סודילקאוו (Hebrew), Судилків (Ukrainian), Судилков (Russian), Sudyłków (Polish)
Much of information for this article was taken from Max Grossman’s personal website.
Sudilkov is a village located in the Shepetovka district of Khmelnitski (former Kamenets-Podolski) region. The village’s population is estimated at 5,277 (as of 2007). Sudilkov is approx. 34 km from Polonne and in 280 km from Kiev.
In the beginning of the XX century Sudilkov was located about 6 km from Shepetovka but is now a suburb of Shepetovka.
The population of Sudilkov has not changed in the XX century due to the extermination of the Jewish population and natural growth within Ukrainian population.
The town became a part of the Russia Empire in 1793 after the third Partition of Poland.
Before the Revolution it was a shtetl of the Zaslav yezd, Volyn guberniya.
Sudilkov was first mentioned in Polish documents in 1543, as a village.
The army of Bogdan Khmelnitsky passed through Sudilkov in 1654. It can be assumed that the first Jewish community was destroyed during this year.
In the second part of XVIII century Sudilkov became a center of the Hassidic movement. The village was known for manufacturing talleisim (prayer shawls) and printing Jewish books. Also, it was known for being the residence of the Besht’s (The Baal Shem Tov) grandson.
Rabbi Moshe Chaim Ephraim of Sudilkov (1748 – 1800) was born in Medzhybizh. He was best known as the Baal Shem Tov’s grandson (he was one of two sons of Udl, the beloved daughter of Besht) and for the work Degel Machaneh Ephraim, first published in Korets, 1810.
He settled in Sudilkov in 1780 where he served as Maggid until 1785. In 1785, he returned to Medzhybizh and served as rebbe there until 1800 when he died. He is buried next to his grandfather, the Baal Shem Tov.
Tomb of Rabbi Moshe Chaim Ephraim of Sudilkov in Medzhibozh
A man by the name of Reuven Schlenkev actually compiled a list of some of the books that were printed in Jewish printhouse in Sudilkov during 1795-1899.
The following information about Sudilkov’s Jewish life in XIX century was taken from the memoirs of Shprintza Rokhel, 1948:
However, the main claim to fame of Sudilkov was its Talis (prayer shawl) manufacturing. Talitot of Sudilkov were known internationally and their production was the main source of income for the townspeople. The people of Sudilkov believed that anyone who bore the family name Talisman or Talismacher certainly could trace their origin to Sudilkov. The silk and wool threads were brought from Lodz, and in the local workshops skilled craftsmen wove the Talitot. Traveling salesmen sold their product in all the Jewish communities both near and far.
The abundant surrounding forests were the reason that many wealthy lumber merchants lived in the town. Among them was the renowned many-branched Buchman family that controlled the lion’s share of the industry. Many of the townspeople, who for whatever reasons were not involved in Talis manufacturing, were employed as clerks and loyal workers in the lumber trade.
Jewish population of Sudilkov:
1765 – 397 jews
1847 – 1207 jews
1897 – 2712 (48%)
1939 – 1311 (20%)
1994 – 0
Especially noteworthy was the wealthy and philanthropic lumber merchant R. Hanokh Henekh Buchman who merited two tables [professions] and Torah and greatness were concentrated in his very being. In 1875 he transferred all of his extensive possessions, both in cash and in timber, to his sons and he himself, went on aliyah to Eretz Yisrael. All the clerks, his many employees who earned their livings with great dignity from his enterprises, along with thousands of other residents of the town and the surrounding areas came to take leave of him and to witness a rare event—how a Jew departs to go on aliyah to Eretz Yisrael in a horse-drawn wagon (as far as the port of Odessa)…
…In the beginning of our century, R. Ya’akov Leib Buchman lived in the town. He was also a very prominent lumber merchant, very devout, generous and his house was always open to strangers. His children who lived in town and in the surrounding area followed in their father’s footsteps and were well known for their many good deeds. That lasted until the Russian Revolution when life changed.
Besides Talis manufacturing, printing and the lumber industry for which Sudilkov was famous, the town had several tanneries, a factory for low-priced furs for farmers and some workshops that produced wooden barrels for the sugar factories of Count Potozki in nearby Shepetovka. From those days, the name of the owner of the fur factory, R. Nisan Handler, is engraved in memory. The factory supported many people in town who worked there as clerks and laborers. He was well known in the area for his good heartedness and his unrestrained philanthropy. The day of his death made a sad impression on all the town’s residents. No infant remained in his cradle as everyone joined together to pay their last respects and to speak the praises of the deceased on his final journey.
Shmuel Handler who was a very learned scholar continued in the production of furs for the farmers. He eventually left the business to become the rabbi of an important community.
In 1910 Sudilkov’s Jewish community established a Talmud Torah and private secondary school.
The business directory of 1913 lists many names of Jewish entrepreneurs in Sudilkov:
Also mentioned in this list is the Jewish Hospital which belonged to the community.
Miriam Weiner found such information regarding Jewish life in the beginning of XX century:
One side street led directly to the railroad station. There were a total of 221 Jewish houses crowded next to one another in the center. Only five or six of the houses had vegetable gardens. Thus, there was little or no unbuilt space where the Jews lived. Weiner also claims that about 50% of the Jewish families owned small handcraft businesses, 38% were merchants and brokers of cattle, horses and agricultural produce, while the remaining 12% were professionals and employed workers. In the years leading up to 1917 there were six shoe shops, five sewing shops and two hat shops. Among the professionals were three hair stylists, three glaziers, two tin workers and two leather specialists.
Civil War pogroms
The following information about the pogroms was taken from the memoirs of Shprintza Rokhel, 1948:
In the spring of 1919, the Sitchovik Ukrainian soldiers carried out a pogrom on the Jews of Sudilkov. It began on the eve of Passover and continued on the days of the holiday. As usual, the stores and homes of the Jews were looted and their residents beaten, leaving dozens injured and several dead. Practically all the Jews fled for their lives and found refuge in nearby Gritzev.
Sudilkov synagogue and pisant’s market. PreRevolution photo.
More than sixty years ago, the spirit of Zionism consistent with the principles of Hibbat Zion of the time was felt in Sudilkov. This pre-dated the start of the organized Zionist Movement. Here we remember the shohet R.Ya’akov. As a Trisker Hasid, he discussed the principles of Hibbat Zion at every opportunity. The people of the Beit Midrash said, “R. Ya’akov looked and was hooked.” Along with dynamic intellectual Zionist communal workers (the intellectuals who were also Torah scholars were many in the town), they were in contact with Rabbi Reines from 5663  and were activists in the national movement. Thus, the Zionists began to coalesce in the beginning of this century. In 1917-19, when Russia was freed from Tsarist rule, the town boasted various Zionist organizations. The most prominent group was Tz’eirei Tzion [Young Zionists] that included in its ranks most of the local youth. The Hehalutz [Pioneers] was also formed and many of them settled in Eretz Yisrael. But, as in all the Volhynian towns that remained in Soviet territory, all Zionist pursuits and community activity was quickly curbed.
On JDC website located report which show state of Sudilkov Jewish community in 1920’s:
Sudilkov is a small town four versts from Shepetovka and about 6 versts from a railroad station.
Before the pogroms it was a thriving town as it had numerous industrial establishments and primitive workshops which gave employment to all the people. The table given below is self-explanatory:
Before the war the population of Sudlikov totalled 6,200, of whom 1,700 were Jews. Now there are 6,500 with 1,300 Jews, 20 houses were destroyed during the pogroms and the number of Jewish shops has been reduced from 100 to 6.
The pogroms of 1918-1920 dealt a.heavy blow to the Jewish population, which suffered untold butchery at the hands of Denikin’s troops and other pogromchicks. The most cruel of these pogroms are as follows:
April, 1918 – Petlura’s Troops – 34 murdered, 9 wounded and 17 women violated
April, 1919 – Demoralized Bands – Entire population pillaged and violated
August, 1920 – Demoralized Insurgents – 5 murdered
Thus, about 40 persons were murdered and 60 families robbed of all their property. Sudilkov has now 30 widows, 16 full and 60 half orphans.
In addition there are 13 refugee families in Sudilikov, in all about 60 persons, with 6 widows, 6 orphans and 15 half orphans and 3 invalids.
Waldheim Jewish Cemeteries Sudilkov Shepetovker Society in USA
Relief was administered to the pogromized population and to refugees by the following organizations:
EVOBKOM: By distribution of clothing and foodstuffs amongst the poorest of the population
ARA: By the organization of a Child Feeding Station for 250 child ren, and by the distribution of foodstuffs amongst the poor.
At present there are no Jewish Children’ s Institutions in Sudlikov.
The Children’ s Home for 32 children (one half of whom were orphans) which formerly existed, had to be closed in September, 1920 because of lack of funds. Some of the children were transferred to the home in Isiaslavl. At present there are 30 children who are not being taken care of and it would be highly desirable to reconstruct the former children’ s home, or to organize a school and home for 100 ohildren. Part of the equipment of the
former children’ s home is still intact.
There is a dispensary in the town, which is visited daily by 5 to 10 persons. This institution is supervised by the Ouzdrav. It has almost no medicaments and must be supplied with equipment and supplies in order to enable it to give free medical aid.
Synagogue was here, 2010’s
A home for aged should be organized for 25 inmates. Suitable premises should be secured.
There were no Credit Institutions in Sudilkov for the reason that the Shepetovka Society of Mutual Credit took care of this town. A Loan and Savings Society should be organized in Shepetovka, which would also handle Sudlikov as formerly.
Miriam Weiner claims that in the 1920’s the Jews occupied the approximately 1,450 square meters in the very center of town. This may be an indication that Sudilkov was originally founded by Jews, since the historical center—the oldest part of the settlement—was where they were concentrated.
Zinaida Sendler gives Miriam Wainer a book of memoirs about Sudilkov’s Jews, 1991. Photo taken from JewishGen
The ethnic Ukrainians, on the other hand, lived in the area around the center. Weiner claims that in 1925-1927 the Jewish quarter consisted of “Market Square”, which lay in the middle of town, nine streets and seven side streets.
Jewish school existed here in 1920’s. It regulary recieve help from JDC.
Before the WWII Jewish collective farm existed in Sudilkov.
The Germans occupied Sudilkov on July 5, 1941.
On August 20th, 1941 a detachment of the 45th reserve police battalion killed 471 Jews in a nearby forest.
Sudilkov Jews were resettled in the Shepetovka ghetto during Autumn 1941 – Winter 1942. Those who were not able to be moved were buried alive in territory of the private yard.
Mass grave in private yard
More details on the Holocaust in Shepotovka can be found here.
Sudilkov was liberated by the Red Army on February 11, 1944.
Some Jewish families returned from evacuation.
Expedition of Pereburg’s Judaica visited Sudilkov in 1988 and filmed this video:
Miriam Weiner visited Sudilkov in 1994 and did not find any remaining Jews here.
Rabbi Israel Meir Gabbay visits Sudilkov in 2007
Holocaust mass graves
– near Martynenko’s house
In 1941 eldelry Jews were burried alive in this yard. After the war local Jews erected a small monument with an inscription in Yiddish:
To Remember the Casualties or Hitler’s Murderers
Tudeas the shochet [butcher]
Shalom Yosef YAROVITCH
Shimon the tailor and his wife
Inscription on Holocaust memorial
On this site 471 Jews were killed in August 20, 1941.
The site is located in “Kolonia (colony)” district, on the road to Berezdov, in a forest.
The approximate location of the burial ground is in a field behind the last houses of the village. There is no memorial at the site.
Cemetery located on the bank of the river. Part of the tombstones were wooden and were not preserved.
One of the oldest gravestone dated by 1741. Last burial here was in 1948.
Famous Jews from Sudilkov
Hava Lusternik (1904, Sudilkov – 1991, St.Peterburg), was historian and orientalist.
Isaak Landman (1880, Sudilkov – 1946) was public figure in different Jewish USA organisations.
Abraham-Moishe Shvarts (1888, Sudilkov – 1960, Tel-Aviv) was famous USA actor, director and playwrighter.
Asher Vilcher (1915, Sudilkov – ?) was a historian of literature in Hebrew, Slavic in Jerusalem University.
Famous American film director, Steven Spielberg has roots in Sudilkov.
Steven’s grandfather Shmuel Spielberg, who in America would change his name to Samuel, was born in 1873 in Kamnetz-Podolsk, Russia. Samuel (Shmuel) Spielberg’s wife Rebbeca Chechik “Grandma Becky” to Steven’s generation was the daughter of Nachman Morduhovich Chechik and Reitzl Nigonovna Hendler, who had eight other children. The Chechiks had a brewery in Sudilkov, a shtetl that no longer exists. Sudilkov was in the Kamnetz area, near the larger town of Shepetovka, where some other family members lived.
Arnold Spielberg relates that his grandfather Nachman Chechik “prayed and studied the Torah. His wife ran the brewery business. She was a shrewd woman. She and the children ran the business. My uncle Herschel, the oldest son, was the brewmaster. In those days, the old Jewish men, if they could get out of business and study the Torah, that’s what they did.”