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Snowska (Polish), Коржовка – Korzhovka (Formerly called), Сновськ (Ukrainian), Сновск (Russian).

Snovsk is a historic town located in the Chernihiv region of northern Ukraine and is the center of the Snovsk district. Snovsk is located on the Snovsk River, a tributary of the Desna. The town’s estimated population is 11,471 (as of 2013).

Snovsk appeared after the building of the Libavo-Romen railway line in 1878. The location was convenient as the city was built around a major railyard. It was renamed to Snovsk in the end of XIX century. Snovsk get status of city in 1924. In 1935-2016 the city was names Schors in the honor of famous red army general of the Civil War, Nikolai Schors (1895 – 1919). In 2016, town was renamed back to Snovsk


Jews first appeared in the city at the end of XIX century.

Snovsk before Revolution

Snovsk before Revolution

Jewish population of Snovsk:
1939 – 1402 (16%) Jews
1970’s ~ 200 Jews
2000’s ~ 90 Jews

The names of several Jewish individuals appear in the Gorodnaya yezhed enterpreneurs list published in 1903:
Nehlin Asriel Hertzov (drugstore), Pulner Mendel Leibovich (drugstore), Geselev Iosel Leibovich (grocery store), Golovchiner Sim.Boruh. (metal trade), Karasik Hatskel Froimovich (grocery store), Lubin Leiba Aaronov and Margolin Haya-Estra Tevel (haberdashery), Klebanov Morduh Nohimovich and Yankovskiy Akiva Samoilovich (timber store), Veinbalt Liba Avramovich and Shybich Mairim Davidovich(draper’s shop).

Snovsk before Revolution

Snovsk before Revolution

Before the revolution, the Jewish population of Snovsk was estimated at about one thousand.

Shneur-Zalman Gorelik (1880-1984) was Berezna rabbi in 1901. After this he became a rabbi in Snovsk.

Shneur-Zalman Gorelik

Shneur-Zalman Gorelik

At the beginning of 1920s, Chofetz Chaim yeshiva evacuated from Radin to Snovsk. Some of the students didn’t manage to escape from USSR. Among them was Shimon Trebnik (1892, Luban – 1961, Moscow), who served as Snovsk’s rabbi in 1920s-1930s.

In 1930s, local synagogue was closed and Shimon Trebnik worked as a bookbinder which allow avoiding work on Shabbat. With the start of WWII, he evacuated with his wife and 3 children to Kirgiziya and return to Snovsk after WWII ended.

In the 1950s, he was among the heads of Moscow yeshiva “Kol Yacov”.

Shimon Trebnik with nephew

Shimon Trebnik with nephew

I have thus far been unsuccessful at obtaining any information related to Jewish life in Snovsk between the Civil War and the Holocaust…

Former railwayman's club

Former railwayman’s club


During the Second World War, many Jewish families were able to evacuate due to the presence of the railway. Of the Jews who remained in Snovsk, most were the elderly and sick.
German troops entered the city on September 3, 1941. The first anti-Jew action was held on November 4, 1941. On this day thirty eight adult men were arrested and shot. Throughout December and January, the Germans continued arresting Jews. All were sent to Chernigov to be killed.

The biggest “action” was held in January 1942. The remainder of the Jewish population was taken to a forest (name of forest?) outside the city and executed. Some Jews tried to hide among the local populace. Most were found and shot by the local Ukrainian police.

Last synagogue in Snovsk, now it is a library

Last synagogue in Snovsk, now it is a library

The total number of Holocaust victims in Snovsk is still unknown. According to eyewitnesses, there were more than 100 people killed in the first action. We can assume that the Nazis killed more than 150 people.

Of those killed we know of only 112 names of civilians in Snovsk and Snovsk district and 102 names of Solider’s from the area who died in battle. You can find both lists here (in Russian). Other names are still unknown…

After WWII

After the liberation, many Jews returned from Red Army and evacuation.

Report of local authorities about unofficial Jewish gathering for praying purposes, 1971

Report of local authorities about unofficial Jewish gathering for praying purposes, 1971

List of the members of unofficial minyan, 1973

List of the members of unofficial minyan, 1973

Jewish community was created again in 1990’s. First Head of community was local journalist Mark Spektorov (emigrated to Israel). After this position was occupied by Mark Lustikman.
Marina Abramovna Pismennaya became the Head of community in 2006.

In 2007 a movie “Heavy sand”, based of Anatoliy Rybak’s novel was shot in Snovsk. For the film, the production team rebuilt a set based on the the pre-revolution shtetl.

Creation of “Heavy sand” movie...

Creation of “Heavy sand” movie…

Famous Jews from Snovsk

Pulner Isai Mendelevich (1900, Snovsk – 1942, Leningrad) a Russian ethnographer and bibliographer.
Natan Grigoryevich Rakhlin (1906, Snovsk – 1979, Kazan) a Ukrainian conductor.

Natan Grigoryevich Rakhlin (1906 - 1979)

Natan Grigoryevich Rakhlin (1906 – 1979)

Mark Davidovich Maximov (real surname Lipovich, 1918, Snovsk – 1986,Moscow) was Soviet poet, playwright, essayist and translator.

Mark Maximov

Mark Maximov

Chaim-Shaul Bruk (1894, Snovsk – 1965, Rishon LeZion) a famous Rabbi. He studied at the yeshiva “Tomhey-Tmimim” (Lubavitch). In 1928-29 he led a illegal Lubavitch yeshiva in Novograd-Volynskiy. He was arrested and sentenced to forced labor. From 1931-1936 he was engaged in illegal Jewish education in Berdichev. In 1936 he left the Soviet Union for Palestine and spent the remainder of his days in Tel Aviv.

Samuil Davidovich Berman (1922, Snovsk – 1987, Kharkov), a Ukrainian mathematician.

Yehuda Slutsky (1915, Snovsk – 1978, Jerusalem), historian and writer.



The former Synagogue is new ” The Snovsk District Public Library”.

Jewish Cemetery

The cemetery is located on the north-eastern Outskirts of the town in Chervonoarmiis’ka Street, on the left side of the road towards the village of Mykhailivka. The entire perimeter of the cemetery is surrounded with a low wooden fence. There is a gate, but it does not lock. No road or entrance sign mark the site.
Most of the gravestones found in the cemetery are legible. The oldest identified gravestone in the cemetery is dated 1921.  The inscription on the oldest tombstone reads: ‘Avrum Chaim Iosifovich Litvin, 1873-1921. To the dear father, from his wife and children’.
After the War the remains of the Jews killed in the various actions in Snovsk and Snovsk county were relocated to this cemetery. A monument was erected in their memory.

Cemetery still in use. Photo were taken from Lo-Tishkah website.

Holocaust mass grave

Located in the south-eastern section of the cemetery is a mass grave. It is where the victims of the various “actions” in Snovsk and Snovsk district were reburied. The site is marked by a memorial, which was erected in 2007. Funds for its construction were donated by Moscow Studio.



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