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Brusilov is an urban-type settlement and the district centre in the Zhytomyr region.

This article was translated by Daniel Pesin.

In 1793, after the second partition of Poland, Brusilov became part of the Russian Empire.
In the 19th – early 20th centuries it was a shtetl in the Radomysl district of the Kyiv province.

When the Jews appeared in Brusilov is not exactly known. The first documented mention of Jews in Brusilov dates back to 1609, when Polish documents mention the Pavolotsky Jew Michal, who kept Old and New Brusilov in rent. In 1611, Stary (Old) Brusilov was rented from the Jews Yakush and Mishka Kholoevsky. Brusilov received Magdeburg rights in 1585.

Center of Brusilov, 2021:

During the uprising of Bogdan Khmelnytsky, the Jews of Brusilov were forced to flee to Volhynia. After the conclusion of the Andrusovo peace between Poland and Russia in 1667, Poles and Jews began to return to the town.

In the first half of the 18th century, Brusilov became a kahal (Jewish community council) town. 36 villages belonged to the kahal.The census of 1787 was signed by the Brusilov rabbi Leiba Mendeleevich, the quarterly (urban ward overseer) Moisha Evshievich and Shmul’ Leibovich Shkolnik.
In 1787, 403 Jews lived here in 107 houses.

According to archive documents this building was called as "Jewish school Psalms of David". It could be a Jewish school, synagogue or Talmud Torah. It is a last Jewish building in Brusilov.

According to archive documents this building was called as “Jewish school Psalms of David”. It could be a Jewish school, synagogue or Talmud Torah. It is a last Jewish building in Brusilov.

The archive preserved a report on the vaccination against smallpox, which was made by the doctor Lahman Berkov to 250 peasants and all children in the shtetl.

Jewish population of Brusilov:
1775 – 412 Jews
1847 — 2884Jews
1897 — 3575 (53%)
1926 — 379 (7%)
1939 — 171 Jews

In 1849 there were 170 Jewish houses in the town.
In 1852, Jews owned 12 inns and 53 shops.

In the 1850s, Jews were forbidden to make vodka, and its production in Brusilov fell sharply, since it was the Jews who rented the vodka factory from the Poles of Chatsky.
At the end of the 19th century, the leather factory in Brusilov belonged to the Jew Levotes.
In 1850, a new synagogue was built in the town, which was located on Synagogue Street.

In the 19th century, Brusilov suffered from severe fires 3 times, in 1836, 1859 and 1887. The third fire began in the house of M. Weisburd, as a result of which the trading part of the town was damaged, and the main synagogue burned down. 31 houses burned down.
In 1900, 6,337 Jews (24% of the total population) lived in the Brusilov volost (district). Most of them lived in the towns of Brusilov, Rozhev and 2 Jewish colonies.

At the beginning of the 20th century, about 300 Jews from Brusilov left for the United States in search of a better life.
Jews made up half of the artisans of the town – 101 out of 200.

Market square in Brusilov, 2021

Market square in Brusilov, 2021

The centre of Brusilov was densely built up with tall wooden Jewish houses, which were used both as a shop and as a dwelling house.
One of the members of Brusilov’s burgher council, in the last years of its existence in the 1910s, was Mordko-Ruvin Gershkovich Kaplun.

List of enterpneurs in Brusilov, 1913:

There are practically no buildings of the late 19th – early 20th century left in Brusilov. In the park on Lermontov Street, several buildings from the estate of the Sinelnikovs have been preserved.

The archives preserved the appeal of the headman of the Brusilov synagogue “Craft Kloiz” Berko Knizhnik to the governor with a request to allow the money from the bark collection to be used for the repair of the synagogue.

In the shtetl on the river Zdvizh there were 2 water mills. In 1898, one of them was on loan from Meyer Moshkovich Pokras. In 1913, the windmill was rented by Srul’ Yosipovich Talalaevsky.
Most of the Jewish shops and stores were on the area of the old market square. Now at this place there is a memorial to the fellow villagers who died during the Second World War.

From the end of the 19th century, a private Jewish hospital functioned in Brusilov, which was located at the beginning of the modern Karl Marx Street. In 1898, Peisakh Zhuk worked as a doctor in it, and in the early 1900s – Yosif Yakovich Fridman, in 1909-1911 – Simon Eliezer Izekilievich Fainzinger.

PreRevolution building of Brusilov hospital

PreRevolution building of Brusilov hospital

In 1912, 2 doctors worked in the Jewish hospital – Zisya Abramovich Nudelman and Itsyk Meyerovich Finkelshtein, two dentists – Mark Yegudovich Melamed and Abram Mirovich Messonzhnik and two midwives – R.A. Lipovskaya and H.O. Rakhmalskaya.

The first pharmacy was opened in 1840 by the Polish pharmacist Marcinchik. In 1907-1911, the pharmacy belonged to Abram Berkov Goldman, and Khuna Shimonovna Binzeig worked there as a pharmacist. At the end of 1911, Isaac Ginzburg became the owner of the pharmacy. In 1915, there were 2 pharmacies in the town, and both belonged to Jews – Tsiva Maze and Lazar Berkhin.
In 1900, there were 3 synagogues in the town: the first was located not far from the Jewish cemetery on the modern Taras Shevchenko Street, the second presumably on the site of the modern village administration, and the third on the territory of the modern Brusilov school number 1.

The rabbis in Brusilov were:
– since 1873 – Yehuda-Leib Vetshtein
– since 1893 – Shmuel Yitzchok Perluk
– since 1899 – Yosef Kaznachey
– since 1905 – Yosef Friedman
– since 1908 – Shimon-Leizor Khaskilev Feinzinger
– in 1912-1915 – Yitzchok Meerovich Finkelstein

In the 1910s, a cell of the Jewish party Bund operated in the town.
In 1908-1909 the Jewish school “David’s Psalms” was built for the money of box collection (shechita tax). Most likely it was used as a synagogue. The building has survived and belongs to the village administration.

In 1905, a pogrom took place in the shtetl, but I could not find any information about the victims or the damage done.

There were two Jewish colonies on the territory of the Brusilov Volost:

– Rozhevskaya

In 1900, there were 41 households in the colony, where 727 inhabitants were sold. There was a synagogue in the colony and there were 5 leather factories. In 1907, there were 67 households in the colony. Now the territory of the colony is part of the village of Rozhkov (current Shevchenko Street).

– Sitnyakovskaya
In 1900, there were 40 households in the colony, where 672 inhabitants were sold. There was a synagogue in the colony. In 1910, there were 53 households in the colony.
Now the territory of the colony is part of the village of Sytnyaki.

In 1909, the newspaper Kievskiye Vesti wrote about a robbery attack on a group of Jews from Radomyshl, who were being taken to a fair in Brusilov by a balagul David Kozhukhovsky. During the attack, Shulim Khandros, David Zhitnik, Aron Baranovsky, David Khandros were killed and Sholom Kridentser was wounded.

PreRevolution building in the center of Brusilov

PreRevolution building in the center of Brusilov

In 1899-1911, the state rabbi of the Radomysl district was Sender Yakovich Grinshpun, and in 1912-1915 – Aron Mendel Schneersohn.
In 1900-1915 Usher Genzel-Leibovich Yampolsky was the official rabbi of the Skvirsky district.
In 1912-1915, two Jews from Khodorkov, Srul Ovseevich Rabinovich and Yosif Ovseevich Shaiman, were members of the Skvir district council.

Civil War

With the beginning of the Russian Revolution of 1917, Brusilov’s Jews were subjected to constant pogroms.

Since the only force that did not carry out pogroms were the communists, many Jewish young men joined the Red Army. Brothers Baruch and Boris Levin left Brusilov for the Red Army.

Baruch in the future became the Soviet film director Benedikt Nord.

After the February Revolution of 1917, a legal Bolshevik organization was created in Brusilov. Local Jews Moses Tokarsky and Adel Moiseevna Rudenko were elected to the organizing committee.

On June 1, 1919, a pogrom took place in the town, organized by detachments of atamans Sokolovsky and Ogorodnik. As a result of which up to 300 Jews were killed and the town was almost completely burned down. The surviving Jews buried their brothers and left en masse for Kyiv. Many Jews fled to the nearby town of Kornin.

More information about pogroms in Brusilov can be find and

Ruins of old PreRevolution house in the center of Brusilov, 2021

Ruins of old PreRevolution house in the center of Brusilov, 2021

Between the WWI and WWII

As a result of the pogroms, the Jewish population of the town became several times smaller.

In 1923, only 379 Jews lived here.
In the 1920s, with the start of the New Economic Policy, Jews again began to open shops and small industries.

In 1928, 5 collective farms were created in the town, one of them was Jewish, which was called “General Labor”.

But due to collectivization and difficult living conditions in the former shtetl, Jews moved to other cities, especially Kyiv and Zhytomyr.

Abraham Maisenberg was the only photographer in the town in the 1930s. He arrived in the 1920s from Zhytomyr, but left to live in Kyiv in the late 1930s.

In the 1990s, his daughter, already in the USA, gave an interview to the Shoa Foundaition and provided family photos with Brusilov:

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In 1929 a new school building was built. Shtilerman was its director.

In 1931, a Jewish labor school operated in Brusilov. Its premises were located on the face of Rozhavskaya. When it was closed I did not manage to find out.

In 1930s, the entire central street of former shtetl was inhabited by Jews. In the 1930s, there were two synagogues in the town – one Orthodox and the other less orthodox.
The photographer Maisenberg was invited to the second synagogue as a cantor for holidays. The second synagogue consisted of two rooms, with men praying in one and women in the other.

In 1937 Grinberg was in charge of the village shop.

By 1939, only 171 people remained in the Jewish population. That is, the vast majority of Jews left Brusilov.


I managed to find fragmentary information about the Holocaust in Brusilov.

According to the local historian Svyatnenko, in 1941 the Germans rounded up all the remaining Jews and shot them in the Jewish cemetery. Then 58 people were killed. Jews in hiding and betrayed by their neighbors or captured policemen, as well as Jews from neighboring villages, were already shot together with the non-Jewish population near the school. A memorial has now been erected at this site.

Mass grave near Brusilov school, 2021

Mass grave near Brusilov school, 2021

According to other sources, the execution took place in three stages: 10 Oct. 1941 25 Jews were shot, 15 Oct. — 12, 20 Oct. 1941 – 10 Jews.

After the WWII

After the war, several Jewish families returned to the town. But I did not manage to find out the full list of surnames. One of them is the Zavadskys, they lived at the end of Frank Street. The locals also remember baba Kilya, who was a dressmaker.

But in the 1980s, only a few Jewish pensioners lived in Brusilov, and their children lived in Zhitomir and Kyiv.

Also, several Jews were sent to work in Brusilov from other places.

In the 1960s-1970s, the entire centre of the town was built up with old Jewish pre-revolutionary houses. Some of them stood until the end of the 1990s.

After the Chernobyl disaster, several thousand people from the Chernobyl region were resettled in Brusilov. Among them were several Jewish families. One of those who arrived, Tatyana Shilman, worked on the radio.

The last Jews died or left Brusilov in the 1990s…

Famous Jews from Brusilov

David Ignatov (real name Ignatovsky) (1885, Brusilov – 1954, New York), prose writer, wrote in Yiddish.

Benedikt Naumovich Nord (real name Levin) (1901, Brusilov – 1965, Moscow), Soviet director. Born in Brusilov in the family of a merchant.

Jewish cemetery

There were 2 Jewish cemeteries in Brusilov. The exact location of the oldest of them is not known.

The Jewish cemetery known to us was located on the eastern outskirts of Brusilov. It was quite large and was located on both sides of the road that leads to the village of Khomutets.
It was here that in 1941 the Germans shot the Jews of Brusilov, who could not evacuate.

It is unknown when it was destroyed. But I can assume that it happened in the 1940s-1950s. After the war, sand was taken from the territory of the Jewish cemetery for construction, and according to the recollections of old-timers, bones and skulls were often found in the sand.

In 2021, during our visit, the territory of the cemetery was planted with an artificial pine forest. There was no trace of graves here.

Site of Brusilov Jewish cemetery

Site of Brusilov Jewish cemetery

Site of Brusilov Jewish cemetery

Site of Brusilov Jewish cemetery

Site of Brusilov Jewish cemetery

Site of Brusilov Jewish cemetery







One Comment

  1. This is the best article I have read about Brusilov. My
    Mother was born there. She had several siblings. Her father left for Canada in 1912. He brought his family over to Canada in 1913. Thank you for such a clear article.

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