From Russia to Palestine
The father of our family Rodion Trafimovich Ageyev was born on November 9, 1884 in a small village called Kosachyovka which was located in eastern Belarus (Mogilov oblast, Klimovichi region), now a deserted village located in (
Smolensk oblast, Roslavl region). His family was Russian peasants. Since he was very young he had a big desire to acquire education and knowledge. As a young boy he had to work hard at the family farm and his life were hard, since the family was large and the house was very crowded. But despite all the hardships, Rodion stragled to learn read and write and to recieve formal education.
Rodion Trafimovich Ageyev, 1910
In 1906 Rodion was enlisted to the Russian Army and became an officer in 1907. In 1910, after he completed his army duties, he went to live with his uncle Daniel who lived in
Caucasia , in Sochi, a city on the Black Sea. There he worked with his uncle as a carpenter. In 1913 in Tuapsai, a city on the shores of the Black Sea, he married Ekaterina Petrovna Illina, his fiance from Kostyukovka a neighboring village to Kosachyovka his home village. In that year he bought a farm in the village Marino, located not far from Lazarebskoy close to Tuapsai on the
Black Sea . He started to develop his farm, learned from a neighbor German baron the art of cooperage (wine barrels making) and planned to make this farm a home for his young family. But the revolution and the war changed his plans.
Rodion and Katya on their wedding day
In 1914 Rodion was enlisted again to the army and was sent with his unit to the front. He fought as an officer against the Germans, was exposed to the horrors of the war and was wounded twice in action. When he was in
Moscow hospital for treatment of his second time wound, he met all kinds of preachers and ideologies. We have a good reason to believe that at that point Rodion started the long journey of his life which changed his life completely.
The Village Marino in the Caucasus Mountains near the Black Sea
On October 1914, while Rodion was fighting the Germans, Katya, in Kosachyovka, gave birth to their first son Anatoli.
After he was wounded for the second time he was relieved from combat duties and in 1917 he was discharged from the army and returned to his farm in Marino in
Caucasia . The revolution of 1917 changed his plans again and immediately after the revolution he returned to his home village Kosachyovka.
On April 1917, in Kosachyovka, Katya gave birth to Viktor , their second son.
On May 1917 Rodion was elected by the villagers community to represent them in the farmers convention in Mogilov and later he was nominated as the head of the action committee regarding the distribution of land to the villagers as part of the new Agrarian Revolution of Lenin.
In 1918, after he finished his duty as head of villagers committee he and his wife and two sons went back to the farm in Marino. But the seeds of a new ideology started to sprout. At that time he joined an ideological group which basically converted people to Judaism. Rodion, the young man who loved the srtories of The Bible decided to follow the steps of Abraham, as told in The Bible, in the book of Jenesis chapter 12: Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
On November 1918, in Militopol, Yakov, the third son was born.
Rodion decided to convert himself and his family to Judaism and planned to start new life in the Promissed Land. From his diary it is obvious that Rodion was one of the leaders of a group of people which followed him all the way to The Holy Land . It is impossible to determine the structure and size of that group. From Rodion's diary we can learn that Rodion commited to himself ritual Jewish circumcision as Abraham did folloing The Lord's order in The Book of Jenesis chapter 17: "As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. Throughout your generations every male among you shall be circumcised when he is eight days old, including the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring. Both the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money must be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant."
Later on Rodion commited circumcision to his three sons, two of his brothers, and to at least 50 more persond who eventually joined his new Jewish group.
On October 1921, in the city Bilievka, Rodion and his group received the order to move ( he does not specify in his diary who gave the order ) and they started their journey toward The Holy Land.
Kosachyovka 1921 - Going to The Promissed Land.
Seating from left - Katya, Rodion, Ivan, Kuzma & his wife front from left - Yaakov, Viktor, Anatoly, babies of Kuzma
On December 20, 1921, Katya gave birth to their fourth child Dvora (Dora).
At this point Rodion stopped to record his activity in his diary. It is assumed that the group moved to a certain location in the eastern Caucasia where they lived in a commune and prepered to the move to The Holy Land. In mid April 1923 the group sailed from Batumi (a port city on the eastern shore of the Black Sea ) to Kushta ( now
Istanbul ). In Kushta the group contacted officials of The JOINT (The Jewish Agency ) who were supposed to help them to get to Palestien and to start there new lives. Because of economic and bureaucratic problems the group "got stuck" in Kushta and had to work for their living . At that time Rodion worked as a knives sharpener in the streets of Kushta. He used to walk the streets with the sharpening machine on his back, offering his services loudly. On Sunday, September 23, 1923 two families of the group, The Ageyevs and The Filins, sailed to The Holy Land on board of the ship SS Brazilia. The rest of the families joined them on the next scheduled ship two weeks later.
On Tuesday, the second day of October 1923, the passengers ship SS Brazilia set ancore outside the port of Jaffa. A few hours later a group of Russian-Jewish new converts (Gers) , led by Rodion Trofimovich Ageyev, now carrying the Hebrew name Elisha, with his wife Yekaterina Petrovna, now Rivka, their four children Anatoly ( Tuvia ), Viktor ( Shlomo ), Yaakov and Dvora, set foot on the soil of The Promissed Land in the port of Jaffa. With them The Filin family, led by Gavriel Filin, his wife Miriam and the children : Sara, Avraam, Yona, Aharon and Channa. Ivan Ageyev, Rodion's youngest brother, now carring the Hebrew name Enoch, joined the family two weeks later on the next ship from Kushta.