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Old News Articles about Wysokie-Litewskie
The Murder of Y. Rabinowitz by Y. Meller (2)
The following passage is taken from "Hamelitz" no. 251, pages 2669 - 2670, printed December 8th 1887. The heading of this section of the newspaper is Deeds Done Every Day. The subtitle is: In Our Country. The first paragraph is about St. Peterburg and following that to the end is about Visoky Litovsk.
Visoky Litovsk (p. [district] Horodno) 20th of November. A most horrible murder was committed that shattered all who heard of it: A Jewish man murdered his friend and benefactor who treated him like a brother and, as if he were one of the murderers who ambush their innocent victims on the roads.Subsequent articles about this incident appeared here (in theatrical language), and here.
This is how it happened: In our town lived an honored man about 30 years of age by the name of Yaakov Rabinovitsh, stepson of the important and renowned R' Meir Friedland. This man was a scholar and a perfect person in his behavior, was great in Torah learning, knew many languages, and had great general knowledge. All who knew him – loved him.
Another man, Y. Meller who was disliked by everybody, became close to him. People wondered why Yaakov Rabinovitsh chose to favor this disliked person. Only the people close to Rabinovitsh knew how good hearted and merciful Rabinovitsh was, justified him saying that because of his compassion to the man and his family he favored the man. This Meller stayed all the time in Rabinovitsh'e house and almost all day long until midnight he was close to him also playing chess with him.
On that particular day he stayed with Rabinovitsh after 2 a.m. and when all the people in the house, including Rabinovitsh were asleep, he murdered him with a small axe that he had in his hand, hitting him about 10 times on his head. He also chopped his benefactor's fingers of the right hand. The maid heard Rabinovitsh screaming --the wife was not at home that night-- and sprang out of her bed. The murderer attacked her as well and hurt her head seriously. Rabinovitsh's 4 children woke up because of the girl's screams and started screaming themselves. The murderer ran for his life to his own house. At 4 a.m., when the news of the murder was known in town, the friends of the murdered man (and I among them as his close friend) called the doctor in the hope that he may revive the man.
When we arrived in the house we found R. bleeding and still with some breath in him, but we could not draw any words from him. Only from the girl we knew who the murderer was. In the beginning we did not trust her story because it did not occur to our minds that a man whose livelihood depended on Rabinovitsh would murder him. However, when she repeated the story again and again, and the children confirmed that she told the truth, the murderer was caught in his house before he could change his clothes, which showed many stains of blood. However the axe and 225 rubles that he stole were not found. Now, it has been established that two weeks before the murder, the murderer prepared the instrument of death to murder his benefactor. The murder has not yet admitted his guilt, but strong evidence attest to his spilling innocent blood.
Rabinovitsh died 10 a.m. and the maid, who is still fighting for her life. may be beyond hope. On Sunday, an autopsy was performed in front of the clerks of the town and before evening R. was buried. All shops closed on that day and all inhabitants of the town accompanied him to the cemetery – old and young – mourning and crying bitterly for this righteous and most beloved man who died untimely. God will comfort us all and will not let another such murder - that puts us to shame - occur …
-- The writer, with sorrowful soul, Eliezer Eilbert