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Pilyava is a village located in Starosinyavskiy district, Khmelnitskiy region of Ukraine. Kozelets is located on the Ikva River, a tributary of the Southern Bug. The villag’s estimated population is 672 (as of 2001).

Pilyava became a part of Russia Empire in 1793, in XIX – beginning of XX century it was shtetl of Litin Yezd of Podolskaya Gubernia. 

Known since 1501. In the XVI-XVIII centuries Pilyava was a part of Commonwealth, since 1793 – in the Russian Empire. In the XIX – early XX it was a shtetl of Litin County town in Podolsk province. Population according to 2001 census –  672 persons.

Near the village take place great Battle of Pyliavtsi (September 23, 1648) was the third significant battle of the Khmelnytsky Uprising. Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth forces met a numerically superior force of Cossacks and Crimean Tatars under the command of Bohdan Khmelnytsky and Tugay Bey. The Commonwealth forces were dealt a third consecutive defeat.

In 1889 there were 2 synagogues. In 1890 Rabbi was Moshe Shrayman (1861 -?).

Castle in Pilyava. Engraving by 1864

Castle in Pilyava. Engraving by 1864

In the summer of 1913 in Pilyava worked Jewish folklore-ethnographic expedition of S.An-skiy. In 1914, Jews owned the only stock of pharmaceutical goods, the only mill, the only store of wines, 12 stores (including all 9 groceries, both manufactories). In 1913 there was 3 synagogues.

In the early XX century, some Jews emmigrated to the USA, where in 1915 was organized the charity organization “Piliver Podolier.”

Old mill in Pilyava

Old mill in Pilyava

During Civil War Jewish community suffered from pogroms.

Entrepreneurs in Pilyava. 1913

Entrepreneurs in Pilyava. 1913

In 1925, people from Pilyava (21 Jewish family, 107 people), organized in the Kherson district Jewish agricultural collective “Emes.”

In July 1941 Pilyava was occupied by German forces.

August 19, 1941 all 186 Jews from Pilyava were killed together with approximately 300 Jews from Staraya Sinyava by Headquarters Company of Higher SS and Police Fuehrer in South Russia. They were not shot, they were dumped alive in deep stone mine. Victims previously stripped naked. For those who resisted were shot in the legs, and then threw in a mine shaft. The first were men and then women, mothers with children, the elderly and the infirm. Massacre was public, the entire execution was accomplished at the confluence of the audience. Some show the destruction of neighbors, children and the elderly caused laughter and shouts of approval, others cried and covered his ears. There were even such voluntary viewers who fought for the clothes of the victims. The mines were very deep, but screams were heard on the surface. The groans were heard for several days.

All Jewish property was looted.

Jewish population of Pilyava:
1847 – 289 jews
1897 – 752 (20.3%)
1923 – 619 jews

I havn’t find more detail information about Pilyava shtetl and about Jews in village after the WWII.

This is a reminds of  Victor Hamishon (1919 – 2012, New Jersey state) WWII veteran who lived in Pilyava before the war They were included in “Starokonstantinov novells” by Isaak Vaynshelboym.

Jewish cemetery was destroyed during WWII.




  1. I have a grandmother, Sylvia Bespechney, who emigrated to NY from Pilava Ukraine. If anyone has infirmation on that family please contact me.

  2. I am quite certain that my husband’s paternal lineage leads back to Pilyava. Family members buried in Mt Lebanon Cemetery in Glendale, NY under Piliver Podolia Society. Family name Sandler. Paternal grandmother family name Suris but changed to Silverstein. I believe they were from Stara Sinyava.
    N Cooper

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