DUBROVNO, city in the Vitebsk district, Belarus. Jews are first mentioned there in 1685. There were 801 Jewish taxpayers in Dubrovno and its environs in 1766. During the 18th century Dubrovno became a center for weaving prayer shawls in Eastern Europe. Conditions were difficult for the weavers, who worked on handlooms, and were harshly exploited by the merchants who supplied them with the yarn and afterward bought their products and marketed them through agents in Jewish settlements throughout Russia and Galicia, and even exported them to Western Europe and America. From the mid-19th century the industry, which had about 660 workers in 1847, encountered competition from the factories in the big cities where prayer shawls were woven by machine, and Jews began to leave the town. The plight of the weavers in Dubrovno aroused the attention of the Jewish community in Russia. In 1902, the Aktsionernoye Obshchestvo Dneprovskoy Manufaktury (Dnieper Textile Industry Ltd.) was founded with the help of the *Jewish Colonization Association (ICA), which held two-thirds of the shares, the rest being subscribed by wealthy Jews in St. Petersburg and Moscow. A large weaving factory, whose directors, staff, and workers were Jews and where Saturday was kept as the day of rest, was established. Near the factory, a public school and a cooperative store were opened. Dubrovno was also a center for scribes of Torah scrolls, phylacteries and mezuzot, who received permission to form a professional union in the early period of Soviet rule. A trainload of 30,000 phylacteries which had accumulated in Dubrovno after the war was permitted to be dispatched to Berlin. The manufacture of prayer shawls ceased in the 1920s. Around 1930, the weaving factory employed about 1,000 workers, of whom a considerable number were Jews. The community numbered 4,481 in 1847, 4,364 in 1897 (57.5% of the total population), 3,105 in 1926 (about 39%), and 2,119 (21%) in 1939. Dubrovno was the birthplace of the Zionist leader M. *Ussishkin and the brothers *Polyakoff. The Germans occupied the town on July 16, 1941. Soon the Jews were collected in a ghetto. In December 1941 the Germans murdered 1,500 Jews. The remaining 300 skilled workers and their families were executed with the help of Belorussian police in February 1942.
Lurie, in: Voskhod, 9 (1889), 1–8; 10 (1890), 1–16; Zeitlin, in: He-Avar, 6 (1958), 70–72.
[Yehuda Slutsky /
Shmuel Spector (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.