Фастов (Russian), Хвастів – Khvastiv (Formerly), כוואסטוב ,חוואסטוב (Yiddish)
Fastov is a historic city located in Kiev region, center of Fastov district. Fastov is located on the Unava River, a tributary of the Irpen. The city’s estimated population is 47,284 (as of 2016).
Fastov became a part of Russia Empire in 1793, in XIX – beginning of XX century it was shtetl of Vasylkov Yezd of Kiev Gubernia.
Fastov is approx. 40 km from Belaya Tserkov and in 73 km from Kiev.
While the first Jewish community was officially established in 1750, the first Jewish settlement in Fastiv can be traced back to the 17th century.
The middle of the XVIII century was marked with devastating pogroms for the Fastov jewish community that suffered greatly from Haidamaks, paramilitary Cossack bands. 1768 was the hardest year for the Jews living in the town.
Jewish population of Fastov:
1847 – 2694 jews
1897 – 5595 (52%)
1905 – 7095
1939 – 3545 jews
2015 – 31 jews
In the 18th century the community was mentioned in connection with development of Hasidism; there is a legend that the Baal Shem Tov spent Shabbats in Fastiv. From 1772 to 1776, at the insistence of Rabbi Nahum from Chernobyl, the mentor of Fastov community was Rabbi Abraham ha-Malah, the son of Rabbi Dov Ber from Mezhirichi.
In 1782, Rabbi Israel Polotzker, one of the first students of Rabbi Dov Ber, was passing through Fastiv and died there. According to «Shivhey Besht», the Rabbi from Ostroh also died in Fastiv (supposedly Rabbi Abraham Meshullam Zalman, brother of rabbi Yaakov Emden).
Rabbi Gabai, head of “Ohelei Tzadikim” ogranisation, on the front of ohel of Rabbi Abraham ha-Malah during reconstruction in 2016, Fastov Jewish cemetery
The Jewish community of Fastov was large, at 2,694 Jews recorded in 1847.
Fastov entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913. Page 1
Fastov entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913. Page 2
50 years later this number went up to 5,595, according to the population census. Before 1910 there was a Talmud-Torah and Jewish schools for men and women.
An outstanding local historian of the XIX century L.Pokhylevych quoted a different number of Jews living in Fastiv in mid XIX century, 3,508.
According to the archives, in September 1905 the population of Fastiv was 21,137, where 12,848 were Orthodox Christian, 1,194 Roman Catholic and 7,095 Jewish.
In 1904, according to the archive information Nukhim Leychenko is building “a small paraffin warehouse”, Ariy Shtets is building “a soap plant”, and the local Jewish community is building a “Talmud-Torah”.
In 1905, a Fastiv tradesman Frants Izakov got a permission to build a circus in the town and in 1906, Ovsiy Zhytomirskiy builds a candle making plant. Next year a permission to build a steam mill in Fastiv is granted by a merchant Yakiv Liberovits-Sheintsvit. Moreover, one more three-storied water mill has been built on the river Unava this year and Moshka Berkovich Zavirius was granted a permit ”to set up a steam mill for the processing of wheat and cereals in Fastiv”.
In 1914, Srul and Barukh Tsukovich Vanshtock with Altir Abramovich Rakovskyi were granted a permit to build a steam-powered saw-mill.
According to an author from Fastiv Volodymyr Boroshenko, nearly 9,000 Jews were living in Fastiv in the beginning of the XX century, with this number dropping significantly by 1939, when according to the state census, there were 3,545 Jews.
Fastov market square, 1900’s
On November 27th 1913, a severely mutilated body of an 11-12 year old boy was found in the timber warehouse in Fastiv. There were 13 stab wounds in his neck. The police found the killer very quickly. It was Ivan Honcharuk, a Ukrainian criminal with previous convictions. The victim’s name was Yossel Pashkov, a son of Jewish tailor Froim Pashkov, who lived in Fastov. The case was quickly solved.
However, Russian Justice Minister Ivan Shcheglovitov, infamous for his role in the Beylis case, refused to accept the results of the investigation and ordered to re-open the case under the following grounds, “To find out whether the murdered boy was the son of his parents and why not to assume that Jew Pashkov had committed a ritual murder over a Christian boy and then said that the victim was his son in order to hide his deed.”
A new public prosecutor Volodkovich was sent to Kiev. He was the protégé of the former prosecutor Chaplinsky, the key accuser in the Beylis case.
According to the authorities’ demands, Volodkovich ignored the fact that the murderer had already been found and identified by the police detectives. The chief Fastov policeman Malitskiy and the head of the investigation were fired.
At the same time an organized anti-Semitic campaign was stirred up by the media, with rumors that the Jewish boy Pashkov escaped to America together with Beylis, and his father committed a ritual murder of a Christian boy.
The same set of false witnesses, who testified in the Beylis case, was involved here.
The case was finally closed by the new Kiev prosecutor Chebyshev, an anti-Semite but nevertheless a person of professional integrity. Chebyshev assigned a new expert panel to the case, which proved incontrovertibly that the murdered boy was indeed Yossel Pashkov, and Boris Taranenko, purported to be the Christian victim of the ritual murder, was healthy and well, staying with his relatives.
Most Jews lived in the center of town and in a neighboring Jewish settlement Kadlubytsya (nowadays a suburb of Fastiv) where there was a Jewish collective farm “Roiter poyer” which means “The Red Plowman”. The residents of Kadlubytsya and surrounding villages worked for this collective farm.
Marriage certificate of Bension Kipnis and Sarah-Basya Polyak signed by Fastov Rabbi Moshe-Meer Kligman, 1898
There are two Jewish districts in the city. The majority of Jewish houses are situated around the in Kuibysheva Street (former Remisnycha and Kyivska Streets), in Kalinina Street (former Chervona, Vasylkivska, Devyatogo Sichnya and Rybna Streets), in Soborna Street.; the Jewish school was located there (Kuibysheva 10; now the city elementary school is located in that building) and the choral synagogue (corner of Kuibyshev and Urnuk streets; now used as an administrative building).
Building of the synagogue in Fastov
The years of the civil war were the hardest times for Fastiv Jews. According to the archives, over 500 Jews perished in just one week between 9 and 15 September 1919; their houses, shops and stalls were burnt down.
Funeral of bones which were find in different places after Denikin’s pogrom, September 1919
Rita Moyiseivna Kopyt recalls an awful story of a Jewish family called Zozulya.
“One day in September 1918 the mother Roza was making cherry jam when suddenly a young soldier from the army of Denikin [the White Guard general, responsible for wide spread pogroms, known as the White Terror – translator’s note] armed with a rifle appeared in their yard. He said, “Well, you’re making jam, aren’t you? We’ll come around tonight and have a taste”. Suddenly, he looked up and saw a 12-year old Srulik Zozulya’s daughter Esterka. At the time her father was not at home: he was hiding at a local priest’s place… Not paying attention to Roza’s pleading, the soldier savagely beat up Roza with his rifle and then raped her daughter Esterka, afterwards he also raped Roza….The mother was getting worse throughout autumn and winter. She never recovered and died quietly, leaving three children orphans. Esterka was lying there for three days hugging her dead mother. When the Jewish neighbors came to bury Roza, they could not pull Esterka’s hand off the dead body, it had bloated already. Roza’s body was wrapped in a blanket, put onto the sleigh and taken to the Jewish cemetery. Esterka was running after the sleigh barefoot – it was winter. A 34-year old Roza was buried quietly wrapped in a blanket, she had no coffin. Denikin’s soldiers were in charge and the Jews were afraid to leave their houses. Srulik Zozulya did not find his wife when he came home. His three children were hiding at the next door neighbor’s, called Ganna Svyrydchuk.”
Victims of Denikin’s pogrom. September 1919
Jewish families started to leave Fastiv and the neighboring villages such as Trylisy, Didivschina, Kozhanka, Polovetske. Those Jews who saved enough money and were young enough to emigrate moved to Europe and the USA.
After the Revolution
In 1921-1922, the town was nearly destroyed. Most people moved away, and there was nothing left from the former busy industrial town of the early XX century. However, the local Communist Party unit had a lot of members, which is why Fastiv was chosen to be a district centre in 1923.
In 1923, local JOINT employee send a report to USA headquarter and described result of devastating pogroms:
Fastov is situated at a large railway station. 60 verst’s distance from Kiev, awing to which it rapidly progressed with regard to its economic conditions and the number of its population.
The Jewish population before the pogroms was 12,000 and now is 6,000, There ware 600 Jewish houses before the pogroms and now are 110.
Before the pogrom, Fastov was an important point with a comparatively all developed industry. In 1918, Fastov gave refuge to about 5,000 refugees from pogromized places of the Kiev Gubernia.
The cruel pogrom committed by Denikin’s troops entirely destroyed the greater part of the Jewish population, of Fastov. The remaining Jaws fled to nearest points, mainly to Kiev. The Fastov pogrom is one of the most cruel pogroms in the Ukraine by its dimensions as wall as by cruelties committed at the time of it.
Mourning procession to the Jewish cemetery on the anniversary of the Denikin’s pogrom, Fastov
Tha number of person murdered was about 2000
Tha number of person wounded was about 500. There was also a great number of violated women.
The number of houses destroyed and burnt dawn 400
The number of shops destroyed and burnt dawn 200
The number of persons dead of starvation and various epidemics which raged during the pogroms, is about 6,000 person, according to the information furnished by the Burying Association of Fastov.
Thus, about one half of the total Jewish population of Fastov, amounting in all to 12,000, perished, the remaining population, which fled from Fastov during the pogroms, returning to their native place.
At present there are in Fastov’:
800 widows, 160 orphans, 860 half-orphans and 200 invalids.
Symbolic monument to 600 victims of Denikin pogrom by 1919 on Fastov Jewish cemetery. Monument was erected in 2015 at the expense of member of local Jewish community Vladimir Boroshenko (1930-2015)
At the very beginning of the Soviet rule the synagogues and the Jewish schools went on working, the Jewish newspapers and books were being published and distributed, the collective farm was still active. Everything was closed in late 30s and 40s: synagogues and schools were transformed into warehouses and army bases, some synagogues were expropriated by the state and turned into local police headquarters with detention cells.
In the early 1920s, a Jewish seven-year labor school number two was opened in Fastiv. The school was located in a timber building in Ivan Mazepa street, 14. The building did not survive. The school had four classrooms. Its first principal was Yerusalimskyi, later Spector took this position. The teachers were Hrushanska, Babina, Erlikh, Manovich. There is no other information. The students stayed in Years 4, 5, 6 and 7. There were 22-25 pupils in each class. Since 1929, Korostyshevsky was the school principal. The number of pupils increased considerably, leading to the second-floor extension. In 1930, the Jewish school occupied two buildings.
In 1932, the Jewish school moved from the old building to a new one in January 9th street. From 1933 till 1934, Bella Naumivna Minevich was the principal of the school.
In 1934-1941, Yosyp Sheveliovych Mazur became the principal.
In 1938, the Jewish school became part of the Russian national school, since then the teaching was in Russian.
The chief rabbi was sentenced to Solovki camps and the Jewish school was turned into the Russian “by public demand”.
Bookkeeper Isaak-Aisek Volfman (1877/78 – 1941) was an unofficial rabbi in Fastov before the WWII. Before Revolution, he was Rabbi in Germanovka and escaped to Fastov during pogroms.
Isaak-Aisek Volfman (1877/78 – 1941) , last Rabbi of shtetl Germanovka and unofficial Rabbi of Fastov before the WWII.
During the World War II Fastiv was occupied between July 1941 and September 1943.
The arrests started from the first days of occupation. Some Jews were ordered to sweep the streets and dig potato fields. After the work was finished, some Jews were shot by the Nazis.
One day the local police took 30-35 women who worked on the potato field near the road to Didivschina, to the ditch dug out before. They started raping the women in front of other people. Afterwards they beat them to death with their rifles. Those women who were not killed were taken to the forest and shot there.
In August- September 1941 Wehrmacht executed 30 Jews at first and then 262 Jews between the ages of 12 and 60. According to the execution lists found in Fastiv the exact number of the Jews killed was 95.
In October 1941 surviving Jews were gathered in the building of an old bath-house in Gorkogo Street and in the former secondary school No2. They were taken to the places of mass executions not far from the school No4 in Komarova Street and another one in the Kadlubytsya area, which happened in late autumn 1941. The ditch the dead bodies were thrown into was not deep, and when frozen ground started melting in early spring, streams of human blood were flooding the fields. After the war was over, a memorial plaque to commemorate the execution of local Jews was erected there. The remains of the bodies were buried in the Jewish cemetery in Komsomolskaya Street, 38.
Another 27 Jews were shot by the local police not far from Kozhanka village. Sixteen Jews of Kadlubytsya were identified in the execution lists. So, by 12 October 1941 the total number of local Jews murdered had reached 700-800 people. There was a mass Jewish execution in the local powder depots in spring 1942.
Moisey Shlyak, soviet soldier, killed in action
The last execution of Fastiv Jews was recorded in summer 1943. This period was mentioned in the criminal records of the former local police collaborators. The number of people shot was not recorded. Some locals collaborated with the Nazis in mass killings of Jews. Their families’ members tried to stop them but unsuccessfully.
The total number of Jews executed in Fastiv and Fastiv area was about 1,000 people during the whole period of occupation.
Holocaust victims in Fastov:
Genya Akselrud was killed together with sun Senya
Former Head of Fastiv Jewish community Ella Aronivna Sheinfein said, that it was a very trying period for the Jews during the Nazi occupation. A ghetto for the Jewish children, brought in from Fastiv and the area, was set up in the building of the secondary school No5. One autumn day a woman from Chervona village was passing by the school. She saw a 3-year old Jewish girl named Raya run out of the building (as she found out later, the girl’s surname was Brodska). When a policeman, guarding the ghetto, turned his back, the woman grabbed the girl and took her to her village where she had been hiding the child at her place until she was 7. The girl was given a Ukrainian name Galya so that the Germans could not guess that an ordinary Ukrainian family was bringing up a Jewish girl alongside their Ukrainian children. When Raya’s father came back home from the front, he tried to find his family but they all perished. The family of Kateryna Platonivna Savchenko was awarded the title of righteous gentiles by the state of Israel for rescuing a Jewish girl. The fate of other children from the ghetto was tragic: all of them were executed. The most horrifying was the death of the youngest children as their bodies were thrown into the air and shot as if they were shooting bait.
Symbolic monument to Holocaust victims on the Fastov Jewish cemetery. Monument was opened in 2010 for cost of Mike Polskiy from USA
That wasn’t the only case of Jewish children being rescued by Ukrainian families. A similar story happened in the family of Antonina Petrivna Sugak and her daughter Larysa Fedorivna Khrustalyova who saved another Jewish girl Tsylya Vainrub. The names of Maya Grygorivna Ostapenko, the Levischenki’s sister and brother, Tetyana and Petro could be included into the list of the righteous gentiles. These people helped to find the exact execution place near the Kozhanka’s sugar plant. The Levischenkis also hid a Jewish girl brought to their village by a stranger from Kyiv. The Kryvobok’s family hid their daughter-in-law who was Jewish and her child. Their cousin betrayed them to the Nazis. The Jewish mother with her child were taken to Vasylkiv village, shot and buried in a common grave.
List of Holocaust victims in Fastov (not full):
After the WWII
After the war ended many Fastiv Jews came back home to their houses which had been almost destroyed. Some of them were involved in the reconstruction work in the town. Lev Aronovytch Rabynovych was the director of the bakery, Ivan Ivanovych Abramsky was in charge of Fastiv electric distribution plant. From 1946 till 1949 Volodymyr Yakovych Roytman was the school’s principal.
Throughout the post-war period all forms of Jewish national culture were progressively eroded.
Еhe Jewish community existed de-facto; there were underground minyans in the city. People collected money for community needs, including cemetery maintenance. Part of this money disappeared in the early 1990s during the financial reforms.
Rita Moyiseivna Kopyt living in Kuibysheva Street in Fastiv recalls:
“In this street there used to be 52 houses which belonged to the Jews. At the end of the street there was a synagogue that survived during the war. Nowadays there is a police headquarters and a local residents’ registration office at the place where the synagogue had been. It was constructed in 1898-1900. My grandfather built the synagogue and sang in it. He was a cantor. His younger sister Mime Ester who survived until 1972 remembered him singing beautifully, like a professional. I might have inherited my father’s ability to sing. I remember him singing while praying to God. However, the synagogue did not belong to the Jewish community after the war. The Jews prayed in the Jewish houses that had not been ruined during the war…In our street lived the Kopyts, the Koniks, the Rabynoviches, the Rybalskiys, the Tsypershteins, the Talskiys, the Rotmanskiys, the Koganovskiys and other Jewish families.”
Former Jewish school
Recently, there has been an active Jewish community in Fastiv registered in 1998, first headed by Ella Aronivna Sheinfain, then Svitlana Vasylivna Voloshska, and now by Zhanna Volochaeva. The Jewish Distribution Committee “Joint” which has its representative office in Kyiv provides the community with some financial support. Another organization “Hesed” helps the elderly Jews of Fastiv by distributing food boxes, clothes, medication, and sometimes home appliances such as fridges and TV sets under its “808” program. The community holds festivals, concerts; provides medical support in a Jewish resort in Rakytne.
In 2015, only 31 Jews lived in Fastov…
There are two Jewish cemeteries in Fastiv. The old cemetery stopped functioning in the 19th century and, after WWII, the land plot of this cemetery was earmarked for private construction by the decision of the local authorities. The exact location of this cemetery is unknown.
Rabbi Abraham ha-Malah was originally buried in Fastov Old Jewish cemetery and his remains were re-buried in the New cemetery when the former was dissolved. This re-burial is the subject of a local legend: after the cemetery plot was allocated for construction by the local authorities, the Rabbi’s tomb, the only one with a name on it, appeared in the garden of a local family. The family was constantly haunted by misfortunes, and so asked the Jewish community to move the grave to the New Cemetery. As soon as the re-burial took place, the problems stopped.
The second cemetery is located behind the property at Komsomolskaia Str., 38. In order to access the site, it is necessary to cross private land belonging to the Stetsky family, who have been the caretakers of the Jewish cemetery for several generations. The house is only occupied in summer.
The new Jewish cemetery on Komsomolskaya Street was established in the late 19th century. The cemetery was used by the Jewish residents of Fastiv, Kyiv, Kozhanka and Fastovets. During the occupation, the German occupiers (Zonderkommando 4A) used gravestones for construction.
There is also a mass grave located at the site, in which 500 people are buried.
Grave of Vladimir Boroshenko, local Jewish historian
Symbolic monument to Holocaust victims
In addition to the ohel there is also a caretaker’s residence at this cemetery.
Old genizah existed near ohel on this cemetery but it wasn’t restored in 2016 during ohel’s reconstruction.
Tombstones have inscriptions in Russian, Yiddish and Hebrew and 25-50% of them are broken and/or toppled. In addition to marble, granite and sandstone, some are made of iron. Tombstones are generally ‘tablet’ shaped, many have iron railings and most have portraits. The inscription on the oldest tombstone (dating from 1906) is as follows:
ציון לנפש עדינה
שרה בת ר’ דוד יצחק
[..ן]טבת [..] טבת
Sign to the tender soul
Sarah, \ daughter of Reb David Yitzhak
[…], who died
May her soul be bound up in the bond of life
Rabbi Abraham ha-Malah’s grave is protected by an ohel (see cemetery photographs). The inscription is as follows: “The sacred gravestone of the righteous admor Rabbi Abraham ha-Malah, son of the Holy Maggid, Rabbi Dov Ber from Mezhirich, let us be saved for his merits; deceased on Tishrey 12, 5537.” The gravestone/ohel was erected in 1999 by the «Dereh Tzadikim» company, Jerusalem. The old gravestone and inscription have not been preserved.
Holocaust mass grave
Grave locates in the city centre, towards the end of Budonnogo Street near the school.
More than 1000 Fastov Jews were killed and buried here.
Famous Jews from Fastov
Rabbi Abraham ha-Malah (1741-1777) is a known tzaddik, a son and disciple of Rabbi Dov Ber Mezhirichsky. Already at an early age, Rabbi Abraham led a selfless life; he lived as a hermit, and dedicated himself to the study of Kabbalah. His father suggested Rabbi Shneur Zalman as a friend for his son, who taught him Talmudic literature, and learned Kabbalah from Abraham in turn. A short time after the death of his father in 1772, Abraham began to preach in Fastiv, where he lived in strict seclusion, not communicating with anyone. Rabbi Abraham left behind a work called ‘Hesed le-Abraham’, published in 1851. In his composition, Abraham ha-Malah bitterly complains of the decline of Kabbalah, the brutal materialization of the teachings of Hasidism and the importance of a selfless, ascetic life. He did not mention either the Baal Shem Tov or his father in his work – a rare phenomenon in works of Hasidic literature of that time. Being a religious thinker a contemplator and a mystic, Rabbi Abraham could not become his father’s successor. He nevertheless had an enormous influence on Rabbi Zalman Shneur of Lyady and his Chabad teachings.
Moshe Mabovich, father of Golda Meir
According to the version of the Fastiv ethnographer Volodymyr Boroshenko (1930-2015), Golda Meir was born in Fastiv, not in Kyiv. Old Jews, who remembered the family of Moshe Mabovich, Golda Meir’s father, told him about it in the 1950s.
The following is the account by Volodymyr Boroshenko:
My mother Mosia was born in 1897, one year older than Golda Meir. She used to tell me that our Golda was born in Fastiv. I heard it from her. Who was her father Moshe Mabovich? He was originally from Fastiv. He had friends there. In 1959, my friends told me that he was as poor as a church mouse. He didn’t even have a place to live, so he had to spend nights in the synagogue. That is why; he was enlisted as a recruit to the Imperial Russian army.
In 1901, Golda and her parents move to Minsk, Belarus, to join her mother’s relatives, and her father emigrates to America. Some years later he takes his family over there. It was 1906. My mother’s father and Moshe Mabovich were friends when they were children.
Sasha Konyk used to live in Fastiv. He worked at the “Red November” plant. He had an uncle who also lived in Fastiv. In 1959, when I talked to Sasha his uncle was in his early 90s. So, he could have been born in 1867-1868. He kept reminiscing about those events and Moshe Mabovich.
The house where Golda spent her first years is still in Gorkiy lane in Fastiv. Illia Solodar who was born in 1932 used to live there earlier. He was a general practitioner in Fastiv and moved to Israel 15 years ago.
When Mabovich family left for America, their house was occupied by Ilya Solodar’s father. During the war they moved to the Middle Asia, where old Solodar died. His elder brother Musia was killed at the front. The Solodar mother with little Iliusha came back to Fastiv after the war…
Iosef Gorodetskiy (1911, Fastov – 1994, Kiev), soviet cameraman.
Morduh Rybalskiy (1870, Fastov – 1938, Leningrad), soviet actor.
Iosef Tchaikovsky (1923, Fastov – 1945, Poznan). Hero of the Soviet Union who died during the liberation of Poznan.
Iosef Tchaikovsky (1923 – 1945)
Ephraim Sklyansky (1892, Fastov – 1925, New York) was a Soviet statesman, second person in Red Army after Leon Trosky during Russian Civil War. He joined the Bolsheviks during his years as a student in the medical faculty of Kiev University, from which he graduated in 1916; he was immediately drafted into the army, where he served as a doctor and became prominent in the clandestine military organizations of the Bolsheviks. At the time of the October Revolution he was a member of the Military Revolutionary Committee of the Petrograd Soviet; on meeting him in November, Leon Trotsky was so impressed with his “great creative élan combined with concentrated attention to detail” that he appointed him his deputy on the Revolutionary Military Council, where he served with distinction during the Russian Civil War (1918-1920) and helped improve the fighting condition of the Red Army—Trotsky called him the Carnot of the Russian Revolution. In 1924 his position as Trotsky’s deputy was taken over by Grigory Zinoviev’s ally Mikhail Frunze. Instead, he was made chairman of the Mossukno state textile trust, and the following May he left on a tour of Germany, France, and the United States to acquire technical information. On August 27, 1925 he died in a boating accident on Long Lake (New York) along with Isay Khurgin , the first head of Amtorg Trading Corporation.
Ephraim Sklyansky (1892 – 1925)
Semen Burman (1908, Fastov – 1976, Kiev), soviet military hero, full cavalier (all 3 classes) of Order of Glory