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Gorki, Belarus

GORKI (until 1932 and again from 1992 Nizhni Novgorod), city on the Volga River, Belorussia. It served as an entrepôt for the merchants of Russia and Russian Central Asia from the early 19th century. From 1835 Jewish merchants were permitted to attend its celebrated fairs where they were allowed to purchase goods and, with the exception of imported articles, sell them wholesale. A permanent Jewish community was founded by soldiers discharged from the army of Nicholas I (see *Cantonists ), and in 1873 received permission to maintain a house of worship. On June 7, 1884, pogroms resulting in murder and looting broke out in Kanavino, a suburb of the city. The Jewish community of Gorki numbered 2,377 in 1897 (2.5% of the total population). It increased during World War I when refugees from the war zone arrived there, and in 1926 numbered 9,328 (5.2% of the total). In 1939 there were 14,319 Jews in Gorki (2.2%). According to the census of 1959 the Jewish population of Gorki district was 17,827; the majority apparently lived in the capital. In 1970 the Jewish population was estimated at about 30,000. Most left for Israel and the West during the mass emigration of the 1990s. There was a Jewish cemetery, but no synagogue.

[Yehuda Slutsky]

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