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Kanetspol – XVIII, Sawrań (Polish), Саврань – Savran (Russian)

Savran has been an urban-type village since 1957, a district center of the Odessa region.
It has existed since the late XIV century. In the XVI – XVIII centuries, it was a part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1793 it was incorporated into the Russian Empire. In the XIX – early XX centuries, it was a shtetl of the Balta uyezd, Podolia gubernia. Since 1926 Savran has been a center of a Jewish national village council.

We visited Savran during our expedition in the summer 2018.
In 2019, Vladimir Chaplin, a director at the Odessa Jewish Museum provided us with audio records and photos of the ethnographic expedition to Savran in 2012.
An interview with unofficial head of the Jewish community of Savran Mikhail Usilnikov was especially valuable for us. He died in 2016.

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I didn’t find information about Jewish community of Savran in the XVIII-early XIX century.

In 1870, two synagogues were functioning in Savran. In 1889 there were three, in the early XX century – four.
In 1912, there was a Jewish savings-and-credit society in Savran.

In the XIX – early XX centuries, the main occupations of the Jewish population of Savran were crafts and trade.

Savran entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

Savran entrepreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

In 1914, Jews owned four drugstores, both hotels, both forest warehouses, two mills, the only creamery, 66 stalls and shops, including all 17 groceries, all 17 textile shops, all three shoe-making shops, the only furniture shop, all three wine stores and all six bakeries.

Savran Hasidic Dynasty

Rabbi Moshe Tsvi Giterman was born in approximately 1775. He is considered to be the first Savran rabbi, a great student and follower of Levi Itskhak from Berdichev. and also of Rabbi Barukh from Medzhibozh, a grandson of Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidic Judisiam.
(after Levi Itskhak’s death Giterman become a rabbi in Berdichev)

Jewish population of Savran:
1847 — 2548 Jews
1887 – 2900 (68%)
1897 — 3198 (54%)
1923 – 2851 Jews
1926 — 3415 Jews
1939 — 1101 Jews
2012 — 6 Jews
2018 – 1 Jew

In 1811, rabbi Moshe Tsvi Giterman became a rabbi of Savran shtetl and a leader of Hasidim. He founded one of the most powerful Hasidic dynasties. His authority as a Tzaddic increased gradually, he became as famous as rabbi Israel from Ruzhin and rabbi Mordekhay from Chernobyl. He arranged assistance to hasids by collecting money in Israel. Rabbi Moshe Tsvi’s hasids lived mostly in Podolia and partly in Bessarabia. He gained the reputation of a scientist and a wise man who took an interest in everything that happened in the world. Thus he was very popular among Maskilim (followers of Haskalah movement). In the 1830’s, he fought against Bratslav Hasids. In 1831, Moshe Tsvi left Savran. This probably happened because of the epidemic there. He moved to the shtetl of Chechelnik which later became a main center of Hasidism. His son, Shimon Shlomo, and his two grandchildren, Moshe and David, became Tzaddiks both in Savran and Chechelnik. Such an admiration of rabbi Moshe Tsvi’s grandsons was connected with a special status of Tzaddics from Chernobyl. When their father had died, they were adopted and brought up by rabbi Yokhanan from Rotmistrovka. The latter arranged marriages between his daughter and rabbi David and between rabbi Moshe and rabbi Aron’s (from Chernobyl) granddaughter.

Ohel of the rebbe from Savran’s dynasty in old Jewish cemetery in Savran:

Inscription on the ohel's door, 2018

Inscription on the ohel’s door, 2018

Rabbi Moshe Tsvi died on Tevet 27, 5598 (December 1837) and was buried at the old Jewish cemetery of Chechelnik.
After Shimon Shlomo’s death, his sons Moshe Giterman , who became a successor in Chernobyl, and David Giterman, who became a successor in Savran, competed with each other.
Shomo “Second”, Moshe Giterman’s son from Chernobyl, was very young when he became a very popular leader. His descendants served as rabbis in Podolia and Bessarabia. After the Holocaust some of his descendants stayed in the USSR while the others moved to the United States and Israel.
Rabbi Moshe Giterman’s (1827 – 1876) grandson rabbi Shimon Shlomo Giterman (1800 – 1848) and rabbi Shlomo “Second” Giterman’s (1858 – 1919) great-grandson were buried in ohel in Chechelnik.
Savran rabbi’s both grandsons rabbi Itskhak Meir Ager (1860 – 1926) and rabbi David Giterman (… – 1912) became his successors in Savran.

Plan of 2 Savran’s synagogue in 1896, photo from the collection of The center for Jewish Art, Israel:


In April 1918, the Jewish population of Savran suffered from a pogrom which was committed by local peasants. As a result, doctor Kleyn, the head of a self-defense detachment and his father-in-law Kirzhner were killed. In 1920 one more pogrom was committed by the squads of Volunteer Army.
Jews began to flee to Odessa and other towns to escape these pograms. In 1920, 41 families of Jewish refugees from Savran were registered. There were 151 people totally.

Between the Wars

In 1925, Jews from Savran founded agricultural colonies in Balaychuk and Friling (now Vesnianoye) in the Odessa region. 48 Jewish families (305 people) from Savran who had moved to the Crimea founded four agricultural collective the farms “Blago”, “Yedineniye”, “Slava”, “Trudoliubiye”. In 1931, 4,028 people lived on the territory of the village council. In the late 1930’s, many Jews left Savran for large cities of the USSR, especially to Odessa.

In 1939, 1,101 Jews lived in Savran, 1,227 Jews lived in the entire district. In the 1930’s, Savran was a center of the Jewish village council. In 1931, 4,028 people lived there.


It was occupied by the German-Romanian troops in July 1941. 600 Jews lived in the village at that time.

In late July a ghetto was formed in Chkalov Street. Since September 1, 1941 Savran was incorporated into Transnistria. In October 1941, all the Jews of the village were deported to Obodovka, Vinnitsa region by the Romanian police. Almost all the Jews died of famine and illnesses. 18 children and elderly who were not able to couldn’t walk in the column to Vinnitsa region were shot. They were buried on local Jewish cemetery.

In 1942 – 1944, a camp for Jews from Bessarabia and Bukovina was in Savran. More than 100 people died there.
In September 1, 1943 there were only two Jews from Bessarabia and eight Jews from Bukovina left in the camp.

In May 1943, 127 Romanian Jewish communists from Vapniarka camp were sent to Savran. In early 1944, they were returned to Romania. After Savran had been liberated in late March 1944, the Pustilnik family (three members) returned.

A monument to the Holocaust victims was established at the New Jewish cemetery in the 1980’s. The authorities painted a Star of David which had been on the monument.

Old Soviet's Holocaust monument in local Jewish cemetery, Savran 2018

Old Soviet’s Holocaust monument in local Jewish cemetery, Savran 2018

In the 1990’s, a Remembrance Wall to Holocaust victims was established at the new Jewish cemetery. However, it was not properly constructed because local builders stole a part of cement which was meant to be used to build the Wall. Thus, the Wall collapsed in 2017.

Opening of new Holocaust memorial on the place of Remembrance Wall, 2018. Photo from

After the WWII

We don’t know the exact amount of the Jews who came back to Savran after the war.
In 2018, one local non-Jew whom we met at the Jewish cemetery remembered following surnames:
– Misha and Faina Pustilnik. Misha’s nickname was “Golda Meir”. He died in Savran in 2016 but his children buried him in Israel. His wife moved to Israel and died there.
– The Shvartser family; their son Sema lives in Australia.
– The Solodky family; their son Sema lives in Germany.
– The Dovgonos family; father Isahak Romanovich used to sew hats. His son David lived in the USA, and the daughter lives in Australia.
In the 2000’s, Mikhail Usilnik collected money from the natives of Savran living in Canada, Australia, and Israel, and fenced a new Jewish cemetery.

In 2018, only one Jew lived in Savran – local math teacher who married to non-Jewish woman. He has some memories of his mother and uncle but refused to share them.

Old Jewish cemetery

The old and new cemeteries are situated near each other. Most of the matseyvas from the old cemetery were stolen by local citizens.
There are residential buildings and a school in the neighbourhood. The school soccer field is directly on the cemetery territory.

New Jewish cemetery

The new cemetery was used starting in 1910 so the oldest graves are deep within the cemetery and covered with thick bushes.

There was one more Jewish cemetery in the center of the shtetl not far from the market. Mikhail Usilnik (? – 2016) claimed that several grave stones from that cemetery were in the yard of one local Ukrainian family who lived one street away from the bus station.




  1. Thank you for educating Jewish people.

  2. Also thank you for educating non-Jewish people

  3. Guys. You made a little mistake. Person name is Misha Pustilnik not Ustilnik. He was my neighbor and good friend for all my family .

    • Поправил и отписал Вам на почту )

      • Вы не везде исправили. У вас везде Устильник

      • Вы не везде исправили. У вас везде Устильник. А также там жили семьи Дуб, большая семья братьев Мотл,Фридман, Хилык Фридман, Йосив Фридман, Гительман, Клюрфельды.

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