KAUSHANY (Rom. Cǎuşani), small town in Bessarabia, S.E. Moldova. A number of tombstones in the ancient Jewish cemetery in Kaushany, thought to date from the 16th century, indicate that there may have been Jews living in the place in this period. However, it is certain that there was a Jewish settlement in Kaushany by the beginning of the 18th century, when it was the center of the Tatar rule in southern Bessarabia. By 1817 it numbered 53 Jewish families. The community increased with the large Jewish immigration into Bessarabia in the 19th century, and in 1897 numbered 1,675 persons (45% of the total population). In 1853 over 80 families of Jewish farmers in Kaushany were granted landholdings by the state, and were reclassified as "state farmers." Due to difficult economic conditions, they were permitted to return in 1864 to the category of townsmen. A number of Jews in Kaushany continued in agricultural occupations, however, among whom there were large cattle and sheep farmers: in 1849 two Jewish farmers owned between them approximately one thousand head of cattle and three thousand sheep and goats. The Jews in Kaushany numbered 1,872 in 1930 (35.1% of the total population).
After Kaushany passed to Soviet control in 1940, the new authorities immediately arrested the Zionist leaders and exiled them to Siberia, where they all perished. All but one of the synagogues in the town were closed down. When war broke out in the summer of 1941, the Soviet authorities lent their help to all who wanted to escape. Some Jews went to Odessa on foot and continued from there into the interior of the U.S.S.R. Others were handed over to the Germans by local collaborators. All those who remained, as well as those who had been caught while attempting to escape, were taken to the cemetery. The Germans, after removing their gold teeth and rings, poured petrol over them and burned them to death. Local Romanians and Ukrainians assisted in the massacre.
Only three families returned to Kaushany after the war. All the Jewish houses were in ruins and the Jewish cemetery had been desecrated and destroyed. The community was not revived after the war.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.