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Orynin is a town of Kamenets-Podolskiy district. The town’s estimated population is 2664.

Orynin was first written about in 1474. Since 1569 it was a part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth In 1672-1699, it was under the power of the Ottoman Empire. Since 1793 it was incorporated into the Russian Empire. Since 1797 Orynin was a town of Kamenets-Podolskiy uyezd, Podolia gubernia.

Information for this article was taken from a book written by Beril Segal and Naum Bernstein. The head of Kamienets-Podolskiy community Aleksandr Shulyk originated from Orynin and Orynin historian Vladimir shared their memories.

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Orynin is first mentioned in archival documents dating back from 1474.

A Jewish community in Orynin dates back to 1582. During the times of Khmelnitskiy uprising the shtetl was ruined, many Jews and Frankists left it, a lot of them were killed. All the books from Orynin synagogue including Talmud were confiscated and burnt under the instruction of Catholic bishop Dembovskiy.

Former Jewish shop in the center of Orynin, 2016

Former Jewish shop in the center of Orynin, 2016

In the XVIII century there were synagogues, charity organizations for the poor and ill, and chevra kaddisha in Orynin.  The Jews worked in 65 craft workshops, at the tannery, which was built by the Jewish merchant Gutgerts. In 1863, four synagogues were functioning in Orynin, and in 1889 – five.  In 1893-1916, an educational institution in Orynin was functioning at the expense of OPE.

Orynin entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

Orynin entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

From the book of Beril Segal:

The stranger strolling at a modest pace down the Post Road between the Russian and the Polish churches could walk the distance in about fifteen or twenty minutes. He would have walked the entire length of the Shtetl. But there was also a width to the town. The bulk of the population lived in the streets and alleys that began suddenly and ended just as suddenly within the limits of Orynin. The Post Road was straight and was paved with cobblestones, but the others were not as favored.

The butcher’s alley, where all of the slaughter houses were located, characterized by the stench of slaughtered animals and dogs underfoot. T h e street began at the large animal slaughter house and came to an end by the fence of the policeman’s garden. There was the Variatsky Gass, where the merchants of dry goods lived. Bolts of cotton, alpaca, cretonne, and linen were stacked on the shelves of their establishments, which were simply the front rooms of their houses. Leather goods were also sold on the Variatsky Gass. The aroma of freshly tanned soft calf skins, karakul, and beaver always hung in the air as one approached the stores.

Rebuild Jewish houses in the center of Orynin

Rebuilded Jewish houses in the center of Orynin

A Jew could not own a farm, or cultivate his own field, or gather the fruit of his own orchard. Ownership of land was forbidden to Jews. In a country where agriculture was the main occupation of the people, the Jew was excluded from participation in it except for buying and selling the fruits of other people’s labor.

Jewish population of Orynin:
1887 – 1680 Jews
1897 – 2112 (42%),
1902 – 2839 Jews
1923 – 1630 Jews
1926 – 1797 Jews
1939 – 1508 (48,6%).
2016 – 2

In 1911, a Zionist group was formed in Orynin. Pinkhas Kremer and Izrail Drakler were its leaders. In 1914, there were Jewish savings-and-loan societies. The Jews owned 22 stalls including eight manufacture stores, 11 grocery shops, both warehouses of pharmacy goods, three mills, and all three forestries. On August 9th, 1914 a pogrom occured in Orynin. As a result, the property of ten Jewish families was destroyed. Such pogroms repetead many times during the WWI because many Russian soldiers pass frought Orynin to the frontline for a 3 years.

About the Orynin synagogues from the book of Beril Segal:

There were five houses of worship in Orynin. Three of them stood side by side, so that the singing and the chanting in one could be heard in the others. The other two were a little farther removed down by the river bank. The five houses of worship were designated as the Old Beth Midrash, the New Beth Midrash, the Zinkover Klois, the Tchortkover Klois, and the Old Shul.

The Old and the New Beth Midrash attracted the solid balebatim of Orynin. They were the well-to-do, the merchants, and all dwelled on the Main Street and on the Variatsky Gass.

The Zinkover Klois was so-called because its worshippers followed an Hasidic rebbe of the town of Zinkov, who was a descendant of the Apter Rov.

The Tchortkover Klois, sometimes also called the Sadigurer Klois, were followers of the Hasidic rebbes who held court in those Galician towns.

But the largest and the most impressive house of worship was the Old Shul. It was so-called because no one among the living knew when and by whom the shul was built.

Old Shul in Orynin, 1930. Photo by P. Zholtovskiy and taken from <a href=""></a>

Old Shul in Orynin, 1930. Photo by P. Zholtovskiy and taken from

While the other four houses of worship were nothing more than simple two-room houses, one room for men and the other for women, the Old Shul was architecturally distinct. The Shul was a conglomerate of several buildings added to the main structure. Its windows were small and were tucked away at the top of the high walls, near the roof. It had no heat, and in the fall and winter worshippers did not take off their overcoats. It was therefore also known as the Cold Shul.

The Old Shul was built as already described in the lowest part of Orynin. Besides, the worshippers had to go down a few steps before entering the Shul proper.

About PreRevolution Jewish education from the book of Beril Segal:

But good or bad times, the boys always attended heder, the Jewish school for children, and when we grew older we were sent to the yeshivah in the big city, Kamenetz Podolsk.

A new refreshing wind began to blow in Orynin. During the first decade of the new century modern Hebrew Schools were opened in many towns in the vicinity, Orynin among them. Th e modern features of the Hebrew Schools consisted of the following:

A house, a special house, for this purpose was hired. The house was furnished with desks and blackboards, and the pupils were seated in alphabetical order. They even wore a uniform and were called by their given names. Teachers, actual teachers, were hired. They were mostly young and graduates of teachers courses offered somewhere in Odessa or Kiev. Hebrew speaking was a novelty in Orynin. While everyone knew Hebrew, nobody spoke it in everyday affairs. It was considered a Holy Tongue and not to be profaned by mundane usage. The teachers in the modern Hebrew School spoke Hebrew and taught history and even geography and arithmetic in Hebrew. And singing. Nobody ever heard of a school in which time, precious time, was given to singing. They sang songs of Zion and of nature and even of love.

Civil War

During World War I the Jews from Orynin were blamed in espionage and sent away from the town. In 1919, the Jews who came back to Orynin suffered from the pogroms which were organized by Directory parts. Two people died in March, 15 – in May, 20 – in June during the pogroms. Favish Vainstein was one of the victims of the pogroms.

A Jewish self-defense force was organized in Orynin by Iosif Donovich Grinberg (1895 – 1935). He was a solider in the Russian Imperial Army during World War I. After the war came back to the shtetl after being captured by the Germans in 1918. There were 20-30 soldiers in his detachment. They cooperated with the parts of Red Army and fought against Petliura’s bands and other local bandits. Yasha Vainstein was in that detachment.

Group of Orynin intellectuals, 1918. Most of them emmigrated to USA. Photo from book of Naum Bernstein

Group of Orynin intellectuals, 1918. Most of them emmigrated to USA. Photo from book of Naum Bernstein

Between the Wars

The largest part of information about life of the shtetl between the wars was taken from the books of Naum Bernstein. The following residents of the shtetl are mentioned in his book. Orthodox Jew Idel Rosis and his family; wealthy Jew Mendel Shmiel-Yekev; Srul Sherman and Favish Vaksman; sisters Bichucher; watchmaker Moyshe called “Koptsen”(pauper); young religious Jew Moyshe Serkis named after his mother Serka.

Former Jewish houses in the center of Orynin

Former Jewish houses in the center of Orynin

Following families are also mentioned in the book.

–          Favish Vainstein had eight sons. Four ones from his first wife Sarah and four ones from his second wife Brana. Shloyma’s first son died in World War I.

–          Lekhtman family. The Mother used to sell sparkling water

–          Vaksman family. There were three brothers and each had a lot of children. Some of them emigrated to the USA and Latin America. During the German occupation only women survived in Orynin. Elders and children of this family had died.

–          The rabbi of the shtetl moved to the USA together with his daughter Sosia. His son Srul moved to Latin America. Son Peysia stayed in the USSR and lived in Kharkov before and after the war.

Around 1920-1921, a Jewish school and a pioneer organization appeared in Orynin. At the same time melemeds’ prosecution began.

Bernshtein family in Orynin, 1922

Bernshtein family in Orynin, 1922

In the 1920’s, a new mikvah was built at the expense of David Bernstein’s who lived in the USA.

Burekh Chertkover used to be the head of the village council. People called him Oshmekh.

There was a Zionist organization in the shtetl. It was destroyed. One of its members Tsolik Shteingardt was sentenced to the exile. One Zionist Riva Melman lived in the town. She would tell children about Zionism. She left for Moscow.

In 1926, the shtetl received letters from Iiol Grinberg, village Hebrew teacher Avraam Grinberg’s brother. He lived in Israel and described life there in all details. People used to read his letters by the whole village.

A man called “Der Litvik” was a rabbi in the shtetl in the 1920’s.However, some local Jews brought the other rabbi. It was a reason for constant argues.

In 1926-1927, children’s Zionist organization “Hashomer” was functioning in Orynin illegally.

Ukrainian school in Orynin, 1927

Ukrainian school in Orynin, 1927

On the photo above: 5. Kotsulevsky Oleksa, 6. Kuzik, 7. Kotsulevsky Gritsko, 8. Joseph Weinstein, 9. Srul Kalimacher, 10. Schmiel Brasiler, 11. Shayner (it seems), 12. Zbrizher, 13. Vera Kanitskaya, 14. Kopilevich, 15. Herschel Greenberg, 16. Brantzya Weisbleigh, 17. Bassia Weingurt, 18. Naum Bernstein

During NEP businessman Kolmen Bronstein was one of the richest residents of the shtetl. At the end of NEP, the authorities wanted to arrest him but he managed to immigrate to Israel together with his family just in time. There was one more rich person in the shtetl. Yankel Vaysblay had two sons and a daughter. One of his sons’ name was Shaya, his daughter’s name was Brantsia.

In the 1920’s the head of the producing union was Kolmen Gitler. He was in the occupation together with his family. The Germans were afraid to shoot them in Orynin so they sent the family to Kamenets-Podolskiy where they must have been killed.

In 1924-1925, a Jewish resettlement agricultural organization “New Life” was formed in Orynin. Jew named Nakhmen was its main agronomist. Leva Bernstein was its accountant. The organization was located in the building of the former manor house.

A Yiddish language school  was opened in Orynin. Iosif Grinberg was its director.

The following names of the Jewish children are mentioned in the book of Naum Bernstein. Iosif Vaynstein, Srul Kalimakher, Shmiel Braziler, Sheyner, Zbrizher, Kopilevich, Gershele Grinberg, Brantsia Vaysblay, Basia Vayngurt, Don Natanzon, Favish Bekerman, Velvel Lerner, Pinia Graytsershtein. These Jewish children studied in the Ukrainian school.

By the end of the 1920’s, the synagogues had been closed, Zionist organizations had stopped their functioning.

Jewish youth in Orynin, 1937. Photo from the book of Naum Bernshtein

On the photo above: 1. Abum Rosenblit. He died after the war 2. Sheyva Bit, killed in Orynin during the Holocaust 3. Surele Rosenfeld 4. Berl Kleiman, killed in Orynin during the Holocaust 5. Yasha Goldstein 6. Tsilya Bain She died in Orynin before the war 7. Boris (Beiresh) Feldman. He went through the whole war. Then he emigrated to the USA, in Boston, where he died. 8. The Shifra Greenberg 10. Naum Bernstein 11. Dora Drucker 12. Shamshtein Matvey Grigorievich

In 1935, the majority of the members of agricultural collective farm “Flag of communism” were the Jews.

There was no doctor in the shtetl in the 1930’s. There was only paramedic named Burekh Royfe.

Yakov Rudman was the head of the village council before the war.


After the occupation by Wehrmacht, in 1941 a ghetto was formed in Orynin.  At the end of the summer 1941, 2,690 Jews from Hungarian area of occupation were deported to Orynin by Hungarian authorities.  They were shot in ten days.

On June 21, 1942, the local Jews, refugees, and the Jews from nearby villages who lived in the ghetto were ordered to gather in the town square.  About 250 qualified workers were selected and sent to Kamenets-Podolskiy ghetto. 1,700 people were taken out of the shtetl under escort of the Ukrainian auxiliary police. 40 newborn babies, 530 children aged to 14, 650 women and 480 men were shot.

According to the memories of eyewitnesses, tinsmith Benyamin was cursing and threatening the Fascists: “Animals, monsters! Wait for our children to come back from the Red Army when they kill your Fuehrer! They will get revenge for your crimes!”

The Ukrainians settled in empty houses…

Only the head of the ghetto had survived. One Ukrainian woman hid him in her place. All his family died. People didn’t like him they said he had behaved unhonerably in the ghetto.

Having realized that they wouldn’t survive Vainstein family gave all their values to Romanovskiy’s family. He was a very honest and respectable man. He used to work in the Ukrainian school.  After the war they gave the values to the head of the ghetto.

After the war former German head of the village Kendzerskiy was judged for his cooperation with the occupants. He helped the occupants to destroy the Jews of the village and took all the gravestones from the Jewish cemetery to his yard to pave it. He was sentenced to death. Favish Pasternak saw it when he came back to the village from the front and found out that all his relatives were killed.

Relatives of the victims used to gather in the place of shooting on the first Sunday of September.

Orynin was freed by the Soviet troops on the 24th of March 1944.

After the WWII

After the war several Jewish families returned to Orynin. They had managed to evacuate before the Germans came. Among them there were the families of Yakov Blat, Shaya Blat, Boris Feldman, Grigoriy Fayzenberg, Grigoriy Sherel, Basia Sherel, Yakov Beyn, Sonia Rozenfeld, Solomon Barenboyn, Klava Giter, Polina Poliak, and Liza Lazebnik.

Building of the former cheder in Orynin, 2016. Currently it belongs to a Roma family. In the 1950’s, the locals discovered a long underground pass under it.

Building of the former cheder in Orynin, 2016. Currently it belongs to a Roma family. In the 1950’s, the locals discovered a long underground pass under it.

The appearance of restaurant “Podolianka” was connected with the name of Yakov Isayevich Beyn. This restaurant was popular in the whole region. Jewish cuisine was the basic of the menu. Yakov Isayevich had been running the restaurant by 1974, up to his death. His wife Ada Davydovna and daughters left Orynin a few years later.

Solomon Markovich Barenboyn took part in military actions, war veteran, worked as a head teacher in eight-year school.

Grigoriy Fayzenberg was a famous skinner and sewed hats.

Yakov Fridlevich Blat worked as a supplier in a village shop.

Grigoriy Sherel worked as an accountant in the same shop.

Shaya Blat organized a branch of Kamenets-Podolskiy association of the blind. Blind and visually impaired people not only from Orynin but also from nearby  villages and district used to work there.

After the war there was no synagogue in Orynin. In spite of the fact that many Jews were the members of the party they celebrated all Jewish holidays, prepared traditional Jewish dishes, and baked matzo.

Every year the Jewish population decreased. Orynin had been a district center by 1959. The families of Rozenfeld, Feldman, and Giter left Orynin in 1959. Their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren moved to different towns and countries. They live in Ukraine, Israel, America, Belorussia, and Germany.

In December 1996, Rudman family left the village for Israel.

Feliks Iosifovich Rudman worked as a driver in hospital, his wife Anna Yakovlevna worked as an accountant in the shop, and his son Aleksey worked as a History teacher. They moved to Israel. Their daughter Tatyana had left for Israel too.

At present, one family lives in Orynin, Shaya Blat’s grandchildren.

Jewish cemetery

There were the graves of the XVIII century in the cemetery. But in 2016, there were only PostWWII graves.

Older gravestones were destroyed by local Ukrainians.

Famous Jews from Orynin

Beryl Segal (1897, Orynin – 1980, USA), Yiddish writer.

Beryl and Chaya Segal, posing with a group of emigrants at Orynin, Russia early in 1918

Beryl and Chaya Segal, posing with a group of emigrants at Orynin, Russia early in 1918



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