Chernihiv Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

Country
Ukraine
Region
Chernihiv
District
Chernihiv
Settlement
Chernihiv
Site address
Chernihiv Jewish Cemetery
GPS coordinates
51.49816,31.27339
Perimeter length
1008 metres
Is the cemetery demolished
no
Type and height of existing fence
Type of the fence
Preservation condition
Fenced and protected Jewish cemetery
General site condition
Fenced and protected Jewish cemetery. The cemetery site is somewhat overgrown with bushes. The site is scattered with refuse and fragments of broken tombstones. One of the tombs is occupied by the homeless. A small portion of the cemetery on the western side has been appropriated for agricultural use.
Number of existing gravestones
Approximately 3,000 tombstones. A number of the tombstones are partially sunken in the ground, rendering it difficult to make an accurate count.
Date of oldest tombstone
1893
Date of newest tombstone
2003
Urgency of erecting a fence
Medium
Land ownership
Property of local community
Preserved construction on site
Drone surveys
No

Historical overview

The exact period of the cemetery’s establishment is unknown. It first appears on a Russian map of the region from the 1880s. Given the oldest preserved tombstone dates to the late 19th century, it can be inferred the cemetery already existed in that era.
The earliest known Jewish community in Chernihiv dates back to the 13th century, but there are some references, to Khazar Jews settling in Chernihiv as far back as the 11th century. Jews returned to Chernihiv in the first half of the 17th century, but the community was destroyed during the Khmelnytsky Uprising of 1648. The synagogue was built in 1864. In 1872, a large drugstore was built. According to the census of 1897, the town was home to 8,805 Jews, over 29% of the population (27,006 people). In the mid 19th century, Perez Hen, one of the prominent Chabad Chasidim, served as the official rabbi. Hayyim David Zevi Hen, his son, inherited the position. Traditionally, the primary activities of Jews in the region were trade and commerce. In the early 20th century, there were four synagogues and many houses of worship. Most religious Jews belonged to the Chabad movement. The Jewish community survived several pogroms. In 1905, a Jew was killed and many more were wounded (the grave still exists on Jewish cemetery). Later, Chernihiv suffered a pogrom led by Denikin and Petliura (in which 40 were murdered, 100 wounded, and 30 houses were destroyed). In 1939, Chernihiv was home to 12,204 Jews (17.79% of the total population). Chernihiv was occupied from September 1941 until September 1943. Before the occupation, many Jewish families were able to evacuate. First, 19 Jews were shot by the Sonderkommando in September. From October 23rd-24th, 260 Jews were shot. As of December 1st, 1941 only 57 Jews remained alive in Chernihiv. They were all later shot. In Chernihiv, Jews from the district were murdered, as well as those from Hungary and Romania. The total number of Holocaust victims here is still unknown (around 2,000). The Jewish community, numbering 219, was registered in July 4th, 1946. The first head of the community was Indman. The last operating synagogue was closed during the anti-religious campaign in 1959. The Jewish community was reestablished in 1989 along with the Chernihiv Centre of Jewish Culture. According to the 1989 census, the Jewish population numbered 4,558. As of 2001, the Jewish Community has around 3,500 members. The community has a kindergarten, a Sunday school, a synagogue, and a choir. Today the rabbi is Israel Silberstein. The exact period of the cemetery’s establishment is unknown. It first appears on a Russian map from the 1880s. The oldest preserved tombstone dates to the late 19th century, so it can be inferred the cemetery already existed at that point. The cemetery has separate sections for men and women. The oldest preserved gravestone dates to February 1903, belonging to one Benjamin Isaakovich Mindelis. The last known Habbad Hasidic burial took place in 1975, and the cemetery was closed that year. The cemetery was partially destroyed by German troops during occupation.