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LEPEL, town in Vitebsk district, Belarus. Before the 1917 Revolution it served as a county town in the province (gubernia) of Vitebsk, Russia. In 1802 the Jewish population of Lepel and district totaled 368. Their number increased to 1,509 in 1847 and 3,379 (53.7% of the total population) in 1897. Two Jewish state schools operated, for boys, with emphasis on vocational training, and for girls. During World War I the city was on the Russo-German front, and it also suffered greatly in the war between Russia and Poland (1919–20). There were 1,932 Jews (28.9%) in the town in 1926, and 1,919 by 1939. A Jewish elementary school existed there during the Soviet period. The Germans occupied the city on July 3, 1941, and later established a ghetto there. On February 28, 1942, almost all 1,000 Jews from the Lepel ghetto were shot. There is no information on Jewish life in Lepel after World War II.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.