Anatolij Iljich Chayesh
Biographical and genealogical data
Chapter 1. Etymology and Prehistory
The translation from Russian was done by Olga Muranova
Family legends about the family name.
father Ilja Chayesh:
“About our family name
“Chayesh”. This is a Hebraic word. I am not very sure about its meaning as I
know that language only a little: it didn’t have practical meaning for me. On
the one hand this word means “life”. Besides, somebody says that this surname can
be translated into Russian as “Zverev”.
There are some similar or even the same family names: Chaes, Chais, in the
Hebraic variant – Chajojs”
“Probably, the surname
“Chayesh” with the ending “sh” was invented by my father Lejzer. He liked to
My second cousin Daniel Chajuss
“At the times of Vilenskij
Gaon or a little bit earlier 4 brothers lived: Zeev-Vulf, Arje-Lejb, Dov-Ber
and Tsvi-Girsh, who were fighting against Hasidism together with Gaon. As these
proper names are the names of the certain beasts – wolf, lion, bear and deer,
the representatives of Hasidism gave the brothers their common nickname
“beasts” – “hajot” in Hebrew
Spelling of the Family Name
years I had known only the Russian spelling of our family name:
as my father never wrote it in Hebrew, my
mother had another family name, and I’ve never seen my father’s parents.
At the end of the 1970-ies, when I started researching my family
history, I found an earlier Russian variant in the reference book “Vsja
Rossija” by the year 1895:
There are some earlier variants:
In 1997 Daniel Chajuss showed me a published copy of the letter written
in 1897 by Mates himself – our common great-grandfather – in his personal post
Finally, in 1997 and in 1998 I received census lists compiled at the
beginning of the previous century from the same archive. There my ancestors are
registered in the following way:
Having learned German at school I certainly tried to write my family
name in that language:
Later my son Sergey did the same when he was learning English:
Besides, when he became adult he used this
variant of spelling for the English variant of his visit cards.
On page 149 of the 8th volume of the “Evrejskaja
Entsiklopedija” I read that a person bearing the same surname, who in 1900
published the book “Beiträge zur nordsemitische Onomatologie” in Vienna,
displayed his family name in the following way:
This surname is spelled in the same way in the 7th volume of
the “Encyclopaedia Judaica”, published in English in Jerusalem in 1972.
In 1993 I sent my first article to the American magazine “Avotaynu”.
There it was translated into English. The author’s name was written there in
the following way:
I liked this variant because of the following reasons. First of all, in
the only extant document with the personal signature of my grandfather Lejzer, dated
the 8th of February, 1941 he signed his name in the following way:
That is his surname begins
with “Ch”. It’s difficult for me to perceive this “unpronounceable” combination
of letters “Kh”. Therefore when I write my family name with the Latin letters I
always resort to the variant “Chayesh”.
Some of my American acquaintance pointed out that this variant of spelling
was wrong. My son Sergey doesn’t accept this variant either. Their arguments
seemed to be quite cogent. However, my second cousin living in Israel – Doctor
of Science Daniel Chajuss – and his cousin Tsilja write their family name in
Dr. P. Jacobi who was occupied with researching genealogy of the old
Ashkenazi family names in 1994 spells it in the following way:
Professor from Harvard Tsvi Grilihes with whom
I have been corresponding during several years before the moment of his
untimely death sent me an article from the magazine “Science”, Vol. 279, 27
February 1998. On page 1294 there is a photo displaying Jennifer Chayes from
the USA, who is one of the leading experts of the company Microsoft. In June
1998 I received the scientific translation of the Jewish document of 1924
in which the surname of my grandfather is written in this way:
All this makes quite doubtful the fact that the
combination of letters “Kh” can be equal to the Russian letter “Х” in our family name.
The compatriot of my grandfather Lejzer Fajvl Josifovich Zagorsky was
the first who showed me in 1983 how to spell this surname in Hebrew. He
represented it in the following way:
However, only ten years later I could understand what he had depicted –
when I began to learn Yiddish and when I learned the Jewish letters.
In the LVIA some documents have been preserved. There our family name is
presented in a number of different variants:
One of the experts in the etymology of the
Jewish surnames Alexander Bejder considers that such surnames as Khaes (Khaesh)
and other similar family names come from the name Khaya (“khaye” in Yiddish).
Its original Old Hebrew form sounds as “hajoh’” that means “life”. Sometimes
this name was given as a means of protection to the sickly children or to those
of them who were seriously ill. He uses the following transliteration of the
surname Chayes (Chayesh): Khaes (Khaesh)
In the “Meorei Galicia: Encyclopedia of Galician Rabbis and Scholars”
, published by Prof. Meir Wunder
in Jerusalem in 1981 we can read the following:
“The Chajes family traces to Rashi and Shefatje, the son of Tsar David
. One brunch of that family
was expatriated from Portugal to Italy, the other one came to be among the
“representatives of Hasidism of Provence”. After the proscription of the Jews
from France in 1306 one of the outcast families settled in Prague. Rabbi Avraam
– the ancestor of the Chajes family in Central and Eastern Europe – lived
there. His son rabbi Itshak was born in 1538 in Poznan
, and his sister was the wife
. Since 1568 rabbi Itshak was
the rabbi of Busk
. Since 1584 he was the head
of the rabbinic court. After that he became the rabbi of Prosnitsa – Prustitsa
in Meharin – till the moment of his death approximately on Tammuz 11, 1610”.
M. Wunder enumerates the sons of Itshak Chajes: Avraam, Eliezer-Chaim,
Menahem-Manes and Shmuel-Shinna. Besides, he points out four most important
books written by Itshak including the book “Penej Itshak”, containing the laws
of the slaughter of cattle. It was published in Krakov in 1591. Among Itshak’s
sons Menahem-Manes is especially interesting for us. M. Wunder gives the
following data about him:
“The son of rabbi Itshak rabbi Menahem-Manes was born in Prague in 1560.
He served as the rabbi of Turbin-Chebinya, and then – of Shidlov
. Since 1617 he became one the
first rabbis in Vilna – till the moment of his death, on Monday, Ijar 8, 1636…
His elegy about the fire in Poznan
and the death of his brother Shmuel was published along with the book written
by his father – “Penej Itshak” – in Prague in 1590… The manuscript of his work
“Dereh Temimim” which presents his commentary on the story about Balak is kept
in the library in Bodlean. His commentary on the puzzles of Avraam Ibn Ezra
with mathematical exercises is kept there too”
Thus the ancestors of the Chajes family removed from France to Czechia
and then – to Poland. It’s important to emphasize that Menahem-Manes Chajes
died in Lithuania.
Figure 1. The tombstone of Menachem-Mansh Hayes
In the book about the Jewish residents of Vilnius “Lithuanian Jerusalem”
an old city cemetery in
is described. Besides, in this
book there is published a photo: “The oldest tombstone: the grave of the Rabbi
of Vilna Menachem-Mansh, the son of Itzhak Hayes. 1636”
. The text says: “The gaon is
buried here. Today waters have covered us because we sinned. The crown has fallen
from our head because we sinned. His pure soul disappeared after the angel’s
kiss. It happened on the 25th of Ijar, by the end of the day when
the sun had already set”. In April 1919 the monument was destroyed by the
Polish legionary who had captured Vilnius.
M. Wunder mentions three sons of Menachem-Mensh in his book: Jacob,
Shimshon who died in Belgrade in 1655 on the way to Palestine and Pinhas. He
also gives some data about their best-known offspring. None of them lived in
Lithuania. Thus the time lag between Menachem-Mansh Hayes who died in Vilna in
1636 and Jankel Chajes (Chajs) whose belonging to our family was considered to
be authentic earlier and who was born not later than in 1755 is equal to 120
years. Therefore we don’t know if he was a descendant of Menachem-Mansh or just
a person with the same family name.
Dr. P. Jacobi ascribes the origin of our family name to the period
between 1515-1590. So it was 16 generations ago if we consider our generation
to be the last
I managed to find some documents which contain information about our
ancestors, beginning from the 8th generation if we consider our
generation to be the last. The data about our most distant ancestors are scant,
monotonous and not very reliable as they are taken from the archival documents
written according to the set pattern. As it will be shown below when such
documents were being filled different distortions and inexactitudes were often
made there. Therefore different interpretations of these data are possible. As
a rule they are given in the footnotes.
All the next chapters are dedicated to the reproduction of the data
about the preceding generations of our family, which I have collected. These
data are presented in the form of so called genealogical chronicle. At first
it’s quite boring to read it. However, such chronicle is necessary for the
serious researches. For those readers who are less interested in it we
recommend not to read its monotonous details very attentively at the very
beginning because gradually the material presented here will become more vivid
and richer in interesting biographical facts.
Chayesh Ilja Lazarevich.
Memories. P. 1.
See in the same source, P.
135. My father expressed this opinion on the 10th of March, 1987
when I finished reading him my finds about the family name “Хаiесъ” from the 15th volume of the Evrejskaja Entsyklopedija (Jewish Encyclopedia). Saint
Petersburg, 1908 – 1913.
Chajuss Daniel. Story
is quite extensive literature on the fight of Vilenskij Gaon against Hasidism.
We shouldn’t not except that it’s possible to find some data there which would
confirm this legend and which would extend our knowledge about the four
brothers. However, as this literature is written mostly in Hebrew it’s not
available for me.
Vsja Rossija. Russkaja kniga
promyshlennosti, torgovli, sel’skogo hosjajstva i administratsii.
Adres-kalendar’ Rossijckoj imperii (The Whole Russia. The Russian book of industry,
trade, agriculture and management. The Address-Calendar of the Russian Empire).
– Edition of A. S. Suvorin – Saint-Petersburg, 1895 – The second section. –
The State Historical Archive
LVIA. F. 1226. Ap. 1. B. 1990. L. 64 v., 111 v. Its Xerox copies are in the
author’s archive, the first of them is presented in Chapter 2, figure 8.
אהרן חיות. ששים ושלש שנה בירושלים. דפוס סלומון
Aaron. 63 years in Jerusalem. Printing-house “Solomon”) – P. 36. The year and
the place of its publication are not indicated.
Jacobi Paul J.. The
486 “Chapters” on Jewish (mostly Ashkenasic) Families. Prepared by
Jerusalem, April 1994. ‑ “Chapter” #148. Chayuth (-Chajes) // Materials
of the Fourth International Seminar on Jewish Genealogy. Jerusalem
29.04.1994 ‑ 5.05.1994.
Zeimelis, Posvol Uezd: “List
of Jewish Taxpayers, 1920 ‑1924”. Source: YIVO Lithuanian Jewish Communities
Collection, 1844-1940, Folder 433. Obtained by: Barry Mann. Translated by:
Prof. G.L. Esterson.
LVIA. F. 728. Ap. 1. B. 593.
L. 1 v., recorded by rabbi Ajzik Spektor.
LVIA. F. 1226. Ap. 1. B. 465.
L. 9, recorded by rabbi Beniamin Grin.
In the same source. B. 1225.
In the same source. B. 1227.
In the same source. B. 1990.
L. 75, sign manual of headman М. Хаiесъ, my great-grandfather.
Beider Alexander. Dictionary
of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire. Avotaynu, Inc. Teaneck NY,
1993. P. 299. Below there is presented a copy of the article “Khain” which is
taken from this book; the article contains commentaries on the family name
Rabbi Meir Wunder. Meorei
Galicia: Encyclopedia of Galician Rabbis and Scholars. Vol. II.
Jerusalem 5742 (1981). P.1031 ‑ 1053. Here it is quoted according to the
translation from Hebrew, done by M. Nosonovsky by request of A. I. Chayesh. The
translation is kept in my family archive.
The maternal descent is
described in the article by Tauber Laurence The (Maternal) Descent of Rashi published in the American magazine Avotaynu, Vol. IX, 1993, Nb. 2 pp.
32-33. In the same issue of the magazine the critical essay by David Einsiedler
From King David – Part II pp. 34 ‑ 36) is published. It says about
insufficient scientific validity of all the attempts of different people to
ascribe their origin to King David. In the article there are numerous
references to the sources which are written mainly in Hebrew that is not
available for me. However, some of them were written in German. In the article
Shefatje who according to the Talmud was the son of Abital is mentioned. 16
generations of his descendants had the title “nasi”.
Poznan is one of the oldest
Polish cities with rich history. Since the beginning of the XVI century the
Jewish community of Poznan played a leading role in Great Poland. The position
of rabbi in that century was occupied by the prominent rabbis: Samuil
Margaliot, Liva ben Betsalel and Mordehaj Jaffe (for more details, see Evrejskaja
Entsyklopedija. Vol. XII. Column 655 – 662).
Maharal – Liva (Leve) ben
Betsalel – a famous Talmudist and scientist who was the son of rabbi Betsalel
ben Haiim, the brother of the chief rabbi of the German communities – rabbi
Jacob Worms. He was born in Worms (?) approximately in 1512, he died in Prague
in 1609. For a long time he had been the chief rabbi of Prague. Voluminous
scientific literature and many folk legends are available. The Czech writer
Aloiz Irasek cited one of them in his story Prazhskoe Getto (Prague
Getto) // Irasek Aloiz. Sochinenija (Selected Works). Vol.
1. M. 1955. P. 211 – 216). The grave of Maharal has been preserved in the Old
Jewish Cemetery in Prague. Its photo is presented in the book by Volavkova Hana.
Schicksal des Jüdischen Museums in Prag. 1965 “Artia” Praha. P. 275.
For more details, see Evrejskaja Entsyklopedija. Vol. X.
Column 194-195 (all the books named above are in my library).
Busk – a town (since 1411)
and a district center in Lvov region (the Ukraine). In the XVI – XVIII centuries it was
included into the province of Belz as a part of Rech Pospolitaya. The town is
located somewhere in the middle of the way between Lvov and Brod’y. In Galicia
the best-known representatives of the gender were born: Isaak ben Jacob Chajes
(in 1726 in Skala), Tsebi-Girsh ben Meir Chajes (in 1805 in Brod’y), Tsevi
Perets Chajes (in 1876). The articles about them are presented in Evrejskaja
Entsyklopedija. Vol. XV. Columns 500-502 and investigation of Meir
Wunder (see below).
At the time of Rech
Pospolitaya Shidlov was a small town on the territory of Sandomirsky povet (an
administrative unit in Poland practically equal to the province (“uyezd”) in
Russia – the translator’s comment) of
Visla district. Jews could be found there as early as in the XVI century.
On June 11, 1590 in Poznan 75
Jewish houses, the synagogue and about 80 Torah manuscripts were burnt to the
ground (Evrejskaja Entsyklopedia. Vol. XII. Column 657).
Rabbi Meir Wunder, in the
Ran Leyzer. Jerusalem
of Lithuania. New-York, 1974.
“According to the legend the
cemetery was founded in 1487. The first authentic finds date from 1592. The
cemetery was closed by the governor in 1830; it remained the historic monument
of the sages and eminent figures of Lithuanian Jerusalem. The cemetery was
destroyed by instructions of the Soviet authorities in 1955”. The same source.
In the same source. P. 101.
The cognation of our family name with Menachem-Mansh Hayes hasn’t been
officially established, but the chances of it are good as this surname is rare
and it has been mentioned in the documents of Vilenskaya province at least
The 125 oldest Ashkenazi
families and their progenitors from generation No. 43 (705 ‑ 780) to generation
No. 15 (1545 ‑ 1620). Supplement to Jacobi Paul J. The 486 “Chapters”… In 1994 the
research of our family name carried out by Dr. Jacobi hasn’t been finished yet.
Up to the present I am not familiar with it.