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Bohsla (Yiddish), Богуслав – Boguslav (Russian,Ukrainian)

Boguslav is a town in the Kiev region.

Since 1360 – in the Great Kingdom of Lithuania; since 1569 – city of Kiev povet and province in the Commonwealth.

Information about after-war Jews of Boguslav was provided by the head of Boguslav Jewish community Roman Tivin during our visit to Boguslav in the summer 2018. He is a seventh generation Boguslav resident.


The first known instance of Jewish settlement in Bohuslav dates from the late 16th/early 17th century.

Jewish population of Boguslav:
1765 – 574 jews
1847 — 5294 jews
1897 — 7445 (65,5%)
1910 — 14 236 (72%)
1926 — 6432 (53%)
1939 — 2230 jews
1989 — 179 jews
2004 – 50 jews

The Jewish population of Bohuslav suffered during the Khmelnitsky pogroms in 1648, from the Cossack raids of 1702, and from the Haidamak pogroms in 1768. In 1765 in Bohuslav lived 574 Jews, in 1784 – 622 Jews.

In 1789, the local population made a failed attempt to expel Jews from the town as a result of the supposed monopolization of trade by Jewish merchants. The town’s Jews defended themselves, explaining to the local authorities that they lived there with the permission of the Rzeczpospolita (Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth) and brought profit to the district, and that during most recent pogroms they had lost property to the amount of 284,000 zlotys and had been expelled from their houses.

The Jewish community started developing more actively after the annexation of Bohuslav to the Russian Empire in 1793.

In the middle of XVIII century Hevra Kadisha acted here. In the XVIII century Rabbis in Boguslav were Moishe-Eykel Gurevich, Avrum Rapoport, Dovid Kruglyak.In 1797, the Jewish population numbered 1,288 people Bohuslav and 6980 Jews in 1863.

Boguslav enterpreneurs in 1913

Torah School Book. Printed in Boguslav at 1820

Torah School Book. Printed in Boguslav at 1820

In the beginning of XIX century there was a Jewish printing house.

In the middle of XIX century Boguslav drinking rent belong to the merchants of 1st guild Gersh Balakhovskaya and at the end of the XIX century cloth factory  was owned by merchant Mordko Juzefov and distillery – to Haya Nemirovskaya.

In 1863 there were 3 synagogue and 16 in 1897 (one Great Synagogue, according to legend, was founded in the XVII century and 15 craft synagogues – shoemakers, weavers, tailors, furriers, carpenters, etc. which were founded at the end of XVII – the beginning of the XIX century), there were two Jewish cemeteries. In 1895 Rabbis were Joseph Zaslavsky and Pinchas-Avrum Berger.

Before the revolution, 80% of the houses in the center of Boguslav belonged to Jews.
In the early XX century, there were 17 klezmer bands which were invited to play at the weddings, even to Uman.
Before the revolution the richest businessmen of the shtetl were Fayzenberg (writer Ilf’s uncle) and a banker named Korsunsky.
The town Council is now located in Fayzenberg’s house. A Jew named Pokras is thought to be the first owner of the house. However, it is not true. Pokras was a gambler and won the house from Fayzenberg.

Sholom Aleihem lived in Boguslav with the family of his grandparents – Gitl-Yossi and Moishe Gamarnitskih some time after death of his mother.

Oldest building in Boguslav, build in 1726. Former Heder

Oldest building in Boguslav, build in 1726. Former Heder

In 1897 in Boguslav lived 7,745 Jews (65% of the population).

In 1901 Bohuslav functioned Talmud Torah (in 1909 – 130 students), private male school M.Ginzburg, female school of K.Ginsburg, in 1909 – a hospital, hospice, community guardianship of orphans, society of help for  poor, 3 private men’s college and over 20 headers (of 400 students), 3 female college (including one free, a total of 150 students), College 2nd class created by local educational society (over 50 students). Since 1910, there operated care for poor children of the Jews, in 1912 – Jewish Savings and Loan Association. Amount local taxes collected in 1900’s reached 6000 rubles per year (for the needs of the community could be used 2600).


The Jewish population of Bohuslav suffered under the 1918-20 pogroms; at least 50 people were killed and many more were injured. Hundreds of Jewish buildings including synagogues, houses, shops and warehouses were burnt down.

Boguslav sinagogue after pogrom. 1919

Boguslav sinagogue after pogrom. 1919

Local non-Jewish residents were warned that they would be shot for assisting the Jews. Nevertheless, some did help; some for a fee, others at no cost. Other locals, however, played an active role in the looting. A Jewish self-defence unit with over 1,000 members was created in early January 1920 which saved the town from many further attacks; Bohuslav even served as a refuge for other Jews who fled nearby towns and villages. The self-defence league was called upon by other Jewish communities and by local peasants under threat from bandits to assist in the establishment of similar organisations. Local self-defense was organized by local Jews who had been serving in the Russian Imperial Army. I’ve managed to find out only three surnames: Rozenfeld, Tsam, and Mamut.

Boguslav self defence unit

Boguslav self defence unit

The son of one of the participants in the Jewish self-defence league recollects his father’s stories: “My father spoke at a gathering of young Jewish people, appealing to them to organize a self-defence unit to struggle against the bandits. There were about 600 people in their units. They had 250 rifles, two automatic guns, bombs and grenades. I have no idea where they managed to get these weapons. The unit raided nearby villages and towns to fight the armed gangs. Bohuslav became a centre of self-defence in Kanev district, Kiev region. The local population sympathized with them and supported them with food and accommodation. They struggled for three years. On the third anniversary of the creation of their fighting unit, my father made an ardent speech expressing his appreciation of their bravery. In summer 1923, the self-defence league of Bohuslav was dismissed as there were no bandits left in the country and peaceful reconstruction work had begun.”

Boguslav self defence unit. 1920's

Boguslav self defence unit. 1920’s

In 1921 branch of Evsekciya opened in Boguslav. In the beginning of 1920’s acted illegal Zionist organization. In September 1922 was arrested a group of Zionists.

JDC report

I find this report on JDC Archiv website, it gave wide description of Boguslav Jewish community state at 1923:

The number of Jews in Boguslav is estimated at 13,000, of whom 3,435 are wage earners. Most of them are engaged in the textile industry, which is well developed in that city.

There are also a number of large mills and other Industrial enterprises in Boguslav and its surroundings, where many Jewish workers are employed.

Boguslav. Petlura pogrom victims

Boguslav. Petlura pogrom victims

The Jewieh population of Boguslav has suffered from a number of pogroms resulting in: Killed 48, Wounded 70, Violated over. 300, Houses destroyed 25, Shops destroyed 370

At the end of 1919, a self-defence organization was formed. Since then Boguslav became a centre where thousands of refugees from pogromized places with no self-defence have been concentrating. The number of refugees at one time amounted to 15,000. But due to the organization of similar self-defence organizations in the surrounding towns and also because of their partial restoration most of the refugees have returned to their homes, so that now only 600 refugee families remain, 60 of which wish to return to their old places, but because of lack of means they cannot do so.

Boguslav. Hostel for pogrom refugees. 1920's

Boguslav. Hostel for pogrom refugees. 1920’s

Children’s Institutions in Boguslav: 3 Children’s Homes for 110 children; 1 Favus house for 40 children; 1 Open Home for 129 children; 3 Schools with 303 children

The Favus home was founded on August 15th, 1923, and makes a rather painful impression. The home requires substantial repairs. Due to the insufficient number of beds, the children sleep two in one bed. Medical attention is insufficient, as a result of which the children suffer.

Jewish gravestones on the road in Boguslav, Shevchenko Str.

Jewish gravestones on the road in Boguslav, Shevchenko Str.

The children in the above institutions are mostly full and half-orphans, but apart from these, there are 378 additional orphans who are practically homeless and who receive practically no education.

The only typhoid hospital which was founded in the summer 1930 for 30 beds, has now been reduced to 30 beds, and after the removal of the Uyesd to Korsum, it is probable that the hospital will be closed altogether, leaving the entire Jewish population, including the children in the institutions, without any medical assistance.

Former Jewish shop in the center of Boguslav

Former Jewish shop in the center of Boguslav

There are 130 individuals who have lost their capacity to work. These poor people manage to eke out their miserable existence by begging.

In September, 1923, a Credit-Cooperative was organized in Boguslav aiming to assist artisan and agricultural cooperatives, individual workers producing for the market, and small traders. Through the initiative of this Credit Cooperative, an agricultural artel (Cooperative) is being organized with 50 families, for the cultivation of 300 dessiatins of land. There are a number of other workers in Boguslav who would gladly work land if they had the opportunity and the means.

Ruins in Boguslav after pogrom

Ruins in Boguslav after pogrom

Besides the agricultural, there are the following other artels in Boguslav:

I. TEETILE ARTEL; consisting of 100 members. The capacity of this artel is limited to 17 workers only, so that the members have to work in shifts. When not occupied in the artel they must needs of course earn their living otherwise. If supplied with credit for raw material, the artel could provide employment for all its members.

2. TAILORS’ ARTEL; has a membership of 50, but only 8 can work at the same time. To provide facilities for all members, 15 sewing machines are required.

3. WOOD-WORKING ARTEL: has 30 members, but because of lack of raw material and credit, they are unoccupied at present. The JDC has granted a loan of $11,000 to the Credit Cooperative.

Ruins in Boguslav after pogrom

Ruins in Boguslav after pogrom

Jewish tombstones on the streets of Boguslav

Jewish tombstones on the streets of Boguslav

In 1926, 6,432 Jews (53% of the total population) lived in Bohuslav. In 1930’s there was illegal Habad heder under rule of Rabbi Luchinskiy. On the eve of the Second World War, the Jewish population of Bohuslav had decreased to 2,230 people.

Roman Tivin’s grandfather saved two Ukrainian orphans Galia and Kolia from Masalovka who had been dying of the famine in 1932. Their parents died and the children were left in the market in Boguslav so that they could be rescued.

A Jewish theater had been functioning in the shtetl since the 1930’s.

Before the war, there was a Jewish school in the center, and a Ukrainian one was behind the river.
The bridge was often destroyed by flooding so local Ukrainian children went to the Jewish school. That’s why there were a lot of local Ukrainians who could speak and write in Yiddish fluently


The Germans occupied right-bank part of Boguslav on July 23, 1941 and left-bank part in July 27, 1941. Considerable proportion of the town’s Jewish population har time to fled and survived in evacuation. First two days of German occupation happened pogrom when few dozens Jew were killed. Systematic killing and mocking became a part of life. Local police gavered pretty jewish women and send them to german officers. In August 1941 all Boguslav Jews were concentrated in ghetto on Provalnaya Str. Jews were forced to scavange and didn’t recieved food for work.

Former Jewish shop in the center of Boguslav

Former Jewish shop in the center of Boguslav

At August 23, 1941 Germans collect aprox. 100 young man Jews and shoot them near the road to village Tuniki. At September 15, 1941 operative-command 5 execute 322 Jews (from other sources aprox. 500) and reported In Berlin that no Jews left in Boguslav. In same time was executed group of Jews-captives which were cured in local hospital. During next days of occupations Germans catch and execute Jews which were tried to hide and survive. These Jews were killed in different unknown places all over the city and surrounding areas. Among killed were many Jews-refuges from other citys and villages. In Boguslav were execute several Jewish families from Mironovka.

Both Germans and local Ukrainian police took part in shootings. Exhumation of Holocaust victims was done in 1944, right after the liberation of Boguslav. The bodies hadn’t been decomposed and many of them were identified. The Jews were reburied at the Jewish cemetery and the rest of the bodies were reburied at the local non-Jewish cemetery.

This list of Jewish soldiers from Boguslav which were killed during WWII was created in 1997 by head of local Jewish community Grinberg. There are 146 names…

10 local inhabitans were honored as Righteous Among the Nations.

Old Jewish cemetery was partially destroyed. In this cemetery were burried many famous Boguslav Jews and grandmother of Shalom Aleihem among them.

Bogulav was liberated by Red Army at February 3, 1944.

After Stalin’s death in 1953, several Ukrainian police who had participated in killing the Jews from Boguslav during the WWII were freed from the camps and they returned to the shtetl. Someone set fire to the house which belonged to one of these policemen.

Monument on the mass killing site was erected in 1990’s. aprox.

After WWII



In village Dybentsy near Boguslav there was a Jewish collective farm after the war. Jews from Boguslav worked there.



A number of Jews who had left returned to the town after its liberation by Soviet troops in 1944; a synagogue was opened in 1947. After the WWII head of Jewish religious community was Fonarev Isaac Matveevych (1896-?).


Jews started to leave Boguslav for Israel in the early 1970’s. The Satanovsky family was the first that went away.
The last Jewish wedding was in the shtetl in 1989. It was a big festive event in town. 280 (!) local Jews took part in the wedding, many of them came from other towns.
The groom’s name was Yosel, a local loader from the grocery warehouse and the bride was Roza. A Jewish band played at the wedding: Lofenfeld played the saxophone (he died in the USA, but was buried in Boguslav), Tivin sang, Vasilyev played the drums (his mother was Jewish), Aleksandr Satanovsky also was in the band, now he lives in Jerusalem.

In 1951, a group of religious Jews was arrested. They used to pray in Izia Abramovich Mamut’s home. Izia was sentenced to three years in prison, despite being a veteran of WWII,who was twice wounded and had a lot of medals. All the members of that minyan were punished in different ways, some of them were fined, others were fired from their jobs.
Yefim Vulfovich Tivin (1918-1984) was the only participant of the Parade on Victory Day in Moscow 1945 who lived in Boguslav after the WWII.

Zis Berko Abramovich Mamut (1924-1974), a war veteran, he was missing a lung, he was a captain of Boguslav football team.
The last person who could read prayers and Torah in Hebrew in Boguslav was a Jew whose nick-named was Surka. His real name and surname are unknown. He died in the early 1980’s.

Hinda Erdel at home in Boguslav 1994. She was the best specialist in choosing hens. Her father was a shoykhet; her son is a musician and lives in the USA now.

Hinda Erdel at home in Boguslav 1994. She was the best specialist in choosing hens. Her father was a shoykhet; her son is a musician and lives in the USA now.


This is a part of interview with Roman Tivin, member of Boguslav Jewish community, which was published in Nadezhda newspaper in 2015:

During the Soviet period the Jews of Bohuslav used to congregate at the house of my uncle, Izya Avramovych Mamut. He lived opposite the club of the clothing factory. No-one could suspect him, because he was an old party member. They had the Torah, tallits and prayer books. My uncle fought in the war and had many medals. The father of Mykhail Kivenko, Hedaliy, used to come there as well. They came to pray in a special room with a piano. One elderly Jew, Tune Lopata, used to play the piano before the war. Food and drinks were served also as everybody knew that there was an informer among the neighbors in the communal apartment. They used to meet up on high holidays, on anniversaries (yurtsayts). They changed their clothing and started to pray, while we, little kids, played in the yard and kept an eye out for intruders. If we saw the policemen on motorcycles, we would let them know immediately. Then Lopata would sit at the piano and start to play, while the table was quickly laid with vodka and snacks. The policemen would come into the house and say: “So, are you praying here?” – “Who told you that? We are just celebrating”. And Lopata would belt out “The Party is at the Helm”, and the others would sing along. So the policemen had to leave. And the group would change their clothes and continue to pray.

The Torah in the velvet cover and other ritual objects were kept at the place of an old Jew called Zayonchik. It was placed in a sack and I would carry it to my uncle’s. But then my father Efim Tivin, Hedaliy Kivenko, Misha Ryzhiy, Mozya Bezrukiy (Prober) sold all these to the Gorsky Jews, the Jews from the Caucuses region,  who came to live there. They wanted to do some maintenance work on the cemetery but had no money so they sold the books and the rest of it because they thought there was no-one left to do the praying. At same time it was simply too dangerous to congregate and pray. My uncle Zis Mamut was imprisoned for asking for a permit to pray in his house.

Paint on the wall of former house of merchant Pokrass (now city hall) . It was discovered in 2010's

Paint on the wall of former house of merchant Pokrass (now city hall) . It was discovered in 2010’s

By 1989, only 179 Jews lived in Bohuslav – a number which decreased further as a result of emigration in the 1990s.

Centropa video about Boguslav Jewish community in 1990’s:

In the 1990’s. Bohuslav was opened Jewish Culture society “Dobrodiy”, jewish library, a monument to the Holocaust victims.

Boris Grinberg

Boris Grinberg (1928-2014, Israel)

Members of Boguslav Jewish community in local museum

Members of Boguslav Jewish community in local museum

Boguslav Jews near Holocaust mass grave

Boguslav Jews near Holocaust mass grave

Boguslav Jewish community was formed in 1993 by Boris Abramovich Grinberg (? – 2014, Israel). Kobelevich was a the chairman. Roman Tivin took his place after him.
In 1993, up to 400 people gathered to celebrate Jewish holidays. In 1993, local authorities presented a pre-revolutionary building in the center of the town to the Jewish community. After the Jewish community had repaired it at their own expense the authorities took it back. Now Jews gather in Roman Tivin’s house.
In 2017, only nine Jews lived in former shtetl. Only two of them can speak Yiddish.

Genealogy information in Ukraine Archivs


Building of town concil before revolution belong to Jewish merchant Pokras (build in 1887).

House of Jewish merchant Pokras

House of Jewish merchant Pokras

Oldest building in Boguslav, build in 1726. It was a Heder before Revolution and now it is museum.  Address: Shevchenka Str., 35

Sholom Aleihem memorial table located at Franka Str., 21.


From buildings of 16 synagogue in beginning of XX century now exist building of one only. It belong to municipal property and wasn’t returned to community. I haven’t find building’s photo.

Holocoust Mass Grave

Mass grave located on the northern outskirts of Boguslav. Unknown Jews number were killed and buried there (300-500 persons) .

Boguslav Holocaust mass grave

Boguslav Holocaust mass grave

Boguslav Jewish Cemetery


The Jewish cemetery in Boguslav was first mentioned in Polish documents of 1632. Local Jews approached the Polish authorities requesting to give them some land for the cemetery.
Sholom Aleykhem’s grandparents, the Gamarnitsky’s are buried in this cemetery
In the cemetery there are mass graves of pogrom victims and those Jews who had died in an epidemic in 1919 – 1921. They used to be marked by small columns. Their condition now is unknown. Those Jews who had committed suicide were buried outside the cemetery.
In 1943-1944, Germans used grave stones from the Jewish cemetery for building roads during Korsun-Shevchenkovsky fight. After the war local authorities cut those stones for curbs, which can still be found in Shevchenko street.

Some of those curbs were taken out in the 1900’s – 2000’s, but some of them are still there. $ 100,000 of the local budget was spent to take the grave stones out of 300 meters of the road.
Roman Tivin and four friends began to restore the cemetery in the 1990’s and now it is in great condition. Nobody helped them financially.

First graves date by XVII century. The Jewish cemetery was looted after the WWII, when the gravestones and monuments have been used for roads restoration. According to members of the Jewish community, dozens of Jewish philanthropists transferred money to the local council and ordered to move tombstones in the cemetery, but their money has been used for a different purpose.

Oldest gravestone date from 1841.

In 1952, remains of 322 Holocaust vicitms were reburied from Tuntskiy forest to this cemetery.

Members of Boguslav Jewish community after cleaning of Holocaust mass grave in local Jewish cemetery, May 2017

около 3 га и на нем находится около тысячи памятников, самый старый из которых датируется 1841 годом. На нем также находится братская могила, куда в 1952 году были перезахоронены останки 322 богуславских евреев, расстрелянных 15 сентября 1941 года в Тунецком лесу. На могиле стоит д



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