Chechelnyk Jewish Cemetery
Chechelnik is believed to have been founded in the 17th century with the first Jews settling there soon after. The Jewish community suffered attacks from Khmelnitski’s followers, Cossacks’ and Haidamakas during the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1765, the Jewish population numbered 485. In the late 18th the Great synagogue, whose picturesque ruins remain visible in the town, was built. In 1793, after the Second partition of Poland, it came under the control of the Russian Empire, and became a part of the Podolia Governorate (Podolskaya Gubernia).
In 1897, the Jewish population comprised more than 40% of the population (3388 of 7993). Jews were engaged in commerce, crafting, agriculture, a few were employed in the local factories. There were no charitable organizations, and poverty among the Jewish inhabitants was common. During that time Chechelnik had 23 small chadarim for 367 boys and a private school for boys with 100 students. In 1910, in Chechelnik, besides the Great Synagogue, there were 4 small kloiz. In 1920, the town suffered terribly during the Russian Civil War of anti-Jewish pogroms.
After 1922, Chechelnik became part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic within the USSR. A Jewish council and a Jewish elementary school were established along with a Jewish kloiz.
By 1939 the Jewish population had fallen from around 4000 to 2301 people.
On July 24th 1941, Germans captured the town. The region became a part of the Transnistria Governorate, and a ghetto was set up in Chechelnik. The ghetto held 600-800 local Jews and over 1000 from Bessarabia and Bukovina. Many prisoners died of disease, starvation and forced labor. In January 1943, Chechelnik began to get help from Bucharest, which saved many lives.
In 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Chechelnik became a part of the independent Ukraine. Few Jews live in Chechelnik in the present day.
The Jewish cemetery of Chechelnik is situated at the northern outskirts of the town, next to the Catholic cemetery, and contains around 5000 graves. The oldest surviving matzevot date back to the early 19th century.