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BELARUS - THE JEWISH COMMUNITY

Belarus Cemetery Law was enacted in 2001 that applies to cemeteries of all faiths, including Jewish cemeteries. Some new addendums were added in 2007. Any cemetery unused for 25 years can be reclaimed for other purposes. Owning to the murder of entire Jewish communities by Germans and their Lithuanian, Latvian and Ukrainian partners in the 1941-44 period, the bulk of Jewish cemeteries fell under this law during the years 1966-69. [March 2009]
According to the new cemetery law, all cemeteries can be redeveloped no earlier than in 50 years since the last burial was made and only can be  replaced by a park or something that does not require deep digging into a ground. Buildings can be built 100 years after the last burial. J This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (website of Jewish Heritage Research group: preservation of cemeteries and objects of Jewish heritage). Yuri Dorn [July 2010]

Links for Belarussian Jewry [March 2009]
MAPS of various Belarussian cities: 

Belarus SIG on JewishGen
Shtetls of Belarus links have more information for various towns listed in the Cemetery Project.

JewishGen's ShtetlSeeker references border changes to locate a given town. [February 2009]

Jewish Community information:

2010 UPDATE ON CONDITIONS IN BELARUS: Communists started to destroy Jewish cemeteries in eastern Belarus in the second half of the 1930s. One example is the former Minsk Jewish cemetery, which was replaced by a stadium "Dinamo" in 1937. During WII, Germans used tombstones from Jewish cemeteries to build roads, dams, and forts. Also German Nazi collaborators executed Jewish population in the Jewish cemetery sites. Today these mass graves are commemorated with Holocaust memorials (Minsk, Novogrudok, Volozhin, Radun, Braslav, and Dolginovo). After the war, most of the Belorussian Jewish cemeteries were closed to new burials. In some places, the local population reused Jewish tombstones for their non-Jewish relatives and to build houses. In 1960s, Soviets started to build on the old Jewish cemeteries and replaced them with stadiums, such as in Grodno, Gomel, Brest; apartment complexes such as in Slutzk, Voronovo, Lida, Lyakhovichy, and Pinsk. Since the end of the 1980s after the fall of the Soviet regime, Jewish cemeteries began to get more attention, mostly from descendants and from Jewish organizations. Some cemeteries were cleaned, tombstones reerected and cleaned, photographed and catalogued.  Belorussian Jewish organizations took responsibility to maintain some of the old Jewish cemeteries. Despite all the efforts, the majority of old Jewish cemeteries in Belarus are still abandoned. international Very few active Jewish cemeteries remain, some are in Bobruisk, Borisov, Mogilev, Vitebsk, and Orsha. One cemetery (with wooden tombstones and founded in 1568) is located in the village called Lenin. Some famous Rabbis are buried in Belorussian Jewish cemeteries, well known pilgrimage sites such as Borisov, Grodno, Radun, Volozhin, Slonim, and Mir. Source: Jewish Heritage Research Group in Belarus, 220002 Minsk, 13B Daumana St. tel/375-173-345612 and fax/375-173-343360.
[July 2010]

2002 UPDATE ON CONDITIONS IN BELARUS: Legislation effecting cemeteries that were inactive for twenty-five years (of all religious faiths) was promulgated under Soviet rule. More than just Jewish sites suffered. The murder of entire Jewish community in 1941-44 left Jewish cemeteries prey to this law in 1966-1969 but the central Minsk Dynamo Market sits atop the Russian Orthodox cemetery. Many religious buildings of all faiths were subject to Soviet "adaptive reuse." Also, during the 1991-1994 transitional period, some cemeteries were partially destroyed. Under the current government, supportive to the Jewish community, this practice ceased. Minsk has no Jewish cemetery, but development of the old cemetery property is prohibited by the Minsk city government. Bobruisk and Mogilev cemeteries are still active. Mogilev recently received additional cemetery space from the local authority. The East European Jewish Heritage Project ( ) negotiated with the Belarussian Committee for the Preservation of the Nation's Heritage to protect Belarus' Jewish cemeteries. To be protected, indexing and mapping of headstones must be done and a barrier (fence, wall, hedge) must be erected around the site to demarcate its boundaries. The current obstacle to preserving cemeteries is funding; however, these same poor economic conditions also prevent development. Nature and indifference are the main threats to Jewish cemeteries in Belarus. Small, unattended cemeteries become overgrown, as memorial markers topple, damaged by vegetation and weathering. Rural sites disappear under secondary forests. Today, few Jews throughout the world donate to the preservation or maintenance of these cemeteries. The largest international Jewish 'aid' organization participating in restoration in the past announced a 40% reduction in this year's aid. Jews are responsible for our own heritage throughout the world. Because the present Belarussian government now supports the Jewish community, preserving the physical remains of our heritage is imperative. The East European Jewish Heritage Project will assist. Contact Franklin J. Swartz, Executive Director, East European Jewish Heritage Project [March 2002] Franklin J. Swartz, Executive Director, East European Jewish Heritage Project, c/o Voluntas
P. O. Box 100, Minsk 220074, Republic of Belarus. Belarus Tel: +375 17 252 7314 Belarus Mob: +375 29 699 4016. Fax: +375 271 4736. London Tel: +44 20 7193 5474. Boston, MA Tel: +1 617 418 3202.


REFERENCE: History of Jews in Belorussia and Ukraine by Dymshytz, St-Petersburg, 1944. Almost all the cemeteries described are on hills, sometimes covered by woods. The most ancient ones were destroyed although some of them exist today on the original places. Many Jewish cemeteries are converted into Christians ones. Usually the stones are 1m-1.2-m high and 0.5-m width. The reverse side of the stone is not polished. The top of the stone is half-round and sometimes partially broken as an image of sorrow. The decor is very limited with sometimes a Star of David and sometimes blessing hands or menorah. The images are dated second half of the last century: in MIR-a bird, in SHARKOVCHINA-a lion, in DRUE and DISNA-a lion, a bird and floral ornamentation. Source: Irene Kudish.

[UPDATE]  Execution sites of Jewish victims [December 2014]

[UPDATE] Catalog of Jewish Cemeteries in Belarus (can be translated with Google Translate) [June 2015]

Title Filter     Display # 
# Burial Location
1 ADELSK: Hrodna
2 ALEKSIC: Minsk (Khoiniki)
3 AMDUR: see Indura
4 ANDRONIKI: Mogilev
5 ANTOPAL: Brest
6 ASHMYANY: Hrodna
7 ASIPOVICHY: Mahilyow raion and voblast
8 ASMENA: see Ashmyany
9 ASTRAVYETS::Astravets raion, Hrodna voblast
10 ASVIEJA: Vyerkhnyazdvinsk Raion, Vitsebsk
11 AZIARNICA: Slonim, Hrodno
12 BABINAVICY: Babinovichi, Vitebsk
13 BABOVNYA: MINSK
14 BABRUYSK: Babruysk , Mahilyow, Bobroisk ,Bobrujsk , , Bobruisk, Babrujsk, Babruisk.
15 BAHUSEUSK: (Bogushëvsk, Boguszewsk, Bogashevskaya): Syanno, Vitbesk
16 BAKSHTY:(former Lida uezd) [Bakszty, Baksht,Bakšty ,Baksht-Borishoka]
17 BARANAVICHI: Brest Obl;ast, [BARANAVICI, BARANOVICHI, BARANAVICHY,BARANOWICZE, BARANOVICH, BARANOVITCH, BARANOVITSH, BARANOVITS, BARANOVITSH, BARANOVICHE, BARANAVIČY [
18 BARYSAW: (Borisov) Minsk
19 BEGOML': Minsk
20 BELITSA: Bobruisk uezd/Gomel, formerly Lida, Vilna [Bielica, Bilitza, Belitza, Belitzah, Belica]
21 BENYAKONI: see BYENYAKONI
22 BERAZINO: Minsk
23 BESHENKOVICHI: Vitebsk
24 BESHENKOVICHI: [Beshankovichy, Bieszenkowicze] Vitebsk oblast
25 BIALYNICHY: Mogilev
26 BIAROZA: Brest
27 BOBR: Minsk
28 BOBRUISK: see BABRUYSK:
29 BOBYNICHI: Vetrino County, Vitebsk District
30 BOCHEIKOVO: Vitebsk
31 BOGINO: Vitebsk
32 BOGUSHEVICHI: Minsk
33 BOLSHOYE SELO: see VELKAVES
34 BORISOV: see BARYSAW , Minsk
35 BRASLOV: Vitebsk/Kovno
36 BREST: Brest
37 BRONNAYA GORA
38 BUTIN: Grodno
39 BYALYNICHY: Mogilev
40 BYENYAKONI:[Benyakoni, Benakani, Benyakone, Benjakoni, Bieniakoni, Beniakainys [former Lida uezd, Vilna guberniya
41 BYEREZINO/BEREZIN: Minsk
42 BYESHANKOVICHY: Vitebsk
43 BYKHAW: Mogilev
44 BYKHOV: See Bykhaw
45 BYTEN: Grodno
46 CHACHERSK: Mogilev[Chechersk. Czeczersk,
47 CHASHNIKI: Vitebsk
48 CHATYN: see KHATYN
49 CHAUSY: Mogilev
50 CHAVUSY: Brest/Mogilev
51 CHEDRIN: : see Shchadryn and SELIBA
52 CHEREYA: Mogilev
53 CHERNEVKA: Mogilev
54 CHERVEN (Igumen): Minsk
55 CHERYKAW (Cherikov): Mogilev
56 CHYRVONAYA SLABADA: Minsk
57 CRAISK: see KRYASK
58 CZECZERSK: see Chachersk
59 DALHINOV: see DOLGINOVO
60 DALHINOW: see DOLGINOVO
61 DANILEVICIAI: see DUNILOVICHI
62 DASCHKOVKA: Mogilev
63 DAVID-GORODOK: Brest
64 DEDILOVICHI: Minsk
65 DELYATICHI: Minsk
66 DERECHIN: Grodno
67 DEREVNA: Minsk
68 DISNA: Vitebsk
69 DOBROVOLYA: see PINSK
70 DOHLHINEV: see DOLGINOVO
71 DOKSHITZY: Vitebsk (Parafianow)
72 DOLGINOVO: Vilna
73 DOLHINOV: see Dolginovo
74 DRAHICHYN: Brest
75 DRUJA: see Druya
76 DRUYA: Vitebsk
77 DRYBIN: Mogilev
78 DUBROVNO: Vitebsk or Mogilev
79 DUKORA: Minsk
80 DUNILOVICHE: see DUNILOVICHI
81 DUNILOVICHI: Vitebsk
82 DUNILOVICY: see DUNILOVICHI
83 DUNILOWICZE: see DUNILOVICHI
84 DVORETS: Grodno
85 DYATLOVO: former Lia uezd/Vilna guberniyq [Dzyatlava, Zdzięcioł, Zhetl , Zietela , Dsjatlawa , Zdjatlava, Zdzentsyul, Dzentsel, Zhetel, Zetel, Zetl, Zietil, Zitl, Zozhetsiol, Zsetl, Dzięcioł, Dzięciołki, Dzdietel]
86 DZERZHINSK (Koidanovo): Minsk
87 DZISNA: see Disna
88 GEISCHEN: Mogilev
89 GERMANISHKI: Minsk
90 GERMANOVICHE: see GERMANOVICHI
91 GERMANOVICHI: Vitebsk
92 GLUBOKOE (Hlybokaye): Vilna
93 GOLSHANY:
94 GOMEL: Mogilev
95 GORODETZ: Mogilev
96 GORODISHCHE: Minsk
97 GORODOK: Minsk
98 GORODOK: Vitebsk
99 GORY: Mogilev
100 GRODNO: See Hrodno
 
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