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Rotmistrovka

Rotmistrovka
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Rachmastrivka, ראחמסטריווקא (Yiddish), Rotmistrzowka (Polish), Ротмистровка, Rotmistrovka (Russian)

Rostmistrivka is a village in the Smiliansky district, Cherkassy region. Its population was 2,156 people in 2001.

Before the revolution, Rotmistrovka was a shtetl of Cherkassy uyezd, Kiev guberniya. In 1905, it had two synagogues.

A Jewish community appeared in Rotmistrivka in the XVII century.

In 1863, the population of the town consisted of 1,946 Christians and 965 Jews. According to the census of 1897, 4,823 people lived in Rotmistrivka, including 1,785 Jews.

Rotmistrovka entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

Rotmistrovka entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

In the second half of the XIX century, the spiritual leader of the community was Rabbi Yohanan Tversky, and Rotmistrivka was transformed into one of the centers of Hasidism. He was succeeded by his son Rabbi Mordechai.

Rabbi Yohanan Tversky

Rabbi Yohanan Tversky

Rabbi Yohanan Tversky (1812, Chernobyl – 1895, Rotmistrivka) – the eighth son of Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobyl, the grandson of the founder of the Chernobyl Hassidic dynasty, Rabbi Menachem Nohum Ben Tzvi.

In 1911, the rabbi was S. Olin.

In 1914, about 350 Jewish families lived in the shtetl.

This mill belonged to local Jew Shaya

This mill belonged to local Jew Shaya

Jewish population of Rotmistrovka:
1863- 965 Jews
1897 – 1,785(37% of total)
1990’s – 0

In May 1919, during a pogrom by Grigoriev’s gangs, 14 people were killed and nine injured, the town was looted and some houses and shops burned. After the pogrom some Jews fled the city, mostly to Cherkasy and Smela. In December 1919, Denikin’s troops arrived in the town and all Jews hid in the synagogue. The soldiers tortured the Jews. The village was subject to various rioting gangs almost daily. The Jews, who had begun to return to Rotmistrivka after Denikin’s pogroms, fled the town again.

As a result of the pogroms the community has almost disappeared. Rabbi Mordechai from Rotmistrivka – son of rabbi Yohanan Tversky, moved to Jerusalem after the pogroms where he died in 1920.

Former Jewish school, it is a music school now.

Former Jewish school, it is a music school now.

Among the refugees from Rotmistrovka more than 80% of Jews died of the famine and diseases in Smela.

In the 1920’s-1930’s, some Jews lived in the village. Unfortunately, we haven’t managed to find more detailed information.

Former Jewish center of the shtetl. Now it is a park

Former Jewish center of the shtetl. Now it is a park

In January 1941, the Jews from Rotmistrivka were deported to Smela and murdered there.

Before the war a local Jew Sonia married a Ukrainian. During the war he served in the German police and hid his wife till the end of the war.

Remains of Jewish gravestones near the ohel of Rabbi Yohanan Tversky

Remains of Jewish gravestones near the ohel of Rabbi Yohanan Tversky

After the war Sonia and her sister Tsilia who used to be in evacuation worked as barbers. One more Jew also came back to the village after the war . However, he moved to Kamenka later.

Former Jewish cemetery

A Jewish cemetery was destroyed in 1950’s and the land was appropriated for private use.

Ohel in Rotmistrovka

Ohel of Rabbi Yohanan Tversky in Rotmistrovka

Turn right after the gas station, go along Pershotravneva Street. From the road one can see a white brick house with a red roof – the ohel of Rabbi Yochanan Tversky. There is a plaque on the fence with a text in Hebrew. The ohel is approached by crossing the yard.

Zaddik Yokhanan Tverskoy’s grave was at the edge of two lots. The owner of the first lot let Hasids visit the grave but later she forbade them.  This owner asked a truck driver to dig up the lot to look for valuables. The truck driver did not accomplish much – he died.

For some time the Hasids had to make a different entrance to the ohel. It was from the lot where they were allowed entrance.

2 enterance to the ohel:

After the owner’s death in car accident both the house and the land were bought by the Hasids.

 

 

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