The death threats continued. As each day ceaselessly brought its ever increasing quota of ominous notes, the Governor of Kiev insisted that I leave the city, claiming that he could not be responsible for my safety. My predicament was both unenviable and difficult. If I could not remain in Kiev, then I could not resume my former position as superintendent of the factory. Thus deprived of my only source of income, I could not imagine how I would otherwise provide for my family. I had always planned on being able to return to the existence I had previously enjoyed, but now I had to confront a different reality. I had to begin considering the option of moving and starting life anew.
About this time, a committee was formed to help handle my affairs. It was comprised of Dr. Bikhoffsky from Zaitzev’s Hospital, Rabbi Aaronson and the noted financier Joseph Marshak. They took it upon themselves to find a way for me to earn a living elsewhere.
One day, a representative of the New York American came to see me. Through an interpreter, he offered me a lucrative proposition. If I would agree to come to America and make appearances across the country for twenty weeks, then he would pay me four thousand dollars. Even though I told him from the very beginning that I wasn’t interested, he insisted I take more time to consider his proposal. When he returned for my answer a few days later, he said that, even if I refused now, the offer would always remain open.
“Besides,” he advised, “even though you are no longer imprisoned, you must still bear the burden of supporting your family. You may be enjoying your freedom now, but at some point, you will have to concern yourself with earning money. You won’t be able to stay in Kiev, and you won’t be able to live on other people’s sympathies forever. If you come to America, you ought to accept my offer. I will take care of everything. Even if you get a better offer, I’ll double it. In the meantime, I want you to sit down and give me a few autobiographical facts.”
I did as he asked, and we had a nice conversation for several minutes. Before leaving, he paid me one thousand dollars.
“This,” he said, “is for permission to publish your story in our newspaper.” He also gave me a personal souvenir, a golden watch. A few days after his departure, I received a telegram from H. Marcus of New York, proposing a three-year contract to work in his banking house. The salary would be ten thousand dollars a year.
I must admit that I found these offers tempting, especially when I considered my situation. I was losing my health, my job and my city of residence. Nevertheless, I respectfully declined.
My committee of guardians also agreed that I should reject this offer, in addition to several others. There was a certain Jewish woman in Paris who wanted to give me a house worth about three-quarters of a million francs, if I would come to Paris with my family. I decided to decline her magnanimous offer. It was going to be difficult enough to relocate to a different country; I refused to have to deal also with a language I could never learn.
Among the many other generous proposals was an offer extended to me by a Mr. Gershovitz, a factory owner from Odessa. His son, who lived in New York and was reputedly worth over a million dollars, had given his father twenty five thousand dollars to settle me and my family in New York. He also offered to establish a trust fund that would provide for all my needs.
I referred Mr. Gershovitz to Dr. Bikhoffsky, who was the chairman of my committee. Dr. Bikhoffsky, however, refused even to entertain the offer, which understandably greatly angered Mr. Gershovitz.
“Am I gaining something from this?” Mr. Gershovitz protested. “I just want to do something nice for Mr. Beilis, as one Jew for another. Why won’t you even listen to what I have to say? It doesn’t matter to me where Mr. Beilis goes, but wherever it is, he ought to be adequately cared for. I know you want to send him to Palestine. That’s fine. Just make sure he’ll be able to survive there in comfort and not have to suffer any further privations. If you can’t send him to Palestine, why not send him to America where he can live a decent life? If as a result of your advice, Beilis ever finds himself in need, it will be your fault. You will never forgive yourself. His future is in your hands.”
But Dr. Bikhoffsky steadfastly refused to reconsider.
Similar proposals came from Berlin, Vienna and London. In London, it was the Rothschild family that wanted to befriend me. They offered to give me a fully furnished home that would become my property as soon as I arrived in London. Mr. Rothschild even dispatched a young Jewish student to help me with the move to England. I was told, however, that the damp climate in London was unsuitable for me. My stint in prison had so adversely affected my health that I was left in a permanently weakened condition.
Somehow, the Kiev press learned of Mr. Rothschild’s benevolence. In the same article, the public was also informed that I had decided not to accept this offer either.
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