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Casebook: Jack the Ripper - Message Boards » Suspects » Ostrog, Michael » A new line of research « Previous Next »

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Chris Scott
Chief Inspector
Username: Chris

Post Number: 895
Registered: 4-2003
Posted on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 3:31 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

In looking at the elusive Michael Ostrog, I decided to find out what I could about the origin of the name.
I worked from 3 premises:
1) Michael Ostrog was almost certainly not his birth name
2) the only definite record I have found for him (1881 census as a convict) his birthplace is given as Russia/Poland
3) there was a strong possibility that he was Jewish in origin

Looking at the name Ostrog, two possibilities came quickly to mind:
1) It may be a punning, mocking refernce to the fact that one of the meanings of the Russian word Ostrog is a jail, or, by extension, a convict
2) he may have taken his main pseudonym from his plave of origin. There is city called Ostrog in what is now the Ukraine which was for many centuries the centre of a strong Jewish presence.

The city of Ostrog is known by various names, which may lead to new name search possibilities:

Ostrog in Russian, Ostrig in Ukrainian, Ostróg in Polish, Ostra in Yiddish and Hebrew (the Jewish explanation of the name is Os Torah = "letter of the Torah" in the Ashkenazic pronunciation of Hebrew).

Below is a summary of the 19th century Jewish presence in Ostrog:
During the 19th century the Ostrog community remained one of the largest and most important in Volhynia. In 1834, the authorities counted 8,247 Jews, three synagogues, six Batei Midrash and four minyanim. In 1847 the community numbered 7,300 Jews. In 1897 there were 9,208 Jews (62% of the total population), in 1910 – 11,838 (65% of the total). The main occupation of Jews was trade, mainly of timber, cattle and agricultural products. One of the most tragic events in Ostrog in the 19th century was the great fire of 1889. In just four hours half of the town was destroyed and many synagogues and ancient community documents were burnt. At the end of the 19th century the economic importance of Ostrog declined, because of the railway which by-passed the town by 13 km.
At the beginning of the 20th century there were a state-run Jewish school for boys, a Talmud Torah with a vocational department, a private Jewish school, a Jewish library, an old-age home and a Jewish hospital. In 1910 the traditionalist circles, with R. Fishel Grinberg at their head, established a yeshiva in the town.

and here is a small map showing the location of Ostrog:

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