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Medvedovka

Medvedovka
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Medvedovka (Yiddish Transliteration), Медведовка, Medvedovka (Russian)

Medvedovka is a village in Chigirin district, Cherkassy region.

In the XVI-XVII centuries it was a part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, in the early XVII century it got Magdeburg Rights, and from 1793 it was incorporated into the Russian Empire.

In the XIX-early XX centuries it was a shtetl of Chigirin Uyezd, Kiev Gubernia.

 

In 1790 an 18-year-old rabbi, Rebbe Nachman and his family, settled in Medvedevka  surrounded by numerous Hassidim. In 1798, he decided to visit Eretz HaKodesh,The Holy Land for the holidays of Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur. Having sold all his belongings he gathered money for the road and on the 18th of Iyar, on Lag ba-Omer, he left Medvedevka together with one of his students. 

Former center of shtetl

Former center of shtetl

The Rabbi’s family waited for him in the village until he returned in 1799, and in a year he moved to Zlatopol.

Jewish population of Medvedovka:
1808 – 350 Jews
1847 – 1305 Jews
1897 – 1453 (39% of total)
1926 – 48 Jews (in district)

In the XIX century, the main occupations of the Jewish population of Medvedovka were crafts (tailoring, shoemaking, saddlery, cooperage, and others) and small trade; fairs were organized in Medvedovka three times a year and markets were open twice a week. In the early 19th century, Jews owned several stalls: a wine cellar, a tavern, and a mill.

In 1844, there were two synagogues in the shtetl. 97 men and 113 women attended the first synagogue, six men and eight women attended the second one.

Medvedovka entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

Medvedovka entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

In 1910, a Jewish savings and loan association functioned in Medvedovka. In 1914, Jews owned a pharmacy, a bakery, six inns, two tea houses, and 66 stalls including 12 groceries, five haberdasheries, and 12 factories.

During the pogroms at the times of the Civil war town Medvedovka was completely destroyed and turned into a common village.

Here is a report of the representative of Cherkassy district I.Vernik to the committee of the Assistance to Pogrom Victims, 1919:

In late spring 1919, a Jewish pogrom carried out by ataman Grigoryev and local peasants asted for six weeks in Medvedovka. After Grigoryev’s people had been driven away from the village, the bandits hid in the cave near Medvedovka. They attacked the village every day. They had been robbing the inhabitants for six weeks until they forced all the population to escape from the village without money and belongings. 62 people were killed and six people were injured in Medvedovka. 200 people escaped to Cherkassy, 50 – to Smela, 900 – to “unclear”, and 100 – to Kremenchug. At that moment the bandits were  knocking the houses down in the village. When several Jews tried to get there to take some of their belongings, those daredevils were killed. The refugees lived in awful conditions. A considerable number had become sick with tuberculosis and typhoid. They needed emergency clothing,and even underwear to change into. The refugees from Medvedovka weren’t able to go to the emergency room because they had no shoes and clothes.

In 1926, only 26 Jews lived in Medvedovka district. The village was a district center.

This piece of metal was found in Medvedovka in 2010's

This piece of metal was found in Medvedovka in 2010’s

In 1932 the Jew Aizenberg was a chairman of the local collective farm. His wife was a teacher. At that time the church was closed. The authorities wanted to destroy it. However, Aizenberg had saved the building and a warehouse was organized there.

Almost all the Jews had left Medvedovka by 1939.

In 1941, after Medvedovka had been occupied by the Wehrmacht, two people were killed: the judge and his driver. We couldn’t find out whether they were Jewish or not.

During the war the head of the local collective farm Aizenberg was evacuated, and after the war he returned to the village. We assume that he was the last Jew in the village.

Jewish cemeteries

There were two cemeteries in the shtetl. They were completely destroyed. The gravestones were taken apart by the local inhabitants.

There are villagers’ gardens in Old cemetery. There are no visible remnants of the cemetery. In the 1990’s, a US citizen, a descendant of Medvedovka emigrants build a small memorial on the site of Old Jewish cemetery. It disappeared later.

Site of Old Jewish cemetery

Site of Old Jewish cemetery

The demolished New Jewish cemetery used to be located behind the buildings of the former agricultural complex in the village, behind the forest plantation, to the right of the road.

Site of New Jewish cemetery

Site of New Jewish cemetery

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