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Mezhyrichi

Mezhyrichi
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  • Polish
  • Russian
  • Ukranian

Main part of article was taken from here – translation , author Benyamin Lukin

Великие Межиричи – Velikie Mezhirichi (Russian), Великі Межирічі (Ukrainian)

Village on the Stava River (Pripiat’ basin) in Ukraine’s Rivne (Rovno) region. Mezhyrichi, known as Mezhirech in Russian and Międzyrzecz in Polish, was called Mezhirich Gadol by Jews; currently known as Velikie Mezhyrichi (Great Mezhyrichi), it has also been referred to as Mezhyrichi Koretskie. From 1569 it was in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and from 1793 in the Korets district of the Russian Empire’s Volhynia province. Between 1921 and 1939 the town belonged to independent Poland.

Beginning

Mezhyrichi entrepreneurs in 1913. Most are Jews

Mezhyrichi entrepreneurs in 1913. Most are Jews

Noblemen owned the town until 1831. The first references to Jews date back to 1569 and 1577. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, a local Jew leased the principal revenues of the town. The Jewish community suffered from Cossack attacks in 1648–1649, and in 1652 a tax was paid for only eight Jewish dwellings. In 1662, poll tax records listed 28 Jews, and in 1674, there were 35.

“Avrom der Blinder” (Avrom the blind), a Bundist organizer of workers in the brush manufacturing industry, Mezhyrichi, Russian Empire (now in Poland), ca. 1900.

Jewish population of Mezhyrichi:
1784 — 295 jews
1847 — 1808 jews
1897 — 2107 (68%)
1921 — 1743 (72,6%)
1946 ~ 80 jews

At the beginning of the eighteenth century, Międzyrzecz’s owners, the Lubomirski family, confirmed the Jews’ “privileges that they have possessed from ancient times,” including communal and juridical autonomy. As the community prospered, its proportion of royal tax payments collected from the Jewish communities of Volhynia increased significantly. By 1726, the Międzyrzecz community had achieved independent representation in the regional Jewish council. However, it seems that by 1739–1740, Międzyrzecz lost this status and was again subordinated to the Ostróg community.

In 1910th famous ethnographer S. An-sky visited Mezhyrichi and made next photos of Jewish life in last years Pale of Settlement:

During the first half of the eighteenth century, the kabbalist Ya‘akov Kopel Lifshits (d. 1740?), author of Sha‘are Gan ha-‘Eden (1803) and other kabbalistic works, lived in Międzyrzecz and attracted a number of students of Jewish mysticism to the town. At the beginning of the 1760s, the Besht’s associate, Dov Ber(1704–1772), became magid (preacher) there. He attracted numerous disciples from all over Poland to his bet midrash.

Mezhyrichi synagogue. Build in 1713, destroyed during WWII.

Mezhyrichi synagogue. Build in 1713, destroyed during WWII.

According to the 1765 census, 706 Jews lived there in 169 dwellings, and another 184 in neighboring villages and the townlet of Nevirkov. When Dov Ber moved to Rovno in 1771–1772, Międzyrzecz ceased playing a significant role in the formation of Hasidism. The 1784 census registered only 295 Jews in the town.

In the first half of the nineteenth century, Jews constituted about half of Mezhirech’s population. In 1808 a Jewish press began operating, and by 1847 there were 1,808 Jews in the town.

Before Revolution

In 1878-1891 Rabbi was Efroim Averbah (1857-?). The community retained a largely Hasidic character. There were 2,107 Jews in Mezhirech (67% of the population) in 1897.

In beginning of XX century there was 5 synagogues.

Stetskiys' palace in Velyki Mezhyrichi (now boarding school) from the park alley.

Stetskiys’ palace in Velyki Mezhyrichi (now boarding school) from the park alley.

In 1908, an “improved heder” (eder metukan) was opened in which the teaching was conducted in Hebrew, and a Tarbut school opened in 1926. In 1910’s Rabbi was Osher Zilberman.

In 1918 there was created a self-defense troop but pogrom happened here in August 1919. Polish army organized pogrom here in 1920 (30 Jews were killed and many women raped).

In 1921, there were 1,743 Jews living in the town (73% of the population). In 1920’s-1930’s different Jewish organizations acting in Mezhyrichi. In 1930 was opened school “Or Torah”.

Holocaust

After the outbreak of World War II and the town’s absorption into the USSR, numerous refugees settled in Mezhirech, doubling the Jewish population. The German army occupied the town on 6 July 1941, organizing a Judenrat and conscripting Jews into forced labor. Nazis carried out large-scale massacres during Sukkot 1941 and Shavu‘ot 1942 (~900 Jews were killed). The approximately 1,000 surviving Jews were forced into a ghetto and murdered on 26 September 1942 (were killed more than 900 Jews); very few managed to escape.

Village was liberated by Red Army at 14January 1944 and ~80 Jews returned.

In September 1992, a memorial monument was dedicated at the Tsegel’ny ravine, where about 3,000 Jews had been murdered.

Joel Mastboym

Joel Mastboym

They born in Mezhirech:

Joel Mastboym (1882-1957), writer, lived in Israel since 1933, wrote in Yiddish
Moishe Feygenboym (1893-1921, Deblin, Poland), journalist, wrote in Yiddish.

Places

Mezhyrichi Jewish Cemetery

The cemetery is located on the eastern outskirts of the village in Tserkovnaia Street, №35, it is a high hill near a petrol station. First graves dated by XVIII century. Holocaust mass graves located here, dates of mass killing are 22-May-1942, 23-September-1942.

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