crown 600 copes a year in excess of the amount paid by the latter. One of the Borzobogatys and a certain Zagorovski appear as the principal witnesses in a claim preferred by Prince Yanush Andrushovich, bishop of Lutzk and Brest, against Schmerlevich and Borodavka for unlawfully collecting taxes from his subjects, the commoners of Torchin, Volhynia.

Decrees were repeatedly issued by the crown urging the subjects of the king to assist in every way the royal farmers of taxes and their "servants" in the collection of duties on goods and of royalties on distilleries. These decrees, or "universals," were invariably the reply of the crown to the complaints of Isaac Borodavka and other Jewish leaseholders that "goods were carried up and down the rivers Bug, Mukhavetz, Bobyer, and Narew," past the established custom-houses, and no duty paid. This mutual animosity led even to acts of violence. Abraham Dlukgach was mercilessly beaten and robbed by the "servants" of the widow of Ivan Bogovitonovich Kozirutski. David Schlomich, "servant" of Schmerlevich and Borodavka, was cruelly beaten and robbed by the "servants" of Peter Chekhoski, another farmer of taxes.

Very soon there were accusations of shedding innocent Christian blood. In Narva, Byelsk, and Rosokhi, "servants" of the tax-collectors were accused of murder. The most rigid investigation proved these accusations to be groundless; not, however, before one of the accused had paid for them with his life.

In the records for July 13, 1564, it is stated that the royal chamberlain, Andrei Rozhnovski, an eye-witness of the hanging of Bernat Abramovich at Byelsk, deposes that he had heard the doomed man solemnly declare (on the gallows), before the face of his God, that he had not killed any little girl at Narva, nor received any orders for assassination from his master, Isaac Borodavka; and that Yezoph, his comrade and companion in misfortune, then under arrest in the castle, was not guilty of the crime, but had made a confession of guilt to the authorities in the prison because he could not endure the torture of being burned with candles. He furthermore asserted that their accusers desired thus to revenge themselves upon Borodavka. Thereupon King Sigismund August, by special decree (1564), ordered that in the future all such accusations against the Jews should be laid before him for his personal examination, the accused in the mean time to be exempt from torture.

Two years later Nakhim, another "servant" of Isaac Borodavka, and the subcollector of taxes in Rosokhi, or Rososhi, was accused of the murder of a Christian child. A second decree of the king (1566), entered on the records, required that all Jews accused of murdering Christians or of defiling the Eucharist should be brought to him for trial, and the accused were to suffer the penalty of the crime, in the event of their failure to prove the accused guilty, according to the accepted practise of legal procedure. Ten years later (1576) King Stephen Báthori confirmed the Jews, his subjects ("who tarry in our dominions, the great dukedom of Lithuania"), in the rights and privileges granted them by Sigismund August.

Bibliography:
  • Russko-Yevreiski Arkhiv. ii., Nos. 72, 92, 140, etc.;
  • Regesty, Nos. 514, 523, etc.
H. R. M. Z.
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