NOVOGRUDOK


NOVOGRUDOK (Pol. Nowogródek; also referred to by Jews as Novaredok), city in Grodno district, Belarus. Novogrudok was within Poland-Lithuania until the third partition of Poland (1795), when it passed to Russia, from 1842, and a county capital in the province of Minsk. It reverted to Poland in 1921, but passed to the Soviet Union in 1939. The Jewish community of Novogrudok, one of the oldest in Lithuania, is first mentioned in documents in 1529. In 1563, at the request of the townspeople, King Sigismund II Augustus ordered that the Jews were to move to one of two streets at a distance from the center, where space had been allocated to them for building houses. In 1576 King Stephan Báthory confirmed all the former rights of the Jews of Novogrudok and of the other Jews in Lithuania. According to a decision of the Council of the Province of Lithuania (see *Councils of the Lands) of 1623, Novogrudok Jews were subject to the jurisdiction of the *Brest community. There were 893 poll tax payers in the community and surrounding villages attached to it in 1765. There were 2,756 persons in 1847 and 5,105 in 1897 (63.5% of the total population). In the 19th century two of Russia's leading rabbis, Jehiel Michael *Epstein and Isaac Elhanan *Spektor, officiated in Novogrudok. At the end of the 19th century the city became one of the centers of the *Musar movement after a *yeshivah and *kolel had been founded there in 1896 by Joseph Hurwitz, one of the most prominent disciples of Israel *Salanter and a leader of the Musar movement. During World War I the yeshivah was transferred to *Gomel. The Zionist movement and the Bund were active before World War I and after. The community decreased considerably after that war, numbering 3,405 (53.4% of the total) in 1921 and increasing to 6,309 in 1931. There were a Hebrew Tarbut school, a Yiddish CYSHO school that operated for 4 years, and a religious Tushia school (of the Mizrachi). In the 1930s the Yiddish weeklies Novaredok Life and Novaredok Week appeared in the town.

[Yehuda Slutsky]

Holocaust Period

In 1939 after the outbreak of the war (September 1939) refugees from western Poland settled in town. During the period of Soviet rule (1939–41), the institutions of the Jewish community were destroyed, enterprises were nationalized, small trade was drastically reduced, and artisans were organized in cooperatives. The Jewish schools were closed and a Yiddish one with a Soviet curriculum was opened. There were arrests among the "bourgeois" Jews. With the outbreak of the war between Germany and the U.S.S.R. on June 22, 1941, groups of Jews attempted to reach Soviet territory but the Soviet guards prevented them from crossing the border and they returned to the city. Germans entered the city on July 3, and as early as July 10 they had murdered about 50 men. On December 7 the Jews were ordered to assemble in the courtyard of the district courthouse. About 1,896 skilled laborers with their families (only two children per family) were concentrated in a ghetto, and the others, about 4,500, were murdered outside the town. The Aktion was carried out by Einsatzkommando 8, with the help of local policemen. The survivors were concentrated in the ghetto that was set up in the suburb of Peresieka immediately after this Aktion. The first chairman of the Judenrat was the lawyer Ciechanowski, and the second was Chaim Ajzykowicz. Jews from the surrounding communities were also brought into the ghetto; they came from Weielub, Korelicze, Iwieniec, Rubiezewicze, Lubcz, and Naliboki.

The second Aktion was carried out on Aug. 7, 1942, and about 2,000 Jews perished in it. Only 1,240 artisans survived. They were concentrated in two places: construction workers in Peresieka and the others in a camp that was set up at the district courthouse. In October 1942 a group of about 50 Jews succeeded in escaping to the forests. Contact was made with a partisan unit headed by a Jew, Tuvia *Bielski. On Feb. 4, 1943, the Germans liquidated the camp of construction workers. In another Aktion on May 7, about 375 people were killed including the last of the women and children, and 300 skilled workers were left. At the beginning of 1943 a resistance group was created by Berko Joselewicz, Yasha Kantorowiez, and others, and headed by Dr. Yaakov Kagan. They decided to break out of the camp in which they were imprisoned and join the partisans. They dug a tunnel, and about 323 Jews escaped, but only 200 succeeded in reaching the forests; most of them joined the Jewish Battalion commanded by the Bielski brothers. Many of them took part in the fighting against the Nazis, Belorussian collaborators, and others. After the war about 1,200 Jews returned to Novogrudok from hiding in the forests. In 1970 the Jewish population was estimated at about 75 (15 families).

[Aharon Weiss]

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

S.A. Bershadski (ed.), Russko-Yevreyskiy arkhiv, 2 (1882), 183, 202; Nedelnaya Khronika Voskhoda, no. 47 (1887); Ha-Ẓefirah, 280 (1887); Regesty i Nadpisi, 1–2 (1899–1910), indexes; M.Z.H. Walbrinski and S.Z. Markovitz, Le-Korot Ir Novohredak ve-Rabbaneha (1913); A. Harkavy, Novoredak (1921); idem, Perakim me-Ḥayyai (1938), 4–18; J. Źmigródski, Nowogródek i okolice (1927); M. Schalit (ed.), Oyf di Khurbons fun Milkhomes un Mehumes (1913), 393–411, 1093–101; A. Gumener (ed.), 15 Yor Kinder-Heym in Novogrudek (1933); Yahadut Lita, 1 (1959), index; Sefer Novorodek (1963). HOLOCAUST PERIOD: T. and Z. Belski, Yehudei Ya'ar (1946); B. Ajzensztajn, Ruch podziemny w gettach i obozach (1946), 182–3; Y. Jaffe, Partizanim (1951); M. Zuckerman and M. Bassok (eds.), Milḥamot ha-Getta'ot (1954), 63, 492–3; M. Kahanowitz, Milḥemet ha-Partizanim ha-Yehudim be-Mizraḥ Eiropah (1954), index; Sefer ha-Partizanim ha-Yehudim, 1 (1958), 415–6.


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