Bilhorod-Dnistrovs’kyy Jewish Cemetery
The first evidences on this cemetery existence date back to the first half on 19th century. According to Russian Jewish Encyclopedia, the oldest tombstone on this cemetery dated to 1821. The tombstone of 1828 was found by ESJF team. The cemetery appears on the city plans from 1841. It is unknown, whether this cemetery was the first Jewish cemetery of Bilhorod-Dnistrovs“ky, and where the Jewish cemetery of Akkerman of pre-Russian period was located. The cemetery is believed to be hardly damaged during WWII. It is operating today.
The first mention of Jews in Bilhorod-Dnistrovs’kyy dates back to 1330. Jews arrived to the city in increasing numbers after their exile from Spain in 1492. The Karaite community existed from the first half of the 16th century onwards. By 1807, a hevra kadisha had been established. In 1827, the Jewish population numbered 413 individuals. By the mid-19th century, two synagogues were operating. In 1865, Jews suffered from a pogrom. In 1882, a Jewish hospital and a Talmud Tora had been opened and, by the late 19th century, a Sabbath school was founded. At the same time, Zionist organisations began to be active. Hovevei Zion was one of the first Zionist organisations in Bilhorod-Dnistrovs’kyy. Many of the Jews from nearby regions migrated to the city during the second half of the 19th century. By 1897, the Jewish population had increased to 5,624 (20% of the total population). On October 17, 1905, a pogrom killed eight Jews. In 1910, six synagogues, a charity organisation for the poor, two vocational schools for men, and two for women existed. After the emergence of the Tzeirei Zion organisation during the Great Revolution, a democratic Jewish community, a Zionist library, and a Hebrew kindergarten were established in the city. The Jewish population grew to around 8,000 in 1940. Under the Soviet Union, Jewish organisations were closed and their leaders were arrested and disappeared. On June 13, 1941, ten Jewish families were deported to Siberia. Many young Jews were called up for Red Army military service. On July 28, 1941, Nazi forces occupied the city. In July to September 1941, nearly 3,000 Jews, both locals and those from the city’s outskirts, were executed. On September 1941, the 55 remaining Jews in the town were expelled to Transnistria. 250 Jews returned to Bilhorod-Dnistrovs’kyy after the war.