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Novgorod-Seversky, city in Chernigov district, Ukraine.
During the 14th century, Novgorod-Seversky was conquered by the princes of Lithuania; in the 16th and 17th centuries it was alternately in the hands of the Poles and the Russians; and in 1667 it was definitively annexed by Russia.


A Jewish settlement is mentioned for the first time in a residence permit granted to the townspeople by King Sigismund III Vasa (1587–1632) of Poland. According to the permit Jews were forbidden to sell meat in the town, except in the courtyard of the synagogue. Also included were several tax levies which Jews were ordered to pay.

Novgorod-Seversky before Revolution

Novgorod-Seversky before Revolution

During the Chmielnicki persecutions of 1648 many Jews in Novgorod- Seversky were massacred by the Cossacks.

Triumphal Arch in Novgorod-Seversky. It was built in 1786 in honor of the passage through the city of Empress Catherine II.

Triumphal Arch in Novgorod-Seversky. It was built in 1786 in honor of the passage through the city of Empress Catherine II.

The community was renewed only in the late 18th century. In 1847 1,336 Jews were registered in the community; by 1897 the number had risen to 1,956 (32% of the total population).

Market square, 2020:

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Here is a list of Jews in Novgorod-Seversky county – 1882, 1888 and 1910. You can download it.

In 1892, there were six private Jewish schools and a state Jewish school in Novhorod-Sivers’kyi.

In 1890s, Morduh Gordon wasa public (government-appointed) rabbi.

During the Beilis trial, 813 rabbis of the Russian Empire signed a declaration about the impossibility of blood usage in Jewish rituals.
Novgorod-Seversky’s rabbi Chaim Bogin is mentioned in this list.

For ten years (1907-1917), Boruch Rambro served as a public (government-appointed) rabbi and spiritual leader of the Jewish community in Novhorod-Siverskyi. His fate beyond that period is unknown to us.

Old PreRevolution buildings in Novhorod-Siverskyi, 2020:

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Gymnazium in Novgorod-Severskiy (it was built by businessman Gaufman):

The community suffered in the wave of pogroms which swept over Russia in 1905. On October 9, pogrom happened in Novgorod-Seversky. I find only that 59 Jewish families have suffered.
In the beginning of XX century in Novgorod-Seversky acted 5 synagogues and Jewish secondary school. There were 2 jewish cemeteries.
Enterpreneurs list from Russian Empire Business Directorie by 1904:

In 1914, Jews owned one pharmacy (the only one in city), all 4 storage of pharmaceutical goods, both bakeries, all 3 hotels, the only photostudio, watchmaker workshop, 35 shops and stores (all 10 groceries, all 4 manufactory, the only jewelry store). Jews were both timber merchants.

On April 6, 1918, units of the Red Army retreating before the German army savagely attacked the Jews of Novgorod-Seversky and 88 Jews (including the author A.J. Slutzky) lost their lives (from another sources 57 Jews were killed and 16 were injured).

Document about fixed price of kosher and non-kosher food in Novgorod- Seversky, 1919:

Requests for emmigration permits of Novgorod-Seversky Jews in 1922:


In 1924-1935 rabbi was Zelman Abramovich Khurgin (1900-?).

In 1926 there were 2,089 Jews (22.8% of the total population) in the town, and in 1939 it dropped to 982 (8.56% of the total population).

With the establishment of Soviet power, Jewish life was regulated by the Jewsetciya. In the 1920s and 1930s, Jews actively left Novhorod-Siverskyi – some went to major industrial centres, while others founded Jewish collective farms. For example, thanks to the immigrants from Novhorod, the Lekkert and Sverdlov collective farms were established in the Kherson region.

The synagogue in the town was closed in the 1930s. A shochet (ritual slaughterer) lived near the synagogue and was responsible for kosher slaughter.

On Kozatska Street, there is a building that used to house a Jewish prayer school built in the 1840s. In documents found in the State Archives of the Chernihiv Oblast (DAChO), it is referred to as “Prayer School No.1”.

The documents of the DACHO preserve the names of leadership of Prayer School No.1 in the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries:
Scholars: Abram Risin – from 1866 to 1869; Mordukh Krichevsky – from 1869 to 1872; Evel Hatzkelev Davidov – from 1882 to 1885; Yankel Moyseyev Neymark – from 1885; Yankel Donov Slonim – from 1892 to 1895; Chaim Gershonov Bohin – from 1903

Headman: Girsha Haskin – from 1866 to 1869; Shlioma Talalay – from 1869 to 1872; Vulf Karabelnikov – from 1879 to 1882; Moisey Leybov Bikhovski – from 1882; Moisey Yeseliev Pevzner – from 1897 to 1898; Meyer Zalmanov Bikhovski – from 1899; Avram Shaye Gelfgat – from 1901; Iser Moyseyev Dobrushin – from 1906

Treasurer: Zakharii Simonov – from 1866 to 1872; David Zakhariev Simonov – from 1882 to 1885; Gdal Fayvusov Frenkel – from 1885 ; Moisey Zalmanov Bolotin – from 1895; Mendel Itskov Gushansky – from 1906

Former synagogue in 2020:

Former Jewish houses near the synagogue building:




Monument on the Holocaust mass grave near Ostroushky village

Monument on the Holocaust mass grave near Ostroushky village

Most of the Jews managed to evacuate.

The city was occupied by the Germans from August 26, 1941 to September 16, 1943 although by this time most of the local Jews had already evacuated.

Jewish population of Novgorod-Seversky
1797 – 10 jews
1847 – 1336 jews
1897 – 2956 (32%)
1910 – 4386 jews
1926 – 2089 jews
1939 – 982 (8,6%)
2014 ~ 80 jews

Sara Kaufman (Libenson) died one day before the execution and was buried in the Jewish cemetery.

On November 7-8, 1941, the remaining 174 Jews were shot by the 10th Infantry Regiment unit of the first mechanized infantry brigade of the SS (captain Gebel) with the assistance of Ukrainian police. Jews were gathered near the wall of the monastery for “resettlement” and moved to opposite bank of Desna river. The massacre of 174 people took place near the village of Ostroushky in antitank ditch. The rest of the local Jews were killed on the spot, when found in their apartments on the next day.

According to another sources, the ghetto was organized on Cavalry Street, where Jews from the entire region were gathered.

More information about this shooting site can be found in Yahad In-Unum interview.

Novgorod-Seversky in 1942, photo of unknown German soldier

Novgorod-Seversky in 1942, photo of unknown German soldier

Last local Jews were killed in concentration camp together with more than 17000 Soviet captives in 1942-1943.
In a prisoners of war camp in Novgorod-Seversky, the Jewish prisoners received the most brutal treatment. The Jews were banned from wearing coats and warm clothes, they were forced into doing the hardest labour removing sewage with their bare hands, harnessed into carts instead of horses. The Jewish prisoners were kept in a stone barn with no light. They did not receive food rations and perished soon.
We know only names of 210 murdered civilian Jews and 106 warriors… You can find these names here.

Monument on the territory of former concentration camp

Monument on the territory of former concentration camp

Part of the street which was paved (around 50 meters) by gravestones from Jewish cemetery during WWII:

After WWII

After the end of the war, the families of Shneerson, Dolinska, Osmolovska, Rozman, Kaumfan, Korh, Granovska, Borodin, Makhov, Reiz, Cherniak, Pishik, Kuzemkiny, Zigman, Asbel, Zhura, Mogilevsky, Tseytlin, Mitsmacher, and Dobkin returned from evacuation.

In the 1950s-1960s, up to 1,000 Jews lived in the former town.

Leva Sinaiskiy worked in a store number 6 on Gubernska Street.

There was no synagogue in Novhorod-Siverskyi, and religious Jews gathered to pray only on Saturdays. A Jewish woman named Litvinova provided her home for the gatherings. The worshippers also had a Torah scroll. Such gatherings continued until the 1960s, when most of the elderly religious people had passed away, and no one was left to gather.


Jews worked as teachers, doctors, accountants, and in trade.

However, the elderly died, and the youth left for the big cities of the Soviet Union.

Officially Jewish community was created again in 1990. Between 1998 and 2002 there was working Hesed canteen.
Head of community is Etya Kaufman.

In the 1990s, most of the Jews left for Israel and Germany.

As of 2020, 20 Jews lived here.

The school building was severely damaged in 2022 due to a Russian missile strike.

Water tower with pictures of Lenin and Stalin in the center of Novhorod-Siverskyi, 2020:

Old wooden Jewish houses:

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Famous Jews from Novgorod-Seversky

Zino Davidoff (Zusele-Meer Davidov son of Gilel) was born in Novhorod-Siverskyi in 1904 and emigrated to Switzerland in 1911 where he started his tobacco business in 1930’s.

Zino Davidoff (1904 -1994)

Zino Davidoff (1904 -1994)

He was the eldest of four children born to tobacco merchant, Gilel Davidov. Even in his own autobiographical writings, the facts on his youth are a bit hazy, as he was quite young during this time and could only piece together some stories of his youth. His parents were either cigar merchants or cigarette manufacturers in Kiev. Fleeing the political turmoil, his parents left some of their family behind and emigrated to Geneva, Switzerland, in 1911 for a better life, where they opened their own tobacconist shop in 1912.

(b. 1924, Novgorod-Seversky), soviet journalist and writer, WWII veteran. Efim emmigrated to USA in 2000.

Efim Salita

Efim Salita

Alexander Isaakovich Harshaka (1908, Novgorod-Seversky – 1989) was a soviet painter.

Alexander Isaakovich Harshaka

Alexander Isaakovich Harshaka

Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery was founded in first half of 19th century and still in use. There is located mass grave of 1919’s pogrom victims.
Location: Along Uryts’koho Str., entrance between the house numbers 68 and 72.



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