Konotop

Konotop (Ukrainian: Конотоп Ukrainian pronunciation: [konoˈtɔp]) is a city in northern Ukraine within the Sumy Oblast.

At the beginning of the 19th century, only about 80 Jews lived in Konotop, but by 1847 the number had grown to 521.

Jewish life in the town during the 19th century is described in memoirs by Pauline Wengerof, who lived there for some years. The numbers increased considerably during the second half of the 19th century as a result of the movement of Jews from the northwestern provinces of the *Pale of Settlement to the southeastern ones, reaching 4,426 (23.5% of the total population) in 1897.  In 1892 there was Jewish Hospital. From the 1880 rabbi was Arie-Leib Gaft.

Konotop at the beginning of XX century. Postcard from ester.org.ua

Konotop at the beginning of XX century. Postcard from ester.org.ua

In the end of 19th – beginning 20th century there were 3 synagogues and 3 heders (for 13 boys), Talmud-Tora (for 50 boys) and Jewish school for woman (25 girls). In 1913 there was mutual aid society.

On April 29, 1881, the Jews of Konotop suffered from a pogrom which left one dead, and many destroyed houses. They  were again attacked during the Civil War by the volunteer  army of General Denikin on September 19, 1919; six were killed, ten injured, women were raped, and houses robbed.

Most laborers in Konotop were jews in 1922 (962 persons – 52% of common number).

In 1923 all heders were closed and teachers from yeshiva were convicted. Synagogue was closed at spring 1923. In 1923-28 illegal zionist organization (Tseirey Zion and He-Halutz) sent youth to Izrael. In 1928 most Zionist in Konotop were arrested.

Konotop at the beginning of XX century. Postcard from ester.org.ua

Konotop at the beginning of XX century. Postcard from ester.org.ua

With the establishment of the Soviet regime, about 500 artisans were organized in cooperatives and had a savings and  loan fund. In 1925 Komzet sent 83 Jewish families (171 persons) from Konotop to farm in the Kherson Jewish colonies, they created “Land and Labor” kolhoz. And in 1926 jews from Konotop (63 persons) created “Fraifeld” colony in Krivoi Rog district.

In 1926 there were 5,763  Jews (17.2% of the population) in Konotop, dropping to 3,941  (8.6% of the total population) in 1939. Jewish theater worked between 1926 and 1927, jewish orphanage was existing between 1919-1922. Up to 1930th rabbi was Shimon Teiclin. In March 1930 situation with synagogues was the next: 3 was closed and 1 (for 300 persons) was working.

The Germans occupied the town on September 9, 1941; in the first few days they killed 123 Jews. 95 jewish POWs were killed on 1 December 1941 in Stalag 310 in Konotop. Later registration showed 1,000 Jews in Konotop, and they were ordered to wear the yellow badge and report for forced labor. In early November they were concentrated mostly in the local prison, and shortly thereafter all were murdered.

Jews returned there after the war. In 1959 there were 1,900 Jews, and in 1970 their number was estimated at about  250 (50 families).

Community was created again in 23 October 1993 by Grigoriy Izrailevich Aizenshtat (1939-2010). He create “Lebn” which became a first jewish organization in Konotop.

Jewish Religious Community was registered  in March 1995 and minyan was organized. Also they restored monuments in the Jewish cemetery. In July 1997 was opened monument at the grave of jews killed in Konotop during WWII (280 families ~ 1000 persons). Names more than a half of killed people were determinated.

In September 1999 was open Konotop City Charitable Foundation “Hesed Ester” which became an office for all Jewish organizations in Konotop:“Lebn” organization (http://lebn.net/), community of progressive Judaism, “Hesed Ester”. Official website:  http://ester.org.ua

 

Places

Building of former Synagogue

Bureau of Standards and Metrology is in building now.

Address: Yarkovskaya str.

Destroyed Jewish cemetery

Gas station is located on this place.

Address:  from corner of Shevchenko str. and Virovskogo str. to Brother Radchenko Str.

Mass grave

At the time of WWII there were killed more than 1000 Jews.There is a monument at this place.

Address: Ryaboshapko str., near airport

Former Jewish school 

Jewish school was closed in 1938. Now it is school №4.

Monument to Jews killed in shtalag

It located near the monument to killed captives.

Address: Yspensko-Troickaya Str.

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