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Most information about Justingrad was taken from book “Sokolievka/Justingrad: A Century of Struggle and Suffering in a Ukrainian Shtetl”, New York 1983.
You can download a text version from Jewishgen or pfd version from my Google Docs.

Another book is “Descendants of Candle Maker Kaprove”, Philadelphia, Dorrance 1969

סוקוליבקה ,יוסטינגרד (Yiddish), Justingrad (Formerly called), Justynhrad, Yustingrod (Polish), Загайполь(Russian), Zagaipol, Sokolivka, Юстiнград (Ukrainian)

Justingrad is a Jewish shtetl which was completely destroyed in the XX century. Now it is a part of a small Sokolivka village in the Zhashkiv district, Cherkassy region. Current population of Sokolivka is less than 1290 people.

Justingrad was approx. 28 km from Zhashkov and in 42 km from Uman.

Justingrad was founded in 1825, in the XIX – beginning of the XX century as a shtetl of Lipovets Uyezd of Kiev Gubernia. Sokolivka is a village on the opposite side of the river and formed a part of the Uman Uyezd.


Jewish population of Justin:

1765 – 585 Jews
1897 – 2521 Jews
1926 – 762 Jews
1939 ~ 150 Jews
1980 – 0

The Jewish community of Sokolivka appeared in the second half of the 18th century. In 1760, the owner of Sokolivka, Francis Pototski, issued a decree whereby all Christians and Jews who wished to settle in the town were exempt from taxes on spirits, beer and honey for three years. In 1765, there were around 585 Jews in Sokolivka and the surrounding villages.

In 1825, Nicholas I issued a law restricting the rights of Jews to choose their place of residence and occupation. A military settlement was set up in Sokolivka and the Jewish population was expelled. The Jews bought the land from the landowner on the other side of the lake, and founded a new settlement. They named the place of their settlement Justingrad, so it appears, after the name of Justina, proprietress of the estate from whom they acquired the lots for their houses.

The people never quite accepted the name of this settlement. They were the people of Sokolievka, they and their forefathers, and so they also began to call the new settlement Sokolievka. The name Justingrad was used only in official documents and on postal addresses. It was inscribed in large letters on the sign of the drugstore and other community institutions.

Justingrad on the map, 1846

Justingrad on the map, 1846

From year to year the new settlement grew and became a town. In the year 1852 Rabbi Reb Gedaliah Aharon came to settle here. He was then a famous Tzaddik in his city of Linitz, and he had many Chassidim (as followers).

As time passed, gentiles settled in the surrounding area, mostly farmers. Strong relationships in trade and in occasional employment developed between the settlers and the Jews. They were also included in the town census as residents of the town. In the population census of 1897, the total number of inhabitants reached 3,194, of whom 2,521 were Jews and 673 non–Jews.

Bridge between ukrainian Sokolovka and former shtetl Justingrad, 2018

Bridge between ukrainian Sokolovka and former shtetl Justingrad, 2018

The Synagogues of Sokolievka

Mr. Peretz Shuman, a Sokolievker settled in Buffalo, in one of his letters, tallied all the synagogues in the town:

– the synagogue of Rabbi Pinchas;
– the synagogue of the Tolner Chassidim;
– the “Big Bess Medrash”; the one called ‘Dos Shulech’l’ established by a group which withdrew from the first.
– the synagogue of the Kontakozov Chassidim;
– the one called “Dos Shulech’l”, “the little synagogue,” favored by the craftsmen
– the second “Shulech’l”, established by a group which withdrew from the first

There were six synagogues in the town, and each synagogue had its ‘chazzan’ (cantor), its ‘Ba’al Korei’ (Torah reader) and its ‘Shammos’ (sexton). Their maintenance depended on the synagogue congregation. An important source of their income were the holidays and family celebrations: circumcisions, engagements, weddings.

The town had four ‘shoctim’ (approved slaughterers for kosher meat) who slaughtered cattle in the town abbatoir, and poultry, which were brought to their hoses. Several of these had been granted ‘smicha’ to ‘paskin shalles’ (equivalent to rabbinical ordination, with authority to decide questions of kashruth). Some of them also acted as a Board of Arbitration in disputes between one and another.

Justingrad enterpreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

Justingrad enterpreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directories by 1913

According to the recollection of Mr. Peretz Shuman, in his time there were twelve ‘melamdim’, Hebrew teachers, each with his own ‘cheder’, and all of them poverty–stricken. Tuition fees paid by parents were extremely low. Children were enrolled in a ‘cheder’ only for half a year at a time, for one ‘z’man’, one term. Twice a year, at the end of the summer and at the end of the winter, an inter–session time, ‘melamdim’ would be going from door to door to convince parents to continue to send the pupils to them.

City plan

The plan of the city was provided in “Sokolievka/Justingrad” book:

Sketch of Justingrad center, not in scale

Sketch of Justingrad center, not in scale

Near the courtyard of the Rabbi was the house of the ‘Dayan’, to whom would come questions dealing with the dietary laws (kashruth), executions of contracts, litigation of disputes between one man and another, sometimes between a Jew and a Gentile. Also nearby stood the communal bathhouse.

The Modernized Cheder

Yitzchak Yoel Kuzminsky was also the initiator of the modernized ‘Cheder’ in Sokolievka. Thanks to his connections with the enlightened ‘maskilim’ of the shtetl, some fifteen pupils, children of “cheder” age, were assembled and entrusted to Baruch Bernstein as their teacher (‘moreh’). He spoke Hebrew (as a living language) and had teaching experience. He was acquainted with the new method of teaching reading of that day, called the oral method and the Invrit B’Ivrit method of teaching “the Hebrew language in Hebrew”, without translations into Yiddish.

This modern “Cheder” was held in a small room in the home of Yitzchak Yoel’s parents. One of the pupils was his younger brother Alick.

The rapid progress of the children in reading and in speaking Hebrew on the shtetl streets made a strong impression, and this small modernized cheder exercised great influence on Hebrew education in the shtetl. Teachers who were, so to speak, “progressive”, discarded texts that used Yiddish translations and adopted HaDibur Halvri (“The Hebrew Word”) of M. Krinsky, with its many easy conversations and illustrations for discussion, from which the children by themselves learned the Hebrew language and to speak Hebrew.[69] The modernized ‘cheder’ used as a text the P’rakim Rishonim (“First Chapters”) of Jacob Fichman, whose poetic spirit was much loved by the children. The modernized ‘cheder’ was set up in 1912 and soon afterward a modern Hebrew School was opened in the town.

The Post Office

The shtetl suffered through many years for lack of proper postal communications. Letters, packages and money were sent from Sokolievka by wagoners, and special messengers. Mail sent to Sokolievka from other places arrived after much delay through the nearby village of Popivka. From there, it was brought by an old Jewish man, Chayyim Yehoshua, who distributed it to homes and was paid for his trouble. All the mail, few letters and fewer periodicals, were tied up in his kerchief – a small one. With the opening of the post office in the shtetl, a sense of extension came to the settlement. The shtetl ceased to be isolated. A doctor, or any enlightened person, to whom a post office was a necessity, now more readily settled in the town. The post office was both an economic and a cultural stimulant to the shtetl. Though the post office not only letters and packages, but many periodicals and books came, in Hebrew, In Yiddish and even in Russian.

Family group picture taken in Justingrad 1912 on the eve of the departure for America of newlyweds David Feldstein (1884 – 1964) and Adella Logvin Feldstein (1892-1973) Standing left. Seated center, Adella's parents, David Logvin (d. 1916?) and Blume Leah Logvin (d. 1937, Brooklyn): she was blinded in a 1919 pogrom. Behind them, infant Leo Troy (d. 1981, Scranton), in the arms of his mother, Adella's sister Maryam Troyaker (later Firdman) who was killed in the Nazi Holocaust with her other children. Standing right, Adella's brother Lazar Logvin (d. 1969, Buffalo) with his wife Esther Krenzel Logvin (d. 1918).

Family group picture taken in Justingrad 1912 on the eve of the departure for America of newlyweds David Feldstein (1884 – 1964) and Adella Logvin Feldstein (1892-1973)
Standing left. Seated center, Adella’s parents, David Logvin (d. 1916?) and Blume Leah Logvin (d. 1937, Brooklyn): she was blinded in a 1919 pogrom.
Behind them, infant Leo Troy (d. 1981, Scranton), in the arms of his mother, Adella’s sister Maryam Troyaker (later Firdman) who was killed in the Nazi Holocaust with her other children.
Standing right, Adella’s brother Lazar Logvin (d. 1969, Buffalo) with his wife Esther Krenzel Logvin (d. 1918).

The “Bank”

Previously someone who was in need of a loan had to turn to a usurious money lender or to the charitable Free Loan Society (‘Chevra Gmilas–Chassadim’). In either choice the application for a loan involved unpleasantness. A borrower had to accept humiliation, and bring personal belongings as security collateral: a valuable garment, a pillow, a silver vessel or jewellery. Whoever borrowed from a moneylender had to pay very high interest usury.

And hereupon arose a cooperative among the merchants of the younger generation, led by Joseph (Yossel) Chertov, an intelligent and understanding man, who succeeded, after many approaches to the authorities, in receiving permission to establish a “Savings and Loan Fund”. This depository, for short called “the Bank” was a very useful institution and helped advance industry and commerce. To get a loan from the Bank was not a matter of pleading and a pledge. The borrower simply filled in an application. The management validated the application, and the borrower and two co–signers as guarantors signed a note promising to repay on time. The money could be repaid in monthly instalments, and with normal legal interest.

“Haskalah” in Justingrad

Years after years the youth had been content with what they had learned from the local instructors: to write a letter in Yiddish and address the envelope in Russian. But all things change and advance with time. Little by little the longing awakened in the youth to know more than this, to learn Russian in a systematic way, to acquire a general education. Some even dreamed of taking the university entrance examinations given in the nearby city of Uman.

Teachers of Russian began to appear in the shtetl. They offered private lessons. At first they had girl pupils, who in effect were excluded from studying Torah at ‘cheder’ soon they were joined by boys who had finished ‘cheder’ and saw little value in Bess Medrash studies. The whole household would be studying. Each one sat in his own corner and memorized verses of Russian poets, the rules of grammar or the rules of arithmetic. In those days they did a great deal of memorizing.

Boys and girls saved pennies from market day earnings to pay teachers’ tuition fees. At night they sat and studied with diligence and devotion. It was a great ‘mitzvah’ to help the children of the poor, and those who were more advanced in their studies would give them free lessons.

Market square in Sokolovka on the place of former Justingrad

Market square in Sokolovka on the place of former Justingrad

With the acquisition of the Russian language, speaking Russian and reading of Russian books spread among the youth. In those days there began to come into the shtetl youths without names, “comrades”. They would call the youth to secret meetings outside the town, and tell them about the great revolution coming soon in Russian, and the necessity, in the coming time, of organizing strikes and protest demonstrations. At these meetings there were distributed leaflets and propaganda pamphlets to read and spread. Sokolievka had no industrial factories and workers, so there were no strikes. The youth came to hear what the speakers would say and to learn what was in the pamphlets. The youth sought knowledge.

The Library

The need for access to books was great. But in Russian, an authorization from the regime was in those days required for opening a library, and all representations to the officials to this end were in vain. A grouping of local young people determined to set up an “illegal” library, without authorization. According to Mr. Baruch Bernstein, who was one of this association, the effective role in this movement was taken by the young “Maskil” Yitzchak Yoel Kuzminsky. He was the son of the “Shochet”, and in line to inherit that post from his aged father, becoming ‘Shochet’ in his place (a position requiring unquestioned orthodoxy in the public eye).[67] Therefore Yitzchak Yoel could not openly participate in this activity and so he worked behind the scenes. He would invite the youth, the older boys and girls, to his home, guide them with his counsel, encourage them to take part in the cultural field. He arranged the lectures by visiting writers, evenings for readings and for plays. Thanks to his expertise in Hebrew and Yiddish literature, with the funds collected, the library was opened with a selection from the best in both languages. In a short time a large number of readers subscribed.

Hudel and Levi Wegodner

Hudel and Levi Wegodner from Justingrad

The library began with one shelf, but as readership increased so did income, and with that, the number of books. Russian books were also added, and pamphlets dealing with current questions, the Russian revolution (of 1905) and the socialist movement, reading matter taboo in the eyes of the regime. The library was kept in rented space in private homes, and for fear of betrayal of its secret to the local authorities, it frequently had to be moved from one place to another. But the activists involved never weakened. Teenage youth brought wooden egg crates from the egg dealers and built cases for the books. The library grew, and became an important factor in the education of the youth and the masses of the people in the shtetl.


During the last twenty years of Sokolievka, from the beginning of the century to its annihilation, there were great changes. New institutions were founded, new developments in the field of the economy and of culture, and these were mainly the fruit of the initiatives and the efforts of the new generation.

The members of the old generation were not adaptable to novelties, and to any activity that deviated from the bounds of tradition and custom.

When an economic crisis struck the town in the first decade, in large measure due to the weakened status of Russian Jewry of that day, conscientious members of the community who were deeply rooted in its life were affected by despair and depression and left their families to seek their fortune in America.

Local Jewish cemetery, video by Nadia Lipes:

It was the young merchants who were stimulated to seek improvement in the town. They obtained permission to open a financial institution which helped craftsmen and storekeepers with loans for constructive purposes. These merchants also importuned the authorities to hasten the opening of a post office in the town. These young men founded the “modernized cheder” and the young married men sent their children to it. These youth organized a public library, initiated literary evenings and other cultural activities, drawing on local talent and on forces from nearby towns. If a writer chanced to come to town, immediately a committee of the youth appeared to invite him to lecture, and a troop of enthusiastic youth spread through the town to sell tickets.

This was one of the qualities of the town, voluntary contribution of effort with spirit, the traditional joy of doing a ‘mitzvah’ (good deed) with all your heart.

In this awakening of Sokolievka to improvement and innovation, an awakening that blended with the great yearning of youth for education and the acquisition of knowledge, may be seen the peculiarity of the development in the shtetl. Under the external shell of the frozen absence of motion, there were budding new and creative forces from whom emerged new builders and renewers. Yossel Chertov the “apikoros”, Yitzchak Yoel Kuzminsky the “intellectual”, and Shimon Geisinsky, a modest and popular good fellow, these blossomed and grew on the quiet.

No one taught them, no one trained them for all they did and tried to do. They arose from themselves and came forward to service of the people, because the hour had come, their service was acceptable and was a blessing to the whole town.


(A letter from Bennie Berkun touches on another development.) “You ask about Zionists in Sokolievka. In 1911, when I was fourteen, I already considered myself a member of the ‘Tz’irei Tzion’ (“Youth for Zion”). Gedalyahu Mendl, grandson of Rabbi, Samuel Kaprov, and Konstantinovsky conducted Zionist activity. We had a club and public meetings. A man named Moshe used to come to us from Zashkov to lecture on the Zionist movement (probably Moshe Skriton, who was related to the Dayan family). We organized a club in the village of Voronoye. Older folk were General Zionists, sons of the ‘Baalebatim’ were ‘Tz’irei Tzion’, sons of working craftsmen were Seimovtzim. We used to argue in the streets of the town, especially after the Revolution, before elections, till Zelyoni (may his name be blotted out) came and killed them all. ”

“and on the dramatic company in Sokolievka,” runs a letter from Miriam Geisinsky, widow of Same Kaplan, “The group put on several plays. My brother Shimon (Shimon Geisinsky, son of Yitzchak Yoel the ‘Shochet’) Sought out the plays, casted the players, prepared scenery decorations and directed the staging. Among the actors were Shulki Menachem’s, Berel Herzl Peretz’s (a fine lad, played very well), Mani Dubobis (she was outstanding in Mirele Efros, a classic drama by Jacob Gordin); also Perel Dratsh, and Yocheved Nachum–Elye’s. Alick Kuzminsky played the role of a child beautifully. Traina, his sister, also was a good actress, and my sister Feige did not do so badly either. Shimon started with the plays of Abraham Goldfaden and Jacob Gordin, and went on to those of Peretz Hirschbein. The shtetl of Monastrichtsh invited Shimon and his troupe to come and play for them. To our sorrow the pogroms then began and a tragic end came to the dramas of Sokolievka. ”

The Sokolievka orchestra was well known and used to play in neighbouring towns and at evening entertainments of the landed gentry.

In the mid-19th century, the local population consisted of 2,349 Orthodox Christians and 502 Jews.

In 1900, 2,521 Jews resided in Sokolivka.

In the early 20th century, many people moved to the United States and other countries.

Civil War Pogroms

With the start of the Russian Revolution local Jews organised a local self-defence unit. Chayyim Greenspan, who later settled in Buffalo, recalls: “With twelve rifles, they set up a night watch, and stopped night robberies.

When the goyim of nearby villages came to seize their arms, they resisted. These goyim then seized a number of Jews, dragged them to the “Bridge” to throw them in the river. Fortunately some goyim from Sokolievka proper at the other end of the “Bridge” intervened to protect their neighbours, and the other goyim left.

On another occasion a bandit troop of 150 invaded the shtetl, demanded the people give up their clothing and boots to the bandits and pay a ransom of half a million roubles. This time the shtetl was saved by the courage of two men who slipped away and rode to Monastrishtsh where they made contact with the government forces (Bolshevik) camped there. When the bandits were making ready to let loose their terror of the shtetl they were surprised by the arrival of a force of regular soldiers headed by a Jewish commander.

The people of the shtetl saw these deliverances as miracles. From mouth to ear the word was passed that Reb Pinchas’l the Rabbi had said, “As long as I live, no blood will be shed in my town.”

– First pogrom

During the night looting and vandalism began. Sunday morning saw streets deserted, some houses already devastated. At daylight a hunt and round–up began, the bandits seizing all young men, especially any from eighteen to thirty. They were dragged to the synagogue of the Tolner Chassidim and locked up there.

The bandit chief announced that a “war tax” was imposed of not less than a million roubles, to be collected and turned over in two hours. A communal worker, surrounded by armed bandits, went from home to home to collect the money. Meanwhile the hostages in the synagogue were being beaten down with their prayer stands by the armed bandits who then stomped on their heads.

Two hours passed, and the sum demanded had not been reached. Ten men were taken out and killed. Another hour passed, and another ten were killed. At noon the collectors returned to the synagogue, having amassed only about half the amount demanded. The bandit officer took the money, refused to release the prisoners and gave the word to start plundering the houses.

The bandits spread out through the shtetl, broke into stores, looted the merchandise, beating people with their whips. There was shooting of men, and raping of women. They spoke of killing all the men in the synagogue.

Monument to Sokolovka/Justingrad pogrom victims. Presently can be found at the entrance to the cemetery in Buffalo, New York.

Monument to Sokolovka/Justingrad pogrom victims. Presently can be found at the entrance to the cemetery in Buffalo, New York.

About five o’clock the bandit horde began to move out of the town. They separated out about a hundred and fifty young men from the rest in the synagogue and took them along as captives. At first some thought that nothing very serious would happen to them, because in another two Zeliony [the Green Army, a third force in the post-Revolutionary Russia, armed peasants, resisting all organised governments, – editor’s note] had also seized a large number of young men, but only warned them not to help the Bolsheviks and turned them loose. Alas, on the captives of Justingrad, the wrath of the Lord descended.

When the captives were led out on to the “Bridge”, some parents overtook them, and pleaded for their children, offering still more money. They were shot down and thrown into the river: among these parents were Menachem Tchernus and Yitzchak Snitzer.

Some of the young men, seeing what was up, pleaded with Zeliony to take them as recruits to his band. The murderer mocked their words and ordered them to be mowed down. A withering fire was opened on them from a hidden ambush, from a machine gun concealed by bushes. The best of Justingrad’s youth fell dead, many young fathers, the strength and glory of Sokolievka.

(The shooting having done its bloody work, the bandits waded in with their swords to silence the voices of the dying, among whom there were some who with their last strength cried out the Sh’ma Yisroel, the martyr’s creed, “Hear, O Israel”.)

One of the young men, Yitzchak Pushkalinsky, though severely wounded in the head, managed to drag himself out of the heap of the dead, and to reach town. He died two months later in the hospital in Uman, but from him were learned the details of what had happened. The bodies were first found in a ravine by Gentiles who notified the town.

Chayye Shuman, four of whose brothers were among those killed, recalled, “The Gentiles refused to bring the bodies to the shtetl. The Jewish population rented horses and wagons from them, and themselves brought back the dead. My father was among those digging graves for my brothers. Nachum the apothecary tried to help him digging. My father said to him, “Take it easy, Nachum; let me take care of my children.” My brother Baruch who was killed was married and the father of a little boy. ”Reb Pinchas’I was seventy-six at the time he was murdered.

Another testimony about first pogrom:

Things did not go as smoothly in the neighbouring town of Yustingrad-Sokolovke, in the Lipovetz region. This town had a large Jewish community, about 1,000 families (600 non-Jewish families). A few days before Tisha B’Av, Zeleny arrived with a large group of a few thousand rebels. As soon as they entered the town, they killed Reb Pinkhas Rabinovitch (known as Reb Pikhasl). “Early the next morning,” recounted an eyewitness, “they chased the Jews into the Talner study house, demanded one million rubles, and took 150 young people hostage. A specially-appointed commission was selected to go around town to collect the money. The town was so impoverished from previous attacks by other mobs that they could not collect the entire amount. Meanwhile, the bandits began to kill Jews. Finally, the Jews were able to borrow 200,000 rubles from the local peasants to save the town. This was a far cry from the demanded million. Zeleny’s assistant arrived, placed a machine gun on the table and demanded another 20,000 rubles in gold. He then brought out the hostages and ordered they be beaten with swords and whips.” “Blood flowed like water,” recounted an eyewitness, “this procedure was repeated three times with ten minute breaks in between. Finally, Zeleny took the surviving 143 hostages, led them to the edge of town, and shot all except one.”

Another witness said this about the murder:

“The next day, Zeleny and his men left town, taking the young hostages with them… We assumed nothing would happen to them because Zeleny had arrested young people from another town, eventually freeing them with a firm warning not to join the Bolsheviks. But G-d did not take pity on these young people from Yustingrad; Zeleny killed them all. The poor souls offered to join Zeleny’s struggle, but this murderer merely laughed them off.”

– Second pogrom

After Zeliony’s massacre the shtetl was raided often by local gangs from nearby villages. No day passed without some tragic event. So the year 5679 came to an end (September, 1919).

On Rosh Hashanah 5680 (September 25, 1919) the army of Denikin (Tsarist) passed through the shtetl on their way to fight against the Bolsheviks. Three Jews whom they chanced upon on the way they killed. Again there was robbing, looting, setting homes afire.

In Denikin’s days, there was total anarchy. From the old town of Sokolievka, hoodlum ruffians came night after night, rioted, attacked Jews, burned houses to force the Jews to leave. Many families did flee at that time. This went on about three months.

– Third pogrom

The Denikin forces were defeated. On their retreat from Byelo–Tserkov they again passed through Justingrad. Again they began with burning homes, and this time they ended killing some two hundred. In the severe frost, the Denikin forces seized Jews, dragged them to the ice of the frozen river, stripped them naked where they froze to death.

During the December 1919 Denikin pogroms, the Logvin family left their home (near the ‘Bess Medrash’) and hid in a decrepit hovel at the end of their street, hoping that its very poor condition would not attract attention. The pogromists came nonetheless. Breaking in, they struck Shammai (Seymour) Logvin, then a mere boy, on the head. He fell unconscious and bleeding. His grandmother Blume Leah ran to help him, so she was seized and strung up by rope to the roof beams. Meanwhile pogromists outside set fire to the roof thatch. In the confusion of flame and smoke the family managed to save both Blume Leah and Seymour, escaping out the back way. Blume Leah was, however, permanently blinded by the effect of the hanging.

The shtetl was in ruins. The community of stunned mourners, crushed by these disasters, wandered around in a delirium of despair. The ground burned under their feet. They fled, some to nearby Uman, others to Odessa, crowding miserably into emergency shelter in the synagogues. Many decided to leave the country, making their way on foot overland to the River Dniester, the Romanian border. Risking their lives in the river crossing, they filtered stealthily across the frontier and reached Romania penniless and starving.

Families broke up. Some, who had relatives in America, were able with their help to cross the ocean to the United States. A few families after great hardships managed to reach the land of Israel and settle there.

As a result of pogroms in 1919, the Jewish town was destroyed. 400 houses, 140 shops, a steam mill, six tanneries, three carbonated water plants, a savings and loan association, six synagogues and two bathhouses were burnt. A fifth of the Jewish population of the town perished.

Statistic on pogroms in Justingrad, from fond 3050 of Kiev Oblast State Archive

Statistic on pogroms in Justingrad, from fond 3050 of Kiev Oblast State Archive

After Civil War

In 1926, 762 Jews lived in Sokolivka, constituting 25% of the total population. There were five Jewish houses of worship.

The Monument at Beth David Cemetery, Elmont, Long Island, New York was erected October J7, 1926 to the victims of the pogrom of the 7 of Av 5679 is in raised letters on bronze tablets mounted on the cylindrical granite pillars on each side of the gate of the Sokolievka society burial ground. The Yiddish text, which seems to be primary, is on the right side, facing out, and the English, which appears to derive from the Yiddish, is on the left.

Monument at Beth David Cemetery

Monument at Beth David Cemetery

The names of the victims, which include many who were killed on other dates, are in English transliteration, arranged in three columns on each tablet. The total is over 230. Because of some misinterpretation in the way the names are indicated, the exact total is not clear. There are 38 lines in each column, but some lines appear to refer to more than one person.

The English text reads:



All list of names you can find in my Google Docs document.

Before the war, over 150 Jews had lived in Sokolivka.

The village was occupied on 24 July, 1941. Soon after the occupation, all Jews were registered and ordered to wear a badge with a six-pointed star.

On September 19, during the first shootings, 35 Jews were killed together with 13 local communists. The remaining Jews were resettled to the ghetto which was liquidated in May 1942. Some Jewish artisans were left alive.

In September 1942, some of the Jewish artisans were shot and in the summer of 1943, the same happened to all the rest.

During the period of the Holocaust, more than 190 Jews were slaughtered in Sokolivka. We know names of 184 only…

Their names are listed in this document.

After WWII

After the War few Jews returned to village. According to local residents, the last Jew of Justingrad was a rope maker and buried on local Jewish cemetery.

Immigrants arriving at different periods in the New York City area created two landsmannschaftern, the Justingrader society before World War I and the Sokolifker–Kenaler Fraternal Association in 1923, maintaining friendly but independent relations. The Justingrader society, in its flourishing days, was of cosmopolitan outlook and often took constructive stands on broad national and international issues. Both societies existed in USA till 1970’s-1980’s. (Typically, the American–born children of such immigrants do not continue the mutual aid societies set up by their parents.)

Monument to the Justingrad pogrom victims in Holy Order of the Living Cemetery, Cheektowaga, near Buffalo, New York dedicated August 30, 1964

Monument to the Justingrad pogrom victims in Holy Order of the Living Cemetery, Cheektowaga, near Buffalo, New York dedicated August 30, 1964

The Justingrader maintain burial grounds in the Old Montefiore Cemetery, Springfield Gardens, and in the New Montefiore, Pinelawn. The Sokolifker–Kenaler plot is also on Long Island, in Beth David Cemetery, Elmont; on the pillars of its gate are the bronze memorial tablets described elsewhere herein.

In Justingrad few Jewish houses still exist inhabited by the Ukrainians who don’t like to speak about the Jewish past of their village.

Famous Jews from Justingrad

Motl Grubiyan (1909 – 1972, Moscow) – a Yiddish poet, prisoner of concentration camps.

Yakob Grubiyan (1911, Justingrad – 1979), Soviet writer who wrote in Yiddish.

Sokolivka Jewish cemetery

The old Jewish cemetery with graves from the 18th and 19th centuries was situated on Naberezhnaya Street on the western outskirts of the village.

In the early 20th century, an artificial body of water was constructed which covered a large part of the cemetery while the rest of the cemetery area was turned into a field. The exact place of the old demolished Jewish cemetery is unknown.

Justingrad Jewish cemetery in 2016

Justingrad Jewish cemetery in 2016

Inscription on the oldest surviving tombstone:
פ”נ, תנצב”ה, א’ח’ ? הועד, מירל בת פנחס, נפ’ ט’ מח’ חשוון שנת תרכ”ו לפ”ק

Here buried, A respected woman [ …], Mirl, daughter of Pinchas, Who died on the 9th of Cheshvan, 5621

Here buried
A respected woman [ …]
Mirl, daughter of Pesach
Who died on the 9th of Cheshvan, 5621
According to the Jewish calendar

Most recent surviving inscription:

ר’ יוסף
בר יצחק ליב
[ה] אב תרעט
Here buried is
The holy
Rabbi Joseph,
Son of Yitshak Leib
Who was killed in the month of Av, 5679.
Let his soul be bound in the bond of life.

Most gravestones were stolen by local Ukrainians.

Information was taken from

Holocaust Mass Graves

– Jewish cemetery

Behind the bridge across the water reservoir, 1 km to the left of the road to Konel’ska Popivka village. The mass grave is located at the entrance to the Jewish cemetery of Sokolivka.

Plaque or Signpost near the cemetery entrance

Inscription Text:
«Eternal memory
To the defenseless Soviet citizens and their children,
Ruthlessly tortured by the German t occupiers
In the years 1941-1943.
A total of 24 victims»

Holocaust mass grave on Sokolovka Jewish cemetery

Holocaust mass grave on Sokolovka Jewish cemetery

The mass grave is located at the site of the former pre-burial house. According to the local residents, in 1941, Jewish children aged 14-15 were gathered in this house and killed, then dropped into the basement of the building (according to another version, into the well). The next day, local residents were forced to fill-up the cellar with soil.

In 1945, the pre-burial house was demolished, and in 1960, a monument was erected.

– Konels’kyi Forest

The location marks a series of mass graves. The granite obelisk reads: “Eternal memory to the Soviet defenceless citizens and children, brutally tortured by the Nazi occupants in 1941-1943. 140 people.

The inscription is fading and might soon disappear.

In 1970, a monument was erected. Until the mid-1990s, the mass grave was maintained by a local resident, Petr Strekoten.

In 1941, 140 people were shot in Konelsky forest.

According to the local resident Andrey Ivanovich Kovalchuk, the police had driven nearly all the Jews from Sokolivka towards the woods.

Information was taken from



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