The Pale of Settlement and My Forebears

My paternal forebears, as late as the 1880s, lived in Russia’s Pale of Settlement. Per Wikipedia, “The Pale of Settlement included all of modern day BelarusLithuania and Moldova, much of Ukraine and Poland, and relatively small parts of Latvia and western Russian Federation,” I have read and heard my grandparents claimed Russia or Lithuania as their homeland. Though, as to my grandparent’s place of birth, my father’s death certificate says Russia.

They needed passports to move within the Pale. Many were tradesman or peddlers. They could not own land. They were the victim of pogroms. Their lives were typified in Fiddler on the Roof. Nonetheless, the rich families were given more freedom. Recall If I were a Rich Man by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick.

They had few marriage choices under the Pale restrictions and that’s why my paternal grandparents were cousins. The genetic pathology I bear, I suspect, is likely related to that lack of genetic diversity.

I appreciate how richly my family has been blessed with freedom here in the States. The oppression and Gulags of the Soviets have been avoided. On this, the 76th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, I also appreciate that my family has been spared. Thank God for HUGE favors.