Niezyn (Hungarian), Nizyn (German), Niżyn (Polish), Нежин – Nezhin (Russian), Ніжин (Ukrainian)
NEZHIN , city in Chernigov district, Ukraine.
Jews first settled in Nezhin in the early 17th century, but the community was destroyed during the Khmelnitski uprising. They resettled there in the early 18th century. The Hasidic Tzadik Dov Ber of Lubavich, the son of Shneur Zalman of Lyady, the “middle rabbi” of Chabad Hasidism, died and was interred in Nezhin in 1827. The town became a center for the Chabad Hasidim of the Ukraine. It was especially well known while Israel Noah Schneersohn lived there from 1867 to 1882.
Shops in Nezhin. PreRevolution photo
In 1847, 1,299 Jews were registered in the community.
On July 20, 1881, an anti-Jewish riot broke out there and continued through July 21 and 22; most of the Jewish houses were destroyed. The military, which was called to suppress the riot, twice used their arms against the mob, killing ten of the rioters.
Nezhin businessmans in 1903:
In 1897 there were 7,631 Jews (24% of the total population). The Jewish artisans numbered (census of 1898) 980. The Talmud Torah has 98 pupils; the three Jewish private schools has 59; and the thirty hadarim, about 350. The general schools (boys’ and girls’ classical gymnasiums, etc.) have gave instruction to 142 Jewish pupils. The charitable institutions include a dispensary and a bikkur holim.
Nezhin town hall. PreRevolution photo
Since 1895 the town has had a Jewish loan and savings association.
Jewish population of Nezhin:
1816 – 570 jews
1847 – 1299 jews
1897 – 7631 (23,8%)
1910 – 9901 jews
1920 – 4987 jews
1926 – 6131 (16,1%)
1939 – 2725 (6,9%)
1959 ~ 1200 (2,6%)
1970 – 805 jews
1989 – 444 jews
2001 – 138 jews
The laws of the Russian Empire had multiple bans and restrictions on professional activities for the Jewish population and therefore Jews in Nizhyn could work only in transportation of agricultural products, while many were tailors, manufactured harnesses for horses and other necessary items for the town and village residents. In 1798, out of the 358 merchants in the city, only three were Jews, but by 1897, out of 481 merchants there were 303 Jews. Such increase in Jewish trade was due to limitations in their professional employment.
The manufacture of various tobacco-products, which formerly gave employment to many Jews who worked in small shops, is no longer carried on there on account of the new system of collecting tobacco-duties, which favors the concentration of the tobacco industry in the hands of the greater manufacturers.
During the period from 1897 to 1917, the Jewish population of Nizhyn decreased substantially, mainly due to emigration, pogroms and deaths of the male population serving in the Russian army
Oster River near University
In 1910 there were 8 synagogues and Jewish cemetery.
The waves of pogroms which overtook Russian Jewry in 1905 also afected the Jews of Nezhin. On September 2, 1919, Nezhin’s Jews were attacked by soldiers of the “volunteer army” of Denikin, 100 Jews were killed, many women raped, and much property pillaged. The dead included Shlomo Menachem Hein (1880-1919), Rabbi of Nezhin. The Yiddish poet Mani-Leib (Mani-Leib Brahinski) was born there.
After Civil War
In the beginning of 1920th 200 shops from 623 belong to jews. In 1920th-1930th in Nizhin was Yiddish-language school, jewish club and theatre (1926-1927).
In 1926, there were 6,131 Jews in Nezhin (16.1% of the population), their number dropping in 1939 to 2,725 (7% of the total population).
The Germans occupied the town on September 13, 1941. Most of the Jews succeeded in escaping.
Nazi administration registered 322 jews in September-October 1941 (men between 16 and 60 years old was only 14%). This list was find in Archive after the War.
From one memories it happened 6 November 1941 from another 7 November… All jews were ordered to gather in one place and was killed near brick factory. According memories in column of jews were near 500 people. Precision number of killed in that day still unknown. During next year of occupation many hidden jews were killed too.
Now we know names of 335 killed civilians and 218 warriors. Only 16 jews survived during Holocaust in Nizhin.
Nizhin was liberated by Red Army at September 14, 1943.
Yad Vashem published next interview of Holocaust survivals in Nezhin:
After the war
After the war evacuated families return to Nezhin. Rabbi was Yda-Izka Boryhovich Reznikov (1875-?).
In the early 1960s, the authorities closed the last synagogue in the city. In 1959 there were 1,400 Jews (3% of the total population) in Nizhyn.
In 1979, the Statistical Office reported that there were 625 people of Jewish nationality in Nizhyn.
According to census 2001 in Nezhin 137 Jews were registered.
In 2000’s, local Jewish historian Moses Men (1931-2007) published 3 books about Nezhin Jewish history: “Mittler Rebe and his descendants in Nezhin”, “Nezhin’s tzadikim and their contemporaries in 1800-1949” and “Jews of Nezhin 1941-2005”.
Moses Abramovich Men (1931-2007)
Head of Community is Mark Borisovich Lypkovych.
Help to community
If you want to help Nezhin Jewish Community:
Розрахунки в гривнях UAH:
Іудейська релігійна громада м. Ніжин
Код 25787113 р/р 26000042306; МФО 353100; Полікомбанк, м.Чернігів
Nezhin Jewish cemetery
Cemetery locates on the north-eastern outskirts of the town, in the area of Kozimirovka, near a road to the village of Lypiv Rih.
Rabbi Dov Ber Schneerson from Liubavitchy (1773, Liady – 1827, Nizhyn), son of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liady (haAdmor haEmtsai), second Liubavitcher Rebe, buried in this cemetery.
Gravestones of second Lubavitcher Rebbe and his son. Both graves don’t have inscription because nobody knows in which buried Mittl Rebbe
During the excavations as part of restoration works, the ancient graves were found which had been located under the barn, adjacent to the building of the synagogue.
Remains of Pre-Revolution ohel inside renovated ohel
The barn was recently demolished by the Rabbinical Centre of Europe during the synagogue reconstruction. Representatives of the Centre believe the graves to belong to the son of Rabbi Dov Ber, Menachem Nohum, and his 15 followers. New tombstones were erected for them. The restoration was completed in late 2007. The Jewish cemetery was restored with the help of the US based American philanthropist Muli Cohen.
Graves of the Menachem Nohum followers near the ohel
Restoration of the cemetery included modernization of electric lighting, repairs of the entrance and the fence. This restoration took place right after the synagogue reconstruction.
inside the synagogue in Nezhin Jewish cemetery
Most of the gravestones in the cemetery were stolen by local Ukrainians during the WWII.
Now cemetery consist of 5 parts:
1. Central part with ohel of second Lubavitcher Rebe and synagogue.
Ohel of second Lubavitcher Rebe
Grave of Shloime-Menahem-Mendl Heyn (1880, Chernigov – 1919, Nezhin), local Rabbi who was killed by Denikin’s soldiers
2. Pre-WWII part which overgrown by trees and have no trace of stolen gravestones (80% of cemetery)
3. Post-WWII part with graves dated by 1945-1970’s
4. Post-WWII part with graves dated by 1970’s – 1980’s
Post-WWII graves on Nezhin Jewish cemetery
5. The modern part which is still in use and consist of man’s and woman’s plots.
Modern part of Nezhin Jewish cemetery