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Gostomel

Gostomel
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Hostoml (Polish), Гостомель – Hostomel, Hostomel’ (Ukrainian)

Gostomel is a town in the Kiev region. In the XIX – early XX centuries, it was a shtetl of the Kiev uyezd, Kiev gubernia.

Very little is known about Jewish history of this former shtetl. Some information on the post-war Jewish population of Gostomel was provided by Genia Mezhiritskaya, born in 1938. We met in Gostomel in spring 2018.

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Following the second partition of Poland in 1793, when the Russian Empire acquired vast swathes of Central Europe of what is now Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and Lithuania and the pale of settlement was drawn, prohibiting Jews from settling anywhere in Russia outside of a restricted area, Kiev, even though geographically within the pale, was excluded from the list permitted settlements; Jews were not allowed to live there. They would settle in shtetls nearby. Gostomel was one of them.

Gostomel entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

Gostomel entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

According to the 1861 testimony of Lavrenty Pohilevich, “a Jewish elementary school was established in the shtetl with the help of the owner; this is why all of the members of the Jewish community are literate. Of the Orthodox Christians only the priest and the junior deacon are literate, and there is no school for the villagers”.

Old Jewish house in the center of former shtetl.

In 1863, a synagogue was founded in Gostomel.
Yosif-Leyb Karabelnikov (1876 – ?) was appointed a rabbi in 1906.

Rebuilded old Jewish house in the center of former shtetl Gostomel

Rebuilt old Jewish house in the center of former shtetl Gostomel

Jewish population of Gostomel:
1842 – 304 Jews
1897 – 916 (45%)
1939 – 165 (3%)
2001 ~ 20 Jews

On the 20th – 21st October 1905, Gostomel suffered a pogrom. It was organized by the locals from nearby villages. 23 Jewish stalls and 17 houses were looted.

In 1912, a Jewish savings and credit society was established in Gostomel.
During the Civil War, the Jewish population of Gostomel suffered from local bandits’ raids. In September 1919, some units of the Volunteer Army were responsible for a pogrom in Gostomel. Almost all Jews escaped; Nota Goldman was the only one who stayed and rescued the Torah scrolls from the destroyed synagogue.

Most of Gostomel Jews left the town in the 1920s in search of a better life. They moved to Kiev and other large cities. Most Jews left after the New Economic Policy (NEP) came to an end in the late 1920s.

Former centre of shtetl

Former centre of shtetl

Before World War II, very few Jews remained in the shtetl, exact numbers are unknown. Similarly, there is no information relating to the fate of the local Jews in the Holocaust in Gostomel.
Masha Loza, whose father was Jewish and mother Ukrainian, recollected how local Nazi collaborators drove her father’s family to the forest outside Gostomel and shot them. The place of their death is unknown.

After the war the following Jewish families returned to Gostomel: Trakhman, Fira Marants (son lived in Kiev), Tsinberg, Novitsky, Yakov Naumovich Sadovsky with his wife, Veytsin, Troyanskiy (director of glass factory), Zhitnitsky (blacksmith from the collective farm).

Yakov Isakovich Mezhiritskiy (1906 - 1960) and his wife Polina Mezhiritskiy (Gutnik) Grigorievna (1907-2001)

Yakov Isakovich Mezhiritskiy (1906 – 1960) and his wife Polina Mezhiritskiy (Gutnik) Grigorievna (1907-2001)

A lot of Jews came to Gostomel to find employment on new industrial plants built after the war.
The Tsinberg family were the first to leave for Israel in the 1970s. He was a shift supervisor at the glass factory. He had four children.

Yurko Volfovich Zhitniskiy (1913 - 1973)

Yurko Volfovich Zhitniskiy (1913 – 1973)

Old buildings did not survive, except a few ones in the center.
Older Jews preferred to attend the synagogue in Kiev, in the Podol area. There is no evidence of Jewish cultural activity in Gostomel in post-war years.
In 1999, there were 20 Jews in Gostomel, all of them post-war arrivals.

Three Jewish houses survived in the center of Gostomel, now housing a local chemist’s, the library and the civil registry office.

Gostomel Jewish cemetery

Apartment blocks were built on the land of the Jewish cemetery in 2011.

Destroyed Gostomel Jewish cemetery

Destroyed Gostomel Jewish cemetery

After the war, there were no Jewish burials at the Jewish cemetery. However, some gravestones survived, only to disappear later; most likely stolen by the locals. After the war, the Jews of Gostomel buried their dead at a Jewish cemetery in Kiev.

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