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Bratslav, Ukraine

BRATSLAV, small town in Podolia, Ukraine, on the River Bug. A Jew leased the collection of customs duties in Bratslav in 1506, and it appears that a Jewish settlement developed in the town from that time. In 1545 the Jews were exempted from the construction of roads "so that they could travel on their commercial affairs." The Jews underwent much suffering during the attacks of the Tatars on the town during the 16th century (especially in 1551). At the beginning of the 17th century, commercial relations were maintained between the Jews of Bratslav and those of Lvov. In the *Councils of the Lands , Bratslav was attached to the "Land of Russia," of which Lvov was the principal community.

In 1635 King Ladislas IV confirmed the rights of the Jews of Bratslav. At the time of the *Chmielnicki massacres, a number of Jews from Bratslav were murdered in Nemirov and Tulchin, where they had taken refuge. The community, however, was reconstituted soon afterward. In 1664, when the Cossacks invaded the land on the western side of the Dnieper River, they massacred the Jews in Bratslav. Between September 7, 1802, and October 16, 1810 (date of his death), Rabbi *Naḥman of Bratslav lived in the town, and it became an important ḥasidic center during this period. His disciple, Natan Steinherz, set up a Hebrew press in the town in 1819 and published the works of his teacher. At the end of that year, the authorities closed down the press after they had been approached by informers. The community numbered 101 according to the census of 1765 (195 including Jews in the surrounding areas) and 221 in 1790 (398 including those in the surrounding areas). After Bratslav's incorporation into Russia (1793), 96 Jewish merchants and 910 townsmen lived in the district in 1797. The Jewish population numbered 3,290 according to the census of 1897 (43% of the total population). In the beginning of the 19th century, most of the industrial enterprises and workshops in the town were owned by Jews, Nearly all the shops also belonged to Jews and all the dentists and midwives were Jews. Between May 1919 and March 1921, there 14 pogroms in Bratslav, over 200 Jews were killed, 600 children became orphans, and 1,200 people were left without livelihoods. As a result of the pogroms, many Jews left for the bigger towns. The population dropped to 1,504 in 1923, rose to 1,840 in 1926, and dropped again to 1,010 in 1939 (total population 3,974). During the 1920s, many Jews worked as artisans but faced discrimination in their unions. The local government refused to grant land to Jews who asked to organize a farm cooperative. Bratslav was taken by the Germans on July 22, 1941, and included in Romanian Transnistria on September 1. In the same month a ghetto was established, and Jews deported from Bessarabia and Bukovina were brought there. At the end of December there were 747 Jews in the town. It can be assumed that many more had been killed or died there before that time. On January 1, 1942, most of the ghetto inmates were deported to the Pechora concentration camp and 50 were drowned in the South Bug River. There was a Jewish underground in the ghetto numbering 16 persons. They were discovered by the Romanians and executed. Bratslav was liberated on March 17, 1944. Three hundred local Jews and 30 refugees were found there. In 1989 there were 137 Jews in the town and in 1993 only 71. In 1995 a monument to those murdered in the Holocaust was erected in the local cemetery.


A.D. Rosenthal, Megillat ha-Tevaḥ (1927), 98–100; M. Osherowitch, Shtet un Shtetlekh in Ukraine, 1 (1948), 118–31; B. West (ed.), Be-Ḥevlei Kelayah (1963), 176–7; H.D. Friedberg, Toledot ha-Defus ha-Ivri be-Polanyah (19502), 155ff. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: PK Romanyah; PK Ukrainah, S.V.

[Shmuel Ettinger / Shmuel Spector (2nd ed.)]

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