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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. The town of Snovsk began to develop after the construction of railway repair workshops here. And Jews began to settle near them. Despite the fact that Snovsk was an important railway station, Jews did not work on the railway.

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.

Usher Zalman Rahlin and his wife Mintsya (nee Trager) - grandfather and grandmother of Natan Rahlin. Snovsk, beginning of 20 century

Usher Zalman Rahlin and his wife Mintsya (nee Trager) – grandfather and grandmother of Natan Rahlin. Snovsk, beginning of 20 century

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

There were 3 synagogues in the shtetl. Two of them, the Old and New, were located next to each other on Zhoresa Street.

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.

Documents with stamp of Radin yeshiva in Snovsk, 1920

Documents with stamp of Radin yeshiva in Snovsk, 1920

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

In the 1920s, there were 3 schools in the town, 2 Russian and 1 Jewish. The Jewish school was closed in 1932.

In the 1920s, the Jewish youth of Snovsk took an active part in the Zionist movement. In the Fidelman family, 2 sons and a daughter were active Zionists.

In 1925, the Jewish population of Snovsk was 44% of the total, which was the highest rate in the Chernihiv region. They were mostly craftsmen, a small number of small industrialists, officials, workers, doctors, and teachers.

Belozovskiy family in Snovsk, 1932

Belozovskiy family in Snovsk, 1932

The Jewish community tried to defend their rights in various areas of social and economic life. At the same time, the “Evsektsiya” created by the government performed a useful function for the Soviet authorities in destroying Jewish traditional culture and independent Jewish political, ideological, and social activity, often with the participation of Jews themselves.

Despite the government’s actions to deprive them of their national and cultural traditions and peculiarities, the Jews of Snovsk tried to defend their rights.

In January 1926, a statement by the city headquarters of Hashomer-Hatzair was distributed in Snovsk, which spoke of resistance to the assimilation policies of the Evsektsiya.

From the documents of the Evsektsiya on the fight against melameds:
At the beginning of 1926, 1927, there were a considerable number of religious cheders in Snovsk. Recently, decisive measures have been taken to combat them, both ideologically and through administrative influence. Two indicative courts of the Chernihiv evkamera were held, and two teachers were held responsible for religious education of children.

One of those who fell under the resolute struggle against Zionism was Yosif Ardashnikov. A resident of Snovsk, born in 1908. He lived with his mother at the address: Shchorsa Street, 22 (now Independence Street). Yosyp was arrested in September 1928 and sentenced to 3 years in labor camps.

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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 outside the city and executed. Some Jews tried to hide among the local populace. Most were found and shot by the local Ukrainian police. Some details can be found here.

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. 

Jews gathered to pray at the homes of Berla Yakovlevna, Girsh Firger, and the illegal minyanim were visited by Firger, Lystikman, Kholodnyak, and Rakhlin. Before 1962-1963, there was a shochet in the city.

Snovsk, 2020:

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About closer of religious community from KGB files:

In the city of Shchors in the Chernihiv region, the main role in carrying out Cheka measures to break down the Jewish religious community was played by the family ties of active clerics, including members of the governing body known as the “twenty.”

The religious community in this city was small and seemingly inactive. Its chairman, Lokshin, did not enjoy much authority among the clerical elements, and no one really paid attention to him, but no one expressed any intention to re-elect him either.

Upon closer examination, it was found that Lokshin was essentially a puppet in his position as chairman. In reality, the synagogue and Jewish community were led by a group of active clerics whose relatives held responsible positions in Soviet institutions, many of whom were members of the Communist Party. These clerical elements officially refused to take up leadership positions in the religious community, not wanting to compromise their relatives or cause complications for them as members of the Communist Party.

Therefore, when asked by an agent of the UKGB why their representative was so unauthoritative and seemed like a beggar, one of the community leaders, Manoilenko, replied: “No one wants to take up the post of chairman of the community, no one wants to have any trouble.”

Thus, Lokshin headed the religious community only because other individuals did not want to compromise themselves by holding that position.

Given that it would be difficult to find another candidate if LOKSHIN was removed from his position, the UKGB decided to have the chairman of the European religious community deregistered. At the same time, through relatives, they took steps to dismantle the synagogue’s assets, creating conditions in which it would be impossible to hold new elections for the “twenty” and thus cease the community’s activities and close the synagogue.

In carrying out these measures, the UKGB, in coordination with party bodies and the Authorized Council for Religious Cults of the Oblast Executive Committee, established a special commission that conducted an examination of the sanitary and fire safety conditions of the synagogue. The commission, having drawn up a negative report, presented it to the Authorized Council for Religious Cults at the Chernigov Oblast Executive Committee, which, having reviewed the commission’s findings, on the basis of legislative acts, prohibited holding prayer meetings in unsanitary and fire-hazardous conditions and deregistered the representative of the community LOKSHIN, proposing new elections.

At the same time, measures of a preventive nature were taken against active clericals through their family ties, which made it possible to neutralize the activities of this contingent of persons, as a result of which they were unable to organize new elections for the community leadership.

As a result of these measures, the Jewish religious community in the town of Shchors, Chernigov Oblast, essentially without a head, ceased its activities and was subsequently deregistered as “self-removed”. The synagogue was closed.


Former house of Jewish family Tkachev, 2020

Former house of Jewish family Tkachev, 2020

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. The first meeting was held in the library building. The first chairman of the community was a local journalist named Marik Spectorov, who later moved to Israel. After him, Mark Lystikman became the chairman. Following Mark, Maria Avramovna Pismennaya became the chairman of the community.

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…

As of 2020, 15 Jews lived in Snovsk.

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”.

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Holocaust mass grave

The land for the Jewish cemetery was purchased from a local landowner in 1890.

During Soviet times, there was a caretaker who lived at the cemetery.

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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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.

Photos from my visit in 2020:

Photo were taken from Lo-Tishkah website and were shot in 2010s:

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




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