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