BELGOROD-DNESTROVSKI


BELGOROD-DNESTROVSKI (formerly Akkerman; Rum. Cetatea-Albǎ), city in Ukraine, in the region of *Bessarabia, on the river Dniester; in Romania 1918–40 and 1941–44. It is referred to in Jewish sources as Weissenburg and Ir Lavan (both meaning "White City"). Karaite scholars, including apparently Caleb *Afendopolo, lived there in the early 16th century, attesting to the existence of a cultured Karaite settlement during this period. A Rabbanite community is first recorded in Belgorod-Dnestrovski in 1591. In 1808, 18 heads of Jewish families were registered there. According to tradition, a bet midrash was built there in 1815 and a synagogue in 1828. The community grew considerably in the 19th century with the arrival of Jews in Bessarabia from other regions of the *Pale of Settlement. The Jewish population numbered 2,422 in 1864 and 5,613 in 1897 (19.9% of the total). The Jews in Belgorod-Dnestrovski were influenced in social and cultural spheres by the important Jewish center in *Odessa. Most of the Jews earned their living in the grain trade, which was mainly concentrated in Jewish hands, but many engaged in crafts. In 1905, there was a pogrom in which eight Jews were killed. After Bessarabia passed to Romania in 1918, the Jews in Belgorod-Dnestrovski developed a flourishing communal and cultural life, and established cultural and welfare institutions. Jewish institutions before World War II included a hospital (founded in 1882), an old-age home, a kindergarten, and a Hebrew elementary *Tarbut school. In 1930, 4,239 Jews resided in Belgorod-Dnestrovski (12.3% of the total population).

[Eliyahu Feldman]

Holocaust Period and After

In July 1940, during the Soviet occupation, all Jewish life was disbanded, and a few months later, the great Remasline synagogue became a government archive. Prominent and wealthy Jews were arrested and tried or disappeared altogether. On the night of June 13, 1941, dozens of families were exiled to Siberia, most of whom did not survive. When the fighting drew near, in 1941, about 4,000 Jews fled the city, mostly for nearby Odessa. Most of them were caught in the German siege of the city and shared the fate of local Jews, being later executed or deported by the Romanians. Those who remained were the sick and the old and pious Jews. The entry of German and Romanian troops was preceded by the murder of Jews and the plunder of Jewish property on the part of the local peasants. As soon as the town was occupied, all the remaining Jews were gathered in the Remasline synagogue where they were kept for three days without food and water. They were then taken to the Liman River where they were all shot to death; about 800 Jews were killed in the slaughter. Approximately 500 of the prewar population of Belgorod-Dnestrovksi survived the war, and about half of these eventually returned. In 1970, the Jewish population was estimated at 300 families. Most emigrated in the 1990s but Jewish life revived in the 21st century with Rabbi Fishel Chichelnitzky heading a kindergarten, Sunday school, and the new Chabad synagogue.

[Jean Ancel]

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

I. Feldman, Toledot ha-Yehudim be-Besarabyah ad Sof ha-Me'ah ha-Tesha-Esreh (1970), index; idem, in: Tarbiz, 38 (1968/69), 61–74; Y. Schildkraut, Al Ḥurvot Besarabyah (1954), 17–191.


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.