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Chyhyryn or Chigirin is a city and important historic site located in Cherkasy Oblast of central Ukraine.

In the XIX – beginning of XX century, Chigirin was a canter of Uezd (district) in Kiev gubernia.

Some old photos of Chigirin can be found in this Facebook group

The Chronicles of Nathan Hannover mention that during the middle of the XVII century, the tenant in Chigirin was a Jew named Zacharia Sobilenko. According to one hypothesis, the Jewish tavern was more successful than the tavern of Captain Bohdan Khmelnitsky and this became the cause of his hatred toward Jews and the brutal massacres of Jewish communities.

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During Khmelnitsky’s uprising, the town became the Hetman’s residence and there was no Jewish population in the area. In the late 17th century, with the restoration of the Polish authorities, a small Jewish community emerged in Chigirin.

Center of Chigirin in the beginning of XX century, postcard of M. Skvirsky

Center of Chigirin in the beginning of XX century, postcard of M. Skvirsky

In the beginning of XIX century, here lived on of the first breslev hasid of rabbi Nahman – reb Ber from Chigirin.
In 1830’s, head of local breslov hasidim was grandson of rabbi Nahman – reb Avraam-Ber.

In 1802, there were 16 merchants in the town, all of them Jewish.

In 1859, there were four wooden synagogues and two prayer schools in Chigirin.

In 1864, two Jewish cemeteries were registered in Chigirin.

In 1865, there were three Jews among 34 representatives of Chigirin council, S.A. Radchevsky, V.I. Vydovsky and A.Y. Shchurovsky.
Five out of six merchants on the Chigirin town council were Jewish, as well as all eight wealthy tradesmen. Later, in the 1880s, almost a third of the council members were Jewish.

One of the central streets of Chyhyryn was Sofiivska Street (now Hrushevskoho Street). At the beginning of the 20th century, the photo studio of Mykhailo Skvyrskyi, a Jewish owner of a bookstore, stationery and photographic equipment store, was located at Sofiivska Street 28. From 1910 to 1915, Skvyrskyi’s photo studio produced over 50 postcards with images of Chyhyryn:

Stamp of photographer Skvyrskyi

Stamp of photographer Skvyrskyi

In 1881, there were 1,641 Jews in the Tsvitnianska, Vereshchatska, Sosnivska, Farpostianska settlements.

The owner of the manufactory wholesale and retail shop Berko Mordkovich was the founder of the synagogue in the mid XIX century.

In second part of XIX century, local rabbi was Nahman Goldshtein (1825-1894), talmid haham andprominent Breslov hasid. Photo of his symbolic grave you can find in the end of this article.

In 1891, the local council consisted of 57 members. There were 20 Jews among them. Jews lived mostly on the left bank of the river Tiasmin.

River Tiasmin in Chigirin

River Tiasmin in Chigirin

In 1897, there were four synagogues in the district center.
In 1899, Shulim Fayvishov Ayzenshtein was a rabbi in Chigirin.

PreRevolution building in Chigirin

PreRevolution building in Chigirin

In 1897, the population of Chigirin was 9,870 people, including some 3,000 Jews. The latter were mainly engaged in trade and handicrafts including 551 craftsmen, 204 tailors and 53 workers in the local tanneries. About 200 families each year applied for assistance from the community before the Passover. Of the 300 students in secondary schools in the town, 45 attended the Talmud Torah and four prayer houses operated.

In 1913, Berko Itzkovich Zilbershtein was official rabbi in shtetl.

Chigirin entrepreneurs in 1913, page 1

Chigirin entrepreneurs in 1913, page 2

Based on the archival sources and photographs of the late XIX and early XX centuries, we can conclude that Jewish shops were built on the Bazarna Square and the adjoining streets Milionna and Sofiyivska. According to four postcards published in the early XX century by M. Skvirsky, the owner of the publishing and photographic equipment bookshop, it is clear that market stalls and shops with storage surrounded the square along the perimeter.

PreRevolution Jewish mill in Chirin

PreRevolution Jewish mill in Chirin

Center of Chigirin, beginning of XX century

Center of Chigirin, beginning of XX century

Twenty two grocery stores belonged to the local Jews. Froim Nakhmanovich Zaslavsky was the owner of three wine stalls registered under the numbers 867,868,870. Nine haberdashery stores were owned by Jews as well as three leather goods stalls and 15 stalls selling grain. There were four fishmongers in Chigirin. Jewish traders also sold sweets and biscuits. There was one fruit trader in the shtetl called Srul Leybovich Genkin. Manufactured goods were sold singly or wholesale in 16 shops, owned by the local Jews. L.Y. Pavolodskiy owned the stall with the sign “Weaponry” on it.
In 1897, there were 16 Jewish kheders and three Jewish prayer houses in Chigirin.
During the XIX century a Jewish family Eyzik rented quarries on Zamkova mountain. In 1891, Nakhman Abramovich Eyzik paid 4,350 roubles to the town treasury for renting the quarries. In 1897, Feyga Nukhimovna-Gershnovna Eyzin rented a quarry.

In 1905, a wave of Jewish pogroms reached Chigirin. As a result, a lot of Jewish houses and stalls were looted.

In 1915, a postcard with Cherkassy synagogue was published. The synagogue was located between Sofiyivska and Dumska streets. In the 1930s there was a theater in the building of this synagogue.

Cherkassy synagogue on the postcard of Mikhel Skvirsky

Jewish population of Chigirin:
1897 ~ 3000 (30%)
1919 – 3097 Jews
1939 – 116 Jews
1989 – 5 Jews
2001 – 2 Jews

Shmul Fayvishev Ayzinshtein was a state rabbi in Chigirin in 1904-1908. B.I. Zilbershtein was a rabbi in the town in 1912 – 1915. In 1919, 12 out of 24 members of the first revolutionary committee were Jews: Khinia Ostrovska, Moisey Vaysberg, Moshko Liubarskiy, Nusim Belostotskiy, Boris Lisitsa, Nison Anapolskiy, Nukhim Boguslavskiy, David Brombrerg, Moisey Boguslavskiy, Solomon Tartakovskiy, David and Meyer Zobaki.

In February 1919, 3,097 Jews resided in Chigirin.

Civil War pogroms

In early February 1919, a 25-strong Jewish paramilitary organization was formed to protect Tsvitnianska Jewish community.

On May 24, 1919, another wave of Jewish pogroms arrived in Chigirin. The Jewish community also suffered from the units of Denikin’s Volunteer Army. There is no exact data available for casualties resulting from these pogroms.

Memories of Vera Lubinskiy about pogroms in Chigirin can be found here.

Description of pogrom in Chigirin from the book “Scroll of massacre”:

Between the wars

By 1919, only one synagogue and three prayer houses remained in Chigirin. In 1924, a Jewish prayer house Yavna was registered in Chigirin. All state registers of the prayer house were destroyed by the gangs when Jews were driven away from Chigirin.

So, during the Revolution and the Civil War (1917 – 1924) the Jewish population of Chigirin reduced greatly due to the pogroms and migration.
In the autumn 1929, forced collectivization started in Chigirin. A Jewish collective farm “New life” was founded. The Names of Rakhmil Stoliarov, Moshka Braslavsky, and Sonia Gertsik are among those who joined the collective farm.
According to the memories of old citizens, in the 1930s, a Jewish rabbi lived in Milionna street (now B.Khmelnitsky str, #42). The rabbi had a 13-year-old son who had learning difficulties. His nickname was “Boria-Klats”.

In 1939, the population of Chihirynsky district included 116 Jews.


In early 1942, a small group of Jews were shot in Chigirin.

In the Chigirin district, the family of Kryvosheyas hid a Jewish girl, risking their lives and freedom. The family of a Jewish blacksmith Abba who lived in Chigirin near the Tiasmin river were killed by the Nazi soldiers in the fall of 1942.

On March 8 1943, the Burlaky family whose mother was a Jewish convert into Christianity, were buried alive in the sands outside Chigirin. On the orders of the Nazi soldiers, they dug their own graves. The boys sang:” No one will find out where my grave is…” while digging. Five people died – Mariya Burlaka, her daughter Daryna, two sons Ivan and Fedir, and Mariya’s blind sister, whose surname was Pasichna. In the 1950s their relatives reinterned their remains at the local cemetery.

After the WWII

No information was found on the Jews who returned to Chigirin after the war-time evacuation.
In the 1950’s – 1960’s, Chigirin was growing rapidly. The factories of Chigirin received experts in various fields from other cities of the USSR. Ivan Leontiyovych Korsunovskiy, Yakiv Abramovich Kokhanovskiy, Yakov Kaminskiy, Volodymyr Izrailiovych Rozenfeld with his wife Rayisa Fedorivna, Viktor Vasyliovych Kokhan were among the Jewish specilists relocated to Chigirin.

In 1989, only five Jews were registered as residing in Chigirin; by 2001, only two remained.

In 2017, only a small number of assimilated Jews lived in Chigirin.


In the early 1930s, the Chigirin synagogue ceased its activities but was not destroyed. Later, the Vorovsky Theater operated in the synagogue building.  During the Nazi occupation of the city, the Chigirin Ukrainian People’s Dramatic Theater was located here.
After the war, until 1975, the building was used as a House of Culture. Later, it housed a district information and computing station.

The former synagogue building existed until 1982, when it was destroyed as part of another reconstruction of the central part of the city. 

Site of destroyed synagogue

During the XX century a synagogue near the river Tiasmin was repaired several times with a complete refurbishment in 1955. In May 1957, the former synagogue housed a psychiatric hospital. During the 1990s, a veterans’ center was opened in this building. In the early 2000s, the building housed some clothes shops, after that it fell into disrepair and closed down to the public completely in 2017.

Synagogue near the river Tiasmin

Synagogue near the river Tiasmin

Another synagogue was located in Odesska street; it was not possible to establish its exact location and what happened to it.

Jewish cemetery

There were  2 Jewish cemetery in Chigirin: on the left bank of Tiasmin river and on the hill on the right bank.

  • Right bank cemetery

There isn’t a single Jewish gravestone remaining at the cemetery as the last four were looted by the locals in 2011.

In 2012 in Chigirin old christian cemeterie of the mid XIX century were found a Jewish tomb with an inscription in Hebrew. The inscription held the names of the buried: rabbi Nahman from Chigirin who wrote “Parperaot le-hohma”; rabbi Zalman, son of rabbi Nahman; rabbi Nahman, son of rabbi Efraim; rabbi Girshel Ljubarski – grandsons of rabbi Nahman from Braslav, as well as famous Jewish sages rabbi David-shojhet and his son rabbi Nahman, rabbi Zushegat, rabbi Moishe-Efraim, rabbi Natan’s son rabbi Pesah Zaslavsky, rabbi Avraham Eivin, rabbi Boruh Efraim who wrote the book “Bi-Bei Anahel’” and many other famous Hasidic sages.

Gravestone was vandalised in 2014 but repaired.

Grave of Nahman Goldshtein "Chigiriner Rav" in Chigirin, 2017

Grave of Nahman Goldshtein “Chigiriner Rav” in Chigirin, 2017

Inscription on the grave

  • Left bank cemetery
Site of destroyed Jewish cemetery. Now this neighborhood inhabited by gypsies

Site of destroyed Jewish cemetery. Now this neighborhood inhabited by gypsies

Remains of gravestones from destroyed Jewish cemetery in local museum:



One Comment

  1. Thank you.

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