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Kozeletz, Mushkev (Yiddish), Kozielec (Hungarian), Myszkov (German), Nowy (Polish), Козелец – Kozelets (Russian), Козелець (Ukrainian)

Kozelets is a historic town located in Chernihiv region of northern Ukraine, center of Kozelets district. Kozelets is located on the Oster River, a tributary of the Dnieper. The city’s estimated population is 8,305 (as of 2007).

Kozelets became a part of Russia Empire in 1667, in XIX – beginning of XX century it was center of Kozelets Yezd of Chernigov Gubernia. Since 1932 it became a town of Chernigov region.

In 1666, there were already several Jewish homes in Kozelet’s, of which four belonged to artisans and four were owned by merchants.

Kozak's arsenal in Kozelets. Building by XVIII century

Kozak’s arsenal in Kozelets. Building by XVIII century

By 1766, Jews accounted for about 8% of Kozelets’ residents (a total of 2,273 people). The census of 1847 mentioned only one ‘Kozelets’ Jewish community’, comprising 658 people but according to the census in 1897, the county population was about 135,000, of whom 4,711 were Jews. In Kozelets’ itself, the population at this time was 5,141 residents, including 1,634 Jews.
By the mid-XIX century, Jews owned more than half of the business enterprises in the town, as well as the majority of the mills and factories. With a Jewish population of 1,119 in 1862.

In February 1900 official rabbi became Meer Volfovich Abramovich (1840 – ?).
On October 22, 1905 (after the announcement of the Tzarist manifesto on October 17) 69 Jewish shops and a 17 buildings were destroyed. Total damage was estimate in 117000 rubles.

Jewish population of Kozelets:
1847 – 658 jews
1897 – 1634 (31,8%)
1910 – 2072 jews
1926 – 748 (21,5%)
1939 – 394 (8,8%)
2014 ~ 20
2016 – 2

From 1908, the rabbi in Kozelet’s was Yehuda-Yitzhok Reznikov (1876 -?).

During the Beilis trial, 813 rabbis of the Russian Empire signed a declaration about the impossibility of any blood usage in Jewish rituals.
Two Kozelet’s rabbis mentioned in this list: Ritvin and G.P. Reznikov

In 1910, there was a Talmud Torah in Kozelets’, as well as a private Jewish school for boys, two synagogues (from another sources one synagogue and one prayer house).
These years saw a large growth in the Jewish population and by 1910, there were already more than two thousand Jews in the town, making up over 40% of the total population of Kozelets’.
In 1916 there was Jewish Savings and Loan Association (chairman – Abraham Nehemevich Kamenetskiy; members – Iosif Efroimovich Karasik, Yakov Samoilovich Gorniy, Samuel Gershevich Nohotovich, Abraham Semenovich Tseitlin, Zalman Evseevich Tseitlin, Zalman Evseevich Kyshnerskiy; treasurer – David Leibovich Rabinovich; accountant – David Markovich Abramovich).

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In 1918 Jewish population suffered due to pogron when many shops were robbered.
In 1925, 44 Jewish immigrants from Kozenet’s founded a Jewish agricultural colony ‘Naye Ort’ in Kherson region (44 person).

In the 1930s, there was no Jewish school in the village, but there was a Jewish class in the Russian school.

Due to emmigration in cities and especially in Kiev Jewish popultion significantly decreased and before the WWII there lived 394 Jews.
Kozelets was occupied by German forces in September 11, 1941.
First Jews were shot dead on September 17 and 25, 1941, five Jews. On October 22-24, 1941, the Sonderkommando 4a, with the assistance of Ukrainian police, shot 385 civilians (number of Jews among them is unknown).
The remaining Jews were find and killed during next 2 years of occupation. Several Jews fought in different partisan units in the Chernihiv region. Most of them in troop “Za Batkivshinu/For Motherland” of the Soviet Union Hero Ivan Mikhailovich Bovkun.

During a German bombing in June 1941, a Jewish man named Lifshitz was killed.
During the occupation, his wife was hidden by local Ukrainians and stayed in hiding for three months. But after receiving unreliable information about her son’s death, she hanged herself.

We know names of only 61 civilian Jews killed in Kozelets and Kozelets district (except Oster) and 49 names of soldiers which were killed during WWII. You can find both lists here (in Russian).
Other names are still unknown…

After the war many Jewish families returned from evacuation: Gorniy, Karasik, Novakovskiy, Tseitlin, Freidinov, Shneerson, Popik, Pochin, Mogilevskie, Karlinskie, Ryasik, Filipovskie, Kamenetskie.
Unofficial Rabbi was Goldberg and Jews congregate in his private house. His wife backed matzo for all community.

Among the families who returned from evacuation was the Ceitlin family. The head of the family was the director of a printing press, and his wife was the post office chief. Their descendants emigrated to Israel in the 1980s-1990s.

Сommunity was re-established in 1990s’. During many years it was headed by Anna Proshina (1935-2014). Now had of community is Rita Urchenko.


Famous Jews from Kozelets

Abraham Efremovich Karlinsky (born in 1923, Kozelets ), a famous linguist.
Yuri Davidovich Levitansky (1922, Kozelets – 1996, Moscow) – a poet and translator, master of lyric and burlesque genres. Laureate of the State Prize of the Russian Federation in the field of art and literature in 1994.
Lazar Kalmanovitch (1883, Kozelets – 1946, Chernovtsy) – famous actor and producer. Since 1917, he was an actor and director of the Poltava Jewish Theater “Culture League”. In 1922 Lazar organized in Kiev first Jewish theater. In 1928, he joined Kiev Municipal Jewish theater where he works until his death.
Yehuda Leib Tsirelson (1859, Kozelets – 1941, Kishinev) was the Chief Rabbi of Bessarabia, a member of the Romanian parliament, and a prominent Jewish leader and Halakha scholar.


According to sources in Chernigov Archiv synagogue was build here in 1884, prayer house in 1893.
Now exist only one building of former Jewish religious organisation and I haven’t find a histiry of this particular building. Sport gym locates here.
In Chernigov Archiv stored documents which descibed election of Kozelets Staromolitvenniy prayer house Head in 1888 which was located in house of merchant Iosif Abramovich. I haven’t find information if this building exist (sport gym) or was destroyed. In a result of first election Head became Aaron Zalmanovich Mezhirov , rabbi – Moses Shneer, treasurer – merchant Berko Plesetskiy. First election was conducted with violation and Kozelets Jews complain to Gubernia Police. In a result of re-election Head of Staromolitvenniy prayer house became Leib Mezhirov, rabbi – Movsha Aaronov Tanklevskiy, treasurer – Haim Moiseevich Karasik.

Building of former Synagogue. Now it is a sport school

Building of former Synagogue. Now it is a sport school

Synagogue from another side

Synagogue from another side

Holocaust mass grave

Southeastern outskirts of the town, urochische “Pokorschina”, near the hospital. There is a memorial at the site.

Monument on the mass grave in Kozelets

Monument on the mass grave in Kozelets

Jewish Cemetery

The cemetery is located on the western outskirts of the settlement in the area of “Kievskaia slobodka”, in Chapaeva Street, near house № 35A.

Memorial plate on the new wall around Kozelets Jewish cemetery:

Data was taken from Lo-Tishkah website.



One Comment

  1. “Yehuda Leib Tsirelson was the son of the Rabbi of Kozelets, Moishe Chayim”

    from wikipedia .Does it have a source?

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