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Oster (German), Ostor (Yiddish), Ostr (Polish), Остер (Ukrainian), Остер – Oster (Russian), Старогородка – Starogorodka (Old Name)

Oster is a historic town located in Kozelets district of Chernihiv region in northern Ukraine. Kozelets is located on the Desna River. The city’s estimated population is 6335 (as of 2011).

Oster became a part of the Russian Empire in 1667, in XIX – beginning of XX century it was center of Oster Yezd of Chernigov Gubernia.

Jews have lived in Oster since the 18th century.

In 1862, there was a wooden synagogue in Oster; in 1867 – two synagogues; in 1886 – four synagogues, of which two were of stone and two of wood.

Jewish population of Oster:
1847 – 633 jews
1897 – 1596 (29%)
1910 – 1582 jews
1920 – 1523 jews
1926 – 1267 (18,5%)
1939 – 841 (13,3%)

The business directory of 1903 lists few names of Jewish entrepreneurs in Oster:
Grocery stores: Kopelev Mordko Moiseevich
Haberdashery: Lipnitskiy Berko Abramovich, Galperin Pinhus Yank., Galperin Risa Boris., Galperin Sam. Udk., Galperin Shlema Udk.
Tin: Brusilovskiy Nison Gersh., Mirenskiy Avr. Boruh., Hizhnaya A. Abr.
Timber store: Zabolotniy Moses Nikit.
Flour: Levin Ios. Yank.
Tableware: Freidin Shapsh. Leiz.

Pogrom happened in Oster in 1905.

From 1910, a Jewish cemetery operated. In 1913, Jews owned a warehouse of pharmacy products, the only hotel, the only inn, over 50 shops and stores in Oster (including 11 selling manufactured goods, all six specialist stores, and all nine grain suppliers). Most Jews lived in North-Western part of city.

Signature of Oster public rabbi Brotman on the birth certificate, 1912

Signature of Oster public rabbi Brotman on the birth certificate, 1912

During the Beilis trial, 813 rabbis of the Russian Empire signed a declaration about the impossibility of any blood usage in Jewish rituals.
Oster’s rabbi H.M. Matusov is mentioned in this list.

Berl Orloff (1857, Oster-1930, Kiev) and Feiga Lizitsa (1864, Rikyn-1938, Kiev). Photo provided by Almira Yusupov

Berl Orloff (1857, Oster-1930, Kiev) and Feiga Lizitsa (1864, Rikyn-1938, Kiev). Photo provided by Almira Yusupov

In 1923, the towns spiritual leader, Rabbi Girzel was arrested.
A notable decrease in the number of Jews took place within the 20 years between the Civil War and World War II, for various reasons, but mainly because of the impoverishment of the Jewish population after the pogroms of 1919-1920. Thus many Jews had to move to larger cities and many assimilated.


On September 9, 1941, the Red Army retreated from Oster and on October 29, a detachment of Sonderkommando 4a shot 215 Jews, partisans and communists in the town. On November 7, 1941 another took place with 30 Jews and partisans killed. Both massacres took place on abandoned airfield.
During the war, 17% of the district population were killed. 83% of the total number of victims were Jews.

We know names of only 274 civilian Jews killed in Oster and 40 names of soldiers which were killed during WWII. You can find both lists here (in Russian).
Other names are still unknown…

The remains of Holocaust victims were reburied in March 1946 to a common grave in Jewish cemetery. The airfield overgrown forest and no mark on this tragedy exist there.

Airfield nowadays

Airfield nowadays

After the war many Jews returned to city.

In 2014 Head of community was Dosya Abramovna Mihno. Only ~ 10 Jews lives in Oster.


Famous Jews from Oster

Mikhail Borisovich Partashnikov (1897-1952), a physician.

Jewish cemetery

Cemetery situated near the bus station.

Notable Natives Of The Local Jewish Community: David Chaimovich Shapiro, a tzaddik.
Date of the oldest known gravestone is 1926.
The cemetery is under the care of the deputy director of the Oster construction and design college, Viktor Emilyanovich Kulik, Mikhno Yevdokiya Abramovna and the students of the college.

Information taken from Lo-Tishkah website.

Holocaust mass grave

The mass grave is located in front of the entrance to the Jewish cemetery on Lenina St. There is a memorial at the site.

The rectangular memorial is made of stone, it bears a marble plate: “Here lie buried are the soldiers of the Soviet Army and the citizens of Oster, brutally killed by the German t invaders in 1941.”

Information taken from Lo-Tishkah website.



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