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Novgorod-Seversky, city in Chernigov district, Ukraine.

During the 14th century, Novgorod-Seversky was conquered by the princes of Lithuania; in the 16th and 17th centuries it was alternately in the hands of the Poles and the Russians; and in 1667 it was definitively annexed by Russia.


A Jewish settlement is mentioned for the first time in a residence permit granted to the townspeople by King Sigismund III Vasa (1587–1632) of Poland. According to the permit Jews were forbidden to sell meat in the town, except in the courtyard of the synagogue. Also included were several tax levies which Jews were ordered to pay.

Novgorod-Severskiy before Revolution

Novgorod-Severskiy before Revolution

During the Chmielnicki persecutions of 1648 many Jews in Novgorod- Seversky were massacred by the Cossacks.

The community was renewed only in the late 18th century. In 1847 1,336 Jews were registered in the community; by 1897 the number had risen to 1,956 (32% of the total population).

Here is a list of Jews in Novgorod-Seversky county – 1882, 1888 and 1910. You can download it.

Pre-revolution building (shop) in the center of Novgorod-Seversky

Pre-revolution building (shop) in the center of Novgorod-Seversky

In 1892, there were six private Jewish schools and a state Jewish school in Novhorod-Sivers’kyi. At that time Rabbi was Haim Bogin.

Before Revolution

The community suffered in the wave of pogroms which swept over Russia in 1905. On October 9, pogrom happened in Novgorod-Seversky. I find only that 59 Jewish families have suffered.

In the beginning of XX century in Novgorod-Severskiy acted 5 synagogues and Jewish secondary school. There were 2 jewish cemeteries.

Enterpreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directorie by 1904:

In 1914, Jews owned one pharmacy (the only one in city), all 4 storage of pharmaceutical goods, both bakeries, all 3 hotels, the only photostudio, watchmaker workshop, 35 shops and stores (all 10 groceries, all 4 manufactory, the only jewelry store). Jews were both timber merchants.

On April 6, 1918, units of the Red Army retreating before the German army savagely attacked the Jews of Novgorod-Seversky and 88 Jews (including the author A.J. Slutzky) lost their lives (from another sources 57 Jews were killed and 16 were injured).

In 1924-1935 rabbi was Zelman Abramovich Khurgin (1900-?).

In 1926 there were 2,089 Jews (22.8% of the total population) in the town, and in 1939 it dropped to 982 (8.56% of the total population).


Monument on the Holocaust mass grave near Ostroushky village

Monument on the Holocaust mass grave near Ostroushky village

The city was occupied by the Germans from August 26, 1941 to September 16, 1943 although by this time most of the local Jews had already evacuated.

On November 7-8, 1941, the remaining 174 Jews were shot by the 10th Infantry Regiment unit of the first mechanized infantry brigade of the SS (captain Gebel) with the assistance of Ukrainian police. Jews were gathered near the wall of the monastery for “resettlement” and moved to opposite bank of Desna river. The massacre of 174 people took place near the village of Ostroushky in antitank ditch. The rest of the local Jews were killed on the spot, when found in their apartments on the next day.

Last local Jews were killed in concentration camp together with more than 17000 Soviet captives in 1942-1943.

In a prisoners of war camp in Novgorod-Severskii, the Jewish prisoners received the most brutal treatment. The Jews were banned from wearing coats and warm clothes, they were forced into doing the hardest labour removing sewage with their bare hands, harnessed into carts instead of horses. The Jewish prisoners were kept in a stone barn with no light. They did not receive food rations and perished soon.

We know only names of 210 murdered civilian Jews and 106 warriors… You can find these names here.

Monument on the territory of former concentration camp

Monument on the territory of former concentration camp

After WWII

After the end of WWII many Jews returned from evacuation.
Officialy Jewish community was created again in 1990. Between 1998 and 2002 there was working Hesed canteen.

Head of community is Etya Kaufman.

Famous Jews from Novgorod-Seversky

Zino Davidoff (Zusele-Meer Davidov son of Gilel) was born in Novhorod-Siverskyi in 1904 and emigrated to Switzerland in 1911 where he started his tobacco business in 1930’s.

Zino Davidoff (1904 -1994)

Zino Davidoff (1904 -1994)

He was the eldest of four children born to tobacco merchant, Gilel Davidov. Even in his own autobiographical writings, the facts on his youth are a bit hazy, as he was quite young during this time and could only piece together some stories of his youth. His parents were either cigar merchants or cigarette manufacturers in Kiev. Fleeing the political turmoil, his parents left some of their family behind and emigrated to Geneva, Switzerland, in 1911 for a better life, where they opened their own tobacconist shop in 1912.

(b. 1924, Novgorod-Seversky), soviet journalist and writer, WWII veteran. Efim emmigrated to USA in 2000.

Efim Salita

Efim Salita

Alexander Isaakovich Harshaka (1908, Novgorod-Seversky – 1989) was a soviet painter.

Alexander Isaakovich Harshaka

Alexander Isaakovich Harshaka

Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery was founded in first half of 19th century and still in use. There is located mass grave of 1919’s pogrom victims.
Location: Along Uryts’koho Str., entrance between the house numbers 68 and 72.

Photos were taken from Lo-Tishkah web-site.

Jewish population of Novgorod-Seversky
1797 – 10 jews
1847 – 1336 jews
1897 – 2956 (32%)
1910 – 4386 jews
1926 – 2089 jews
1939 – 982 (8,6%)
2014 ~ 80 jews



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