Bratslav Jewish Cemetery
According to the Commission on the Preservation of Jewish Heritage, the cemetery was established in the first half of the 16th century.
The first Jews settled in Bratslav in the 17th century. In 1616, there were 18 Jews. The Jewish community suffered during the Khmelnytsky uprising. In 1765, there were 101 Jews in Bratslav. The Jewish community also suffered during the Haidamak uprising. In 1793 there were 96 Jewish merchants in town. In 1810, Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav lived in the town. Bratslav was a Hasidic center during this period.
Natan Steinherz set up a Hebrew press in the town in 1819 and published the works of Rabbi Nahman.
According to the census of 1897, the Jewish population numbered 3,290, which was 43% of the total population. At the beginning of the 19th century Jews owned most of the industrial enterprises and workshops. In 1853 there was one wooden synagogue and 3 prayer houses: the Old Beit-Midrash (300 parishioners, Rabbi Meilah Galitskiy), the New Beit-Midrash (300 parishioners, Rabbi Isaak Gelman) and the Kloiz (203 parishioners, Rabbi Shmuel Sirota).
At the beginning of the 20th century, there was one synagogue and 6 prayer houses. In 1909, Rabbi Avraam-Yakov Rabinovich was the head of the community. In 1913, Olshanskiy Abraham Davidovich was the official rabbi. In the 1920s and 1930s there was a Yiddish school. The Jewish community suffered from numerous pogroms between 1918-1921. Between May 1919 and March 1921, there took place 14 pogroms, in which over 200 Jews were killed. After the pogroms, many Jews left Bratslav for bigger towns. In 1923 the Jewish population dropped to 1,504, but grew slightly in 1926 to 1,840 Jews.
By 1939, the Jewish population numbered 1010 (25.4%).
Bratslav was occupied on July 22nd 1941. The killings started during the first weeks of the occupation.
In September 1941, Jews from Bessarabia and Bukovina were transported to Bratslav. Around 750 local Jews were concentrated in the ghetto. During the night of January 1st 1942, most of the inmates of the Bratslav ghetto were moved to the Pechora camp, some Jews were left in Bratslav for construction works.
In February 1942, around 20 of Bratslav’s Jews were murdered. Bratslav was liberated on March 17th 1944. Only 200 Jews from the area and 20 or 30 Jews from Bukovina and Bessarabia survived in Bratslav.
During the occupation 1,840 Jews were executed.
In 1989 the Jewish population numbered 137 Jews and in 1993, it had fallen to 71. As of 2014 there were only around 50 Jews. In that year, the Jewish community gained permission to use the large Synagogue.
Nowadays Bratslav is a place of Hasidic pilgrimage. Around 7,000 Breslover Hasidic Jews visit Bratslav each year.
Rosalia Gorskaya (née Fainberg), an opera singer, was born in 1891 in Bratslav.
The exact period of the cemetery’s establishment is unknown. According to the Commission on the Preservation of Jewish Heritage, the cemetery was established in the first half of the 16th century. The earliest gravestone found dates to 1766, the most recent dates to 2016. There are more than 1,000 gravestones and 2 ohels. There is also a memorial sign to the pogroms of 1919-1921. The cemetery is a fenced and protected Jewish cemetery.