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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
201 MASTY: Hrodno [Most, Mosty]
202 MAZYR: Minsk
203 MEDVEDICHY:
204 MIKASEVICY: Minsk
205 MIKHALISHKI: Grodno
206 MIKHANOVICHI: Minsk
207 MINSK: Minsk
208 MIORY: formerly Vilna guberniya
209 MIR: Vitebsk, Minsk
210 MOGILEV (Mahilyow, Mahilyow, Mogilev, Molev, Mohylew, Mohyliv, Mogiliovas, Mohylów, Mogilew, Mahileu, Mohilev, Mahiliou, Mogilyov, Mohliv, Mogilev-na-Dniepr
211 MOLCHAD: Grodno
212 MOLCHADZ: see MOLDCHAD
213 MOLODECHNO (Maladzyechna): Vilna
214 MOTAL: Grodno
215 MOZYR: see MAZYR
216 MSCIZ: Minsk
217 MSTIBOVO: Vitebsk
218 MYADZYEL: Minsk-Vilna
219 MYSH: see NOVAYA MYSH
220 NARACH (Kobilniki): Minsk (Vilna)
221 NAROC: see NARACH
222 NAROWLYA: Gomel (Minsk)
223 NAVAHRUDAK: Grodno [Novogrudok,Novaredok, Novogrudek, Novohorodok, Novradok, Nowogrudok, Nowogradek, Navharadak, Nawahradak, Nowogródek, Navaredok , Naugardukas ,
224 NESVIZH: Minsk
225 NOVAYA MYSH: Brest, Minsk
226 NOVOGRUDOK: see NAVAHRUDAK
227 NOVOYEL'NYA (KOCKI): Grodno
228 NOVY DVOR: Vilna/Lida uezd [Novyy Dvor, Nowy Dwór, Novi Dvor, Novy Dvur, Novyy Dvur]
229 NOVY SVERZHEN: Minsk
230 NOWOJELNIA: see Kocki
231 OBCHUGA: Minsk
232 ODELSK: see Adelsk
233 ODELSK: see Adelsk
234 OKTYABR'SKIY RAYON
235 OPSA:
236 ORLYA: formerly Lida uezd/Vilna gub [Orla , Orli , Orlowa, Orle, ]
237 ORSHA: Vitebsk
238 OSHMIANY: see ASHMYANY
239 OSHMYANA: see Ashmyany
240 OSOVETS: Mozyr uyezd, Misnk oblast
241 OSTRAVY: Minsk
242 OSTROSHITSKI GORODOK: Minsk
243 OSTRYNA: [Astrin, Ostrino, Ostrin, Astryna, Istrin] former Lida uezd
244 OSVEYA: Vyerkhnyazdvinsk Raion, Vitebsk
245 OSVEYA: Vyerkhnyazdvinsk Raion, Vitebsk
246 OSZMIANA: see Ashmyany
247 OZERNITSA: see Aziarnica
248 PARAFIANOV: see DOKSHITZ
249 PASTAVY: Vitebsk/Vilna
250 PESKI: Grodno [Piaski, Piesk, Pyesk, P'yaski]
251 PINSK: Mogilev, Minsk
252 PLESCHENITSY: Minsk
253 PLISSA: former Vilna
254 POGOST-ZAGORODSKIY: Minsk
255 POLATSK: Vitebsk
256 POLONKA: Minsk
257 POLOTSK: see POLATSK
258 POLOZK: see POLATSK
259 POROZOVO: Grodno
260 POSENICH
261 POSENITZ: Mogilev
262 POSTAVY: Vitebsk, see PASTAVY
263 POTOKI: see ROZHANKA
264 PRUZHANY: Brest/Grodno
265 PUHOVICHI: Minsk
266 PYETRYKAW: former Vilna/ now Minsk
267 PYSHNO:
268 RADOSHKOVICHI: Minsk/Vilna
269 RADUN: former Lida uezd, now Voranava district, Hrodna Voblast [Rodin, Radin]
270 RAHACHOW: Gomel
271 RAKOV: Minsk
272 RASNA: Mogilev
273 RATCHEV: see Rogachev
274 RECHITSA: see Rechytsa
275 RECHYTSA: Minsk
276 ROMANOVO: Mogilev
277 ROS: Grodno
278 ROZANKA: Lida uzed. Vilna gub and Grodno (Malewicze) [Rozanka, Ruzhanka]
279 ROZINOI: see Ruzhany
280 RUBEL: Minsk
281 RUBEZHEVICHI: Minsk
282 RUZHANKA: see Rozhanka
283 RUZHANY: Brest, Grodno
284 SAMOHKVALOVICHI: Minsk
285 SANEZHNIKI: Mogilev
286 SCHEDRIN: see Seliba
287 SCUCYN: (former Lida uezd/Vilna guberniya) [Shtutchin,Shtutchin, Shchuchyn , Szczuczyn, Ščučyn, Szczuczyn ]
288 SELETS: Brest/Mogilev
289 SELIBA: Minsk
290 SENNO: Mogilev
291 SHARKOVCHINA: Vilna, Vitebsk
292 SHATSK: Minsk
293 SHCHADRYN: Minsk
294 SHCHEDRIN: see Shchadryn
295 SHCHENETS
296 SHERESHEVO: Grodno
297 SHKLOV: Mogilev volbast [Shklow, Szkłów,Shkloŭ, and Zarecha and Rizhkevich ]
298 SHTUTCHIN: see Scucyn
299 SINYAVKA: Minsk
300 SKIDEL: Grodno
 
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