Lysianka is district center in Cherkassy region, Ukraine. The city’s estimated population is 8,161 (as of 2001).
In the XIX – early XX centuries, it was a shtetl in Zvenigorodka district of Kiev province.
Jews appeared in Lysianka in XVII century.
In 1702, The Haydamaky rebels killed almost all the Jews in Lysianka. The Jewish population of Lysianka suffered a lot in 1768 during the period “Koliyivshchyna”.
Burials in the Jewish cemetery which date back to 1761 prove the existence of Jews in Lysianka in the XVIII century.
By 1867 there were three synagogues in Lysianka and in the 1890s there was a Jewish almshouse. In the 1890s Mordko Teplichnyy was a rabbi, in 1895 Mordko Weitburd was rabbi’s assistant. In 1907 Moyshe Weiserman was the rabbi in Lysianka and in 1914 his role was filled by Meyer-Aron Berkvich Pribysh.
Lisyanka entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913
In 1882, the Jewish community of Lysianka sent a petition about the opening of a Jewish primary college (gymnasium) in Lysianka. The peasants wrote that the Jewish community had been paying candle-taxes but it financed the college in Zvenigorodka. It was very inconvenient to send children there to study. Kiev authorities refused.
In 1900, Yosel Aronovych asked the regional council for permission to open a private Jewish college but he was denied. Before this he had gotten permission to open the same type of college in Bila Tserkva. Yosel began to teach children unofficially in Shlioma Kurzhnir’s house but the police found out and stopped the lessons.
Jewish population of Lisyanka:
1847 – 1442 Jews
1897 – 2845 (39,5%)
1923 – 844 Jews
1939 – 215 (5%).
1998 -25 Jews
2016 – 11 Jews
In 1909, Jewish Talmud-Torah was opened in the synagogue which was located on the place of the former bookshop. 120 boys studied there at the expense of the Jewish community.
There were two synagogues in Lysianka.
By the request of the Minister of National Education, Emperor Nicholas II prohibited Jewish entry into the state colleges of Lysianka and Korets, Volyn region.
In 1900-1904, Yakov Isaakovich Belinskiy worked as a doctor in Lysianka. In 1912, the Jewish credit cooperative society was functioning in the shtetl. In the early 20th century the main occupation of the Jewish population in Lysianka was trade.
Brothers Bezbrozh from Lysianka. They were born in XIX century. Photo from Rootsweb
Civil War pogroms
During the Russian Civil War pogroms took place in Lysianka. These pogroms together with famine and epidemics led to the decrease of the Jewish population of the shtetl. On the 5th of July 1918, about 40 Jews were killed and 50 heavily wounded during the pogrom which was organized by the peasant rebels.
Later the detachments of the Volunter Army carried out a pogrom in Lysianka.
Below is the extract from the memories of Ihor Akselrod “Long-suffering Lysianka” which was published in the USA:
“Unsatisfied people from the nearby villages rushed into the shtetl and committed slaughter and pogroms. The Jews were hiding in cellars but very few of them managed to survive. Lysianka rabbi told about the slaughter and brutal murder of lawyer Erlikhman. Germans troops entered the shtetl to establish order. According to the decision of the german military court 40 of the perpetrators of the pogrom were shot.
Former shtetl’s market square in the end of 1940’s. From the book of V.M.Sherbatuk
When the rabbi was speaking at the funeral of Erlikhman even German soldiers and their commandant started to cry. However, the next day the Germans left and the slaughter started all over again. During this period the Jewish population of Lysianka decreased by 1,000 people.”
Between the Wars
In the 1920s, the local mikvah was destroyed.
JDC report about state of Lisyanka Jewish community in 1923 was published in Joint Archive:
Before the pogroms its general population was 8,890 families of which 1,000 were Jewish. At the present time it has 7,200 families of which 200 are Jewish. The numerous Pogroms which followed one after the other resulted in the ruin of all the Jewish houses. Of the 400 houses and 300 shops which Lissyanka had before the pogroms there are left now only 175 houses and 20 shops.
The following Pogroms took place:
– 1918: Headed by the Local Peasants
– 1919: Tutunik, Grigoriev, Popov, Sckolow, and Denikin
– 1920: Local Peasants, Makhno and Tovetkovsky’s Bands
– 1921: Various Bands
These pogroms resulted in 134 murdered, many wounded and violated. Lysianka has a district hospital with 15 beds. This hospital, however, is under the supervision of Dr. Giater, who does not give medical aid to sick Jews, and in general gives assistance only when paid in gold currency. There are 100 artisans and 10 workers in Lysianka. Industry is carried on: many are employed in making ropes of hemp. The tannery industry is primitively developed. There are also 1 steam-mill, 2 oil-presses and 1 grits-mill in Lissyanka.
In 1925 five families of immigrants originating from Lysianka organized a Jewish collective farm “Lysenkovskiy” in Kherson region.
Below are the memories of 90 year-old resident of Lysianka Mariya Afanasiyivna Yablukova about Jewish life in 1930’s:
“ The Jews in Lysianka lived in Sanatorna, Pochtova, Horkiy streets before the war. We used to go to school together with the Jewish children and sit at the same desks with them. My classmates were Vira Kaplun, Sonia Shmorgun, Freyda Royzenblid, Kheyva Holtsman and Khayka. Kaplun sew men’s wear, Lesia (I forgot her name) sew women’s wear, Yankel sold meat, the Krymchanskiys made candies.”
On the 24th of July fascists came to Lysianka.
The policemen painted yellow stars on the Jewish houses. A curfew was enacted for all citizens of the village Ukrainian and Jewish. Anyone breaking this order would be shot or hung. Any Ukrainians who will let Jews into homes, to hide them or their belongings, or help them would be shot. The members of the family which disobeyed this order would also be shot. The Jews weren’t allowed to leave their houses they were tracked, humiliated, and robbed.
On the 1st of August 1941, the Germans announced that all Jews of Lysianka district were to be shipped Germany along with their documents and valuable things.
On the 4th of August 1941, the entirely Jewish population were gathered in Lysianka and sent to Pochapyntsi forest in a column.
They said they were going to the station in Korsun first and then to some other place. Those who couldn’t walk were taken in the drays. When all the Jews were led along the streets people went out and watched them. They especially remembered a family and a young woman with the baby in her hands and her grey-haired mother. When the exhausted column was passing the last houses of the village the old Jewish woman realized where they were led. When she saw a group of women she began to beg the policeman to let her give the baby to these women. The exhausted old lady took jewelry out of her purse and gave it to the policeman. He took it and hit her on the back with the butt of his rifle.
One Jewish woman secretly left her baby in the rye on her way. It was Sunday, the Ukrainians were heading for the market to Lysianka and heard the crying baby. They picked the baby up. It’s fate is unknown.
The Jews were stopped near the forest where the summer camp for farm calves used to be. There was a well which the cattle drank from. The people said the first family that had died was the one with the little baby. The fascists snatched the baby from mother’s hands and threw him into the well. In despair mother rushed after her baby with shouts, the old Jewish woman followed her daughter and grandchild.
The fascists committed an awful massacre.
Well in Pochapyntsi forest
They snatched the babies from their mothers and smashed them against the trees and then threw their still live bodies into the well. The women were crying and getting grey. The old men, teenagers, and women were led farther to the Czech grave near Makar’s garden. When they finally arrived at the pit, the fascists ordered the Jews to leave their belongings and undress. The Jews were grouped at the edge of the pit and shot. Those who appeared to be still alive were shot with pistols.
392 people were killed in the Pochapyntsi forest. They all were from Lysianka district. Among them were Jews, communists, and prisoners of war.
There was a building of the synagogue in Lisyanka
The whole Petrushchanskyy family from Lysianka died during the war. Wife Esther Yakivna and two children were thrown alive into the well in Pochapyntsi forest. Her husband Yosyp was mobilized and died at the front.
From the personal archive of the history teacher of Pochapyntsi secondary school Mykhaylo Teofanovych Lavreha:
Only several Jewish families remained in Lysianka after the massacre. Among them was Lev Horovskyy. At first the fascists took his beloved dog and then in August 1941 they shot him at the border of the farm garden and the forest. His grave is still preserved. In the summer of 1941, a column of cars with Jews from Lysianka was passing the village to Horodyshche. One car broke down on its way down at the local hospital. The soldiers started to fix it when the Jews had got out. The Germans took 28 shovels from the locals, gave them to poor Jews and made them dig the graves for themselves. This place is situated near the old forestry and the drugstore. It is in disorder.
Some locals hid the Jews. One old woman Motria Lazarenchykha hid a woman and little girl who survived the mass shooting. People also remember one woman who was hiding the Jews for gold. All others saved them out of the kindness of their hearts.
Monument on the Holocaust mass grave in the Pochapyntsi forest
Khaya Hutnyk , the head of Lysianka Jewish community recalled the massacre of the Jews in 1941: “When the Germans had driven all the Jews to the well, they ordered them to take the gold jewelery off. At the same time they surrounded the Jews with sheepdogs. One young Jewish woman Fayina Liakhovetska was holding her little daughter on the hands and two elder sons were holding her skirt. Suddenly the soldier grabbed the little girl and threw her into the well. People started to shout but he ran towards the second child. At that very moment the mother rushed to the officer with the shout and hit him so heavily that his eye jumped out of its sockets. Several officers ran up to her, grabbed the children and threw them alive into the well. Then, they began to throw all whom they brought, adults and little children. Then, a Ukrainian family was taken out of the car, father, mother and daughter. They had the board on their necks. “Partisan” was written on the boards. They were also thrown into the well.
About 500 Jews were killed in Lysianka district. They were from Vynograd, Lysianka, Boyarka, and other villages, there were the refugees from the western regions of Ukraine as well.
We know names of only 16 perished warriors from Lisyanka district:
After the War
Approximately 20 Jewish families lived in Lysianka after the war. The Olshanskyys, Holempers, Spectors, Krymchanskyys, Bronevetskyys, Vekslers, Hutnyks, Promyslovskyys, Kushnirs, Bohoslovskyys, Shaposhnyks, Honcharovs, Vyshnevskyys, Meyerskyys, Holubchyks, Basovskyys, and Hofmans were among them. They had different occupations, such as cattle storage, sewing peaked caps, making candies. They were barbers as well.
The amount of Jewish population in Lysianka has shortened sharply. The majority moved to big cities Cherkassy, Zvenyhorodka, Vinnytsia, Kyiv, Uman, Leningrad.
On this place was Lisyanka Synagogue
During Gorbachov’s Perestroika (restructuring) Jewish families began to immigrate to Israel. The family of Petro Isakovych Veksler also left for Israel.
In 1998, 25 Jews lived in Lysianka. In the 1990s a Jewish community was organized. Its first head was Chaya Berkovna Hutnyk (1936 – 2014). Alexandra Holubchyk was the next head.
As of 2016, 11 Jews live in Lysianka.
Famous Jews from Lysianka
Leo Birinski (real surname Gottesmann, 1884-1951) was a playwright, a scriptwriter and a producer of Jewish origin.
Dibner Bern (1897, Lysoanka – 1988 , Winton, the USA) was an engineer and a historian.
Riva Davydovna Bisnovataya (1919, Lysianka – 2004, the USA) was a Soviet cinema activist, a sound engineer.
Lisyanka Jewish cemetery
The cemetery was partially destroyed during the Second World War; after the War, in the 1940s-60s, burials in the row next to the road continued.
Inscription on the oldest gravestone:
ר’ דובבר יוסף
נפטר כ’ תשרי שנת
29 сентября 1911
Is Reb Dovber Joseph
Died on Tishrey 20, 5672.
May his soul be bound in the bond of life.
Some info was taken from Lo-Tishkah website.