You are here: Home Eastern Europe Ukraine MEDZHYBIZH: Khmelnytska oblast [Medzhibozh, Mezbizh, Międzybórz , Medzibezh, Medzibozh, Mezhibezh, Międzybóż, Medschybisch, Smiedzyborz]
MEDZHYBIZH: Khmelnytska oblast [Medzhibozh, Mezbizh, Międzybórz , Medzibezh, Medzibozh, Mezhibezh, Międzybóż, Medschybisch, Smiedzyborz] PDF Print E-mail

Coat of arms of Medzhybizh Alternate names: Medzhibozh, Меджибож [Rus], Medzhybizh, Меджибіж  [Ukr], Mezbizh, מעזביזש [Yid], Międzybórz [Pol], Medzibezh, Medzibozh, Mezhibezh, Międzybóż, Medschybisch, Smiedzyborz. 49°26' N, 27°25' E, 65 miles NE of Kamyanets-Podilskyy. 1900 Jewish population:  6,040.

Source in Russian with photos: "First mentioned in the Ipatiev Chronicle in 1146 Jews began to settle in Medzhibozh in the late 15th century. - Early 16th century. In 1509 King Sigismund I appointed Medzhybizh Jew Lieberman royal tax collector, freeing him from the jurisdiction of any authority other than royal. At this time in Medzhibozh formed Jewish community, the Jewish cemetery was established.The first mention of the Jewish community refers to 1511, when a royal decree was issued, the community provides tax benefits. In 1516, the city already had a stone castle, and from 1540, the city nearly 200 years became vlodeniem magnates Senyavskaya. In 1566 , King Sigismund II Augustus confirmed the privileges of the Jews, exempting them from taxes and duties. In 1570 Jews owned Medzebozh 70 homes in the city center. Upon receipt of the city in 1593 the Jewish population of Magdeburg law Medzebozh increased, and by the early 17th century. its Jewish community was one of the largest in the hemline. In 1648-53 years. troops seized three B.Hmelnitskogo Medzhybozh. Every time the Jews who had not managed to escape, tortured and killed. In the late 1650s.Jewish community was restored. In 1661 in Medzhibozh had several Jewish homes and two inns. Despite repeated Cossack raids, accompanied by massacres of Jews (mid-17th century. - Early 18th c.), The Jewish population continued to grow. In 1765, in 2039 was Medzhibozh Jews; their main occupation was trade. Since the second half of the 18th century. Medzhybozh became an important center of the nascent Hasidism. In 1740-60 years. in Medzhibozh founded the first Hasidic community of Israel ben Eliezer, the Baal Shem Tov.Medzhybozh became the residence of the famous Tzaddikim such as Baruch ben Yechiel of Medzebozh, grandson of the Baal Shem Tov (Badhan in his court was a hero of folk tales famous wit Hershele Ostropoler), Avraham Yehoshua Heschel (1755-1825), whose descendants were rabbis in Medzebozh 19. - Early 20th century., And others. Medzhybozh From 1793 became the place Podolia within Russia. in 1847 Medzhibozh lived 1719 Jews in 1897 - 6040 (total population of 8164 people). In 1882 he placed a garrison in Medzhibozh prevented mayhem that tried to hold on April 3-6, the crowd of local farmers. In the early 20th century. Medzebozh Jews actively participated in the Zionist movement. First World War and Civil brought new challenges for Jews Medzebozh. So at the beginning of 1919 a gang of local farmers attempt to arrange a pogrom was suppressed Jewish self-defense under the leadership of J. Mushlina. In 1919, a bloody pogrom in Medzhibozh organized Ukrainian soldiers Directories. These events have caused a wave of emigration and accordingly decrease the number evreyskogonaseleniya Medzebozh. In 1926 Medzhibozh (was part of the USSR in 1919) lived 4614 Jews (58.2% of total population). Until the mid-1920s. functioned ten synagogues and prayer houses (including a synagogue built in the 16th century.; destroyed in the 1950s.), six headers. By the end of the 1920s. Most synagogues were closed, Jewish organizations disbanded. Space bet-midrash based Ba'al Shem Tov and protects it Chassidim hat, staff and the chair of the famous preacher lasted until 1941 In 1922 was opened a Jewish elementary school, since 1929 - the total average (closed authorities in 1938) in 1929 in the vicinity Medzebozh was organized Jewish collective farm that adopted during the famine in the Ukraine in the early 1930s. many Ukrainian peasants. In 1939 Medzhibozh lived 2347 Jews (51.64% of the population). During the Second World War, almost all Jews Medzebozh were destroyed. Only a few Jews were rescued Ukrainian peasants from the surrounding villages. After the war, about two dozen Jewish families returned to Medzhybozh. Since the late 1980s. Medzhybozh - a place of pilgrimage Hasidic United States, Israel and other countries. Jews do not live here. Detailed photos.


  • Rabbi Joel Sirkes (1561-1640), "the Ba"ch," major halachist and Talmud commentator.
  • Rabbi Israel ben Eliezar Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), founder of Chasidism
  • Rabbi Boruch of Medzhybizh (1757-1811), son of Udl the daughter of the Baal Shem Tov
  • Rabbi Nachman of Breslav (1772-1810), Great Grandson of the Baal Shem Tov and founder of the Breslov Hasidic dynasty
  • Rabbi Ze'ev Wolf Kitzes (~1685-1788), disciple of the Baal Shem Tov. Buried next to the Baal Shem Tov in Medzhybizh.
  • Hershel of Ostropol (early 19th century), Jewish comedy figure
  • Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heshel of Apt (1748-1825), the "Apter Rov" and founder of the Apt/Mezhbizh/Zinkover Chasidic rabbinic dynasty
  • Micha Josef Berdyczewski (Micha Bin Goryon) (1865-1921), Hebrew author
  • Joseph Barondess (1867-1928), after living with his wife in Medzhibozh, immigrated to the US in 1888 and became an important labor leader and politician
  • Leonid Afanasyevich Berdichevski (1908-1944), son of Micha Josef Berdyczewski, rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel in the Soviet army during World War II. Was awarded "Hero of the Soviet Union" because of a heroic stand where he was mortally wounded in a tank battle near Yelgava.
  • Milton Shprintzen (1912-2007), born in Medzhybizh, escaped pogroms to emigrate first to Montreal and then to New York in the 1920s. Beginning work as a laborer in textile companies, he worked his way to partnership in a textile firm in New York City and after retiring from that business, he started a new career in finance working until he was past 90.[7]
  • Abraham Colfin (1912-1992) born Abraham Chalfin Ha-Cohen in Medzhybizh, escaped with his mother and two brothers, emigrating first to Romania and then to New York in 1922. Began working in Merchant Marine and then as a cutter and Union Organizer with Local 10 of the ILGWU. Retired as a dress cutter and grader for Kasper of Leslie Fay.
  • Charles Colfin (1915-1988) born Yehoshua Chalfin Ha-Cohen, escaped with family, served with the 34th Infantry Division during World War II from North Africa through the invasions of Italy and Southern France. Received Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Clusters.
  • Ilya Isaacovich Frenkel (1917-2006) World War II veteran, protagonist in Hershel Polianker's novel "Teacher from Medzhibozh."


Old Jewish Cemetery contains the grave of the Baal Shem Tov and other famous and notable Jews Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidism, lived here and died in 1760. His grave is a pilgrimage site.. It has turned into something of a tourist attraction, a magnet for Hasidic Jews from all over the world. [Mar 2014]

New Jewish Cemetery has graves from the early 19th century through to the 1980s. [Mar 2014].


A sign mentioning the Holocaust marks the mass grave north of the city that was home of the Ba'al Shem Tov, founder of Hasidism. The site is reached by crossing a public field. A fence with a locked gate surrounds the site. In 1957, s monument on the gravesite was erected. Jewish group tours, pilgrimage groups, and private visitors visit occasionally . Sporadically, clearing of growth by authorities is done for the never vandalized site. [January 2009]

Operation Barbarossa on July 8, 1941: relatively light resistance. Liberated by Soviet forces on March 24, 1944. Medzhybizh was astride an important east-west supply road that the German occupant's administration wanted to expand into an autobahn-like highway. This road led directly between the city of Proskuriv (now Khmelnytskyi) and routes westward into Germany and the city of Vinnytsia with routes to the eastern front. Vinnytsia was the site of Hitler's headquarters bunker in Soviet territory where he personally directed the war between 1942 and 1943. German Nazis set up Jewish ghettos in Medzhybizh and in Letychiv to assist Organisation Todt in providing slave labor for the road building project. Because of this special road project, Medzhybizh retained its Jewish population longer than most of the surrounding communities, where Einsatzgruppen units executed entire populations of Jews shortly after beginning of German occupation. When the road project was completed in summer 1942, the Einsatzgruppen units were called in and three separate mass shootings of Jews occurred between August 21, 1942 and October 31, 1942 that murdered all Jews in the ghetto. Soviet authorities reported that a total of 2,558 Jews were murdered in ravines to the west of town. Source: Wikipedia. [Mar 2014]


[UPDATE] Photos by Charles Burns [March 2016]



Last Updated on Monday, 28 March 2016 22:27
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