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Berezhany, Ukraine

BEREZHANY (Pol. Brzeźany), town in Ukrainian S.S.R. and Republic (formerly in E. Galicia). Jews have had a presence in the community since 1570, with many of the 260 early Jewish residents being highly involved in trade.

Berezhany's Large Synagogue was built in 1718, and served a central function in the Jewish community until 1939, when it was turned into a shelter for Soviet refugees. The Soviets then turned the Synagogue into a grain-storage facility, and later the Nazis kept the building as such. The Large Synagogue still stands today.

Jewish representatives from different communities met at the fairs held in Berezhany, e.g., in September 1740. There were 4,305 Jews living in Berezhany in 1900 (over 40% of the total population), and 3,580 in 1921. The first Hebrew school was founded in Berezhany in 1903, by the organization Safa-Brura. Of the 825 pupils attending the German public high school in Berezhany in 1908, 186 were Jews. Before World War I the flour trade was mainly in Jewish hands. The community had a hospital and old-age home, and among the rabbis of Berezhany was Shalom Shvadron.

Prior to World War II the Jewish population in Berezhany was approximately 4,000. In 1941 at the end of Soviet occupation 12,000 Jews were living in Berezhany, most of them refugees fleeing the horrors of the Nazi war machine in Europe. During the Holocaust, on Oct. 1, 1941, 500–700 Jews were executed by the Germans in the nearby quarries. On Dec. 18, another 1,200, listed as poor by the Judenrat, were shot in the forest. On Yom Kippur 1942 (Sept. 21), 1,000–1,500 were deported to Belzec and hundreds murdered in the streets and in their homes. On Hanukkah (Dec. 4–5) hundreds more were sent to Belzec and on June 12, 1943, the last 1,700 Jews of the ghetto and labor camp were liquidated, with only a few individuals escaping. Less than 100 Berezhany Jews survived the war.

In 1945 Berezhany was annexed by the Soviet Union, and since 1991 Berezhany has been a part of Ukraine.


J. Kermisz, "Akcje" i "Wysiedlenie" (1946), index; Bleter far Geshikhte, 4 no. 3 (1953), 104; Bauer, in: Midstream, 4 (1968), 51–56. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: M. Katz (ed.), Brzeźany Narayov ve-ha-Sevivah (1978); S. Redlich, Together and Apart in Brzezany: Poles, Jews and Ukrainians, 19191945 (2002); PK.

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.
The Yivo Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe