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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
Title Filter     Display # 
# Burial Location
301 SHCHEDRIN: see Shchadryn
302 SHCHENETS
303 SHERESHEVO: Grodno
304 SHKLOV: Mogilev volbast [Shklow, Szkłów,Shkloŭ, and Zarecha and Rizhkevich ]
305 SHTUTCHIN: see Scucyn
306 SINYAVKA: Minsk
307 SKIDEL: Grodno
308 SLAWGOROD (Prospisk, Propoisk): Mogilev
309 SLONIM: Grodno oblast, formerly Minsk guberniya
310 SLUTSK: Minsk
311 SMALYAVICHY: Minsk
312 SMARHON: Minsk [Smorgon, Smorgonie, Smurgainys]
313 SMILOVICHI: Minsk
314 SMOLYARKA: Brest
315 SOLY:
316 SOPOCKIN: see Sopotskin
317 SOPOTKIN: see Sopotskin
318 SOPOTKINNIE: see Sopotskin
319 SOPOTSKIN: Grodno
320 STAROBIN: Minsk
321 STARYYE DAROHI: Minsk
322 STCHEDRIN: Mogilev - see Shchadryn
323 STOLBTSY: see Stowbtsy
324 STOLIN: Minsk
325 STOWBTSY: Minsk
326 SURAZH: Vitebsk
327 SVIERZAN NOVY: Minsk
328 SVIR: Vitebsk/Vilona
329 SVISLACH: Grodno
330 SVISLOVICH: Grodno
331 SVISLOVITZ: Minsk
332 SWIR: see SVIR
333 SZCZUCZYN: see Scucyn
334 TIMKOVICHI: Minsk
335 TRABY: Vilna
336 TUROV: Minsk
337 ULLA: Vitebsk
338 URECHYE
339 USHACHI
340 USKROM'YE: see DOKSHITZ
341 UZDA: Minsk
342 UZLYANY: Minsk
343 VALOZHYN: Minsk/Vilna [Volozhin ,Wołożyn, Volozhyn, Vałožyn, Volozin,
344 VASILEVICHI: Gomel
345 VASILISKI: Vasilishki, Vasilishok, Lida uezd [Wasiliszki, Vasilishak, Vasilishok, Vasilishki]
346 VAWKAVYSK: Grodno
347 VELKA VES: Grodno/Vilna
348 VETKA: [Vetka, Viatka , Wietka , Vietka,
349 VIAZHIN: Vilna
350 VIDZY: Vitebsk, Kovno
351 VILEIKA: Vilna
352 VILYATICHI: Mogilev
353 VISHNEVO: Minsk/Vilna (Wiszniew, Vishneva, Višnieŭ,Vishnava, Vishnev, Vishniva, Viszniew, Wisznievo, Wiszniewo, Visneva)
354 VITEBSK: Vitebsk [Vitsyebsk, Witebsk,Vitsebsk, Vicebsk, Viciebsk,, Wizebsk, Vicebska , Vitebskas ,
355 VITSYEBESK: see Vitebsk
356 VOLCHIN: Brest, Kamenets
357 VOLKOVYSK: see VAWKAVYSK
358 VOLMA: see Ivenets
359 VOLOZHIN: see Valozhyn
360 VOLPA: Grodno
361 VORONOVO: Grodno
362 VOROTINSCHINA (Zaverezh'ye): Mogilev
363 VOROTINSHTINA
364 VOZNVOSHCINA: see DOKSHITZ
365 VSELYUB: Minsk
366 VYAZYN: Vilna/Gomel
367 VYERKHVYADZVINSK: Vitebsk
368 VYSOKOE (Vysokaye): Kamenets district, Brest
369 VYUN: Mogilev
370 WASILEWICZE: see VASILEVICHI
371 WIAZYN: see Vyazyn
372 WISHNEV: see Vishnevo
373 WISZNIEW: see Vishnevo
374 WOLKOWYSK: see VAWKAVYSK
375 Wsielub: see VSELYUB, Minsk
376 YEHZONA
377 YELSK: Gomel
378 ZALUDOK : Bojary, Farny Koniec, Krasula, Dabrowo, Kupry, Skiersie, and Zatoki, and the zascianek Wołczki; , Lida uezd
379 ZASLAWYE: Minsk
380 ZAVEREZH'YE: see Vorotinschina
381 ZELVA: Volkovysk Uezd
382 ZELWA I and II
383 ZEMBIN: Minsk
384 ZHEDRIN: see SELIBA
385 ZHELUDOK: Vilna
386 ZHETEL: see DYATLOVO
387 ZHETL: see DYATLOVO
388 ZHLOBIN: Homiel Voblast
389 ZHOLUDOK: see Zaludok
390 ZHYTKAVICHY: Minsk
391 ZOLUDOK: see Zaludok
392 ZUPRANY: former Vilna guberniya
 
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