Melnytsya Old Jewish Cemetery
The estimated period of the cemetery’s establishment dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries, accompanying the emergence of the local Jewish community. The cemetery appears on Russian maps from the mid-19th century. According to Yizkor Mel’nytsya, two Jewish cemeteries were located next to each other in this area, 100 metres from the town’s beit-midrash. In 1908 to 1909, the old cemetery had reached its limits and was closed. By WWII, both cemeteries were severely overgrown.
After the destruction of the Jewish community during WWII, the cemetery sites were abandoned. At least three gravestones are preserved, and further clearing and research may be useful.According to some sources, Jews were living in Mel’nytsya by the year 1569. In 1787, there were 54 Jews in the town, and by 1867, the community had a synagogue. The Jewish population had reached 1,599 (62% of the total population) by 1897. In the early 20th century, one of the town’s rabbis was Avrom Finkelshtein. In 1914, Jews owned a pharmacy, a tavern and three dozen trade places in Mel’nytsya. During WWI, many Jewish houses were destroyed. In the first years after WWI, Jews suffered greatly from pillage and violence of the Petlura troops and Belachovzes gangs. During the interwar period, there were four synagogues, two libraries, and a drama group, as well as an active heder for children’s education. The Jewish population numbered 875 (63% of the total population) in 1921. During the 1930s, the Zionist movements Ken Betar, Halutzim and Young Halutzim began operating in Mel’nytsya. In early July 1941, Germans murdered 60 Jews in the town. The total Jewish population at this time is estimated at 1,040. On July 16, 1941, another 280 Jews were shot. By September 3, 1942, all the Jews of Mel’nytsya had been executed.