Luts’k Old Jewish Cemetery
The exact date of the cemetery’s establishment is unclear, but it existed in the 16th century. Ansky’s expedition in the first decade of 20th century mentions a tombstone from Luts’k dating from 1662. The cemetery contained a Karaite section (north of today’s Shevchenko Street), which was overbuilt in the late 19th century. The cemetery was closed in 1852 and destroyed during the Soviet era. A school, stadium, sports school, and office buildings are constructed on its territory. Recently, a memorial sign was erected at the site.
The Jews of Luts’k are first mentioned in 1388. From the late 15th to the early 16th century, the community had a synagogue and a cemetery. In 1552, more than 50 Jewish houses were counted in the city. At the time of the Khmelnitsky uprising, there were 84 Jewish and 20 Karaite houses in Luts’k. Most of the Jewish population was murdered during the uprising and their property was pillaged, which reduced the number of Jewish houses to 29 and Karaite houses to three. The local community, alongside others, represented Volyn’ in the Council of the Four Lands. The community of Luts’k was attacked by Koliyivshchyna and Haidamaky in the second half of the 18th century. One of the first editors of Hasidic literature, Rabbi Shlomo of Luts’k, a disciple of the Rebbe Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mezritch, was active in Luts’k. Yoel Halperin, known as Yoel the Great or Yoel Baal Shem, is counted among the distinguished rabbis of Luts’k during this time. During the second half of the 19th century, Hasids of Trisk, Sadigura, Karlin-Stolin and others were present in the city, and 12 synagogues were operating. Among famous Karaites, Avraham Samuel Firkovich can be mentioned. In 1886, 83 Karaites lived in Luts’k. A year later, the Jewish population had reached 9,468 (60% of the total population). The year 1912 witnessed the peak of the Jewish population, with 24,398 individuals counted. Diverse educational institutions were functioning during the interwar years, including specialised schools for both men and women. In response to a pogrom in the post-WWI years, Jews formed groups for self-defence. Jews were economically and commercially dominant in the city, both before and after WWI: they owned factories and plants, all four of the city’s printing-houses, and had around 120 trading places and shops. During the interwar period Zionist organisations, such as Bund and Agudas Israel, were active in the city. At that time, Luts’k housed 50 synagogues. In 1937, 62 (0.21% of the total population) Karaites lived in Luts’k. In 1939, the Jewish population numbered about 19,000 (47% of the total population). When the Nazis arrived in the city on June 25, 1941, they murdered 5,000 Jews. In December 1941, 15,000 Jews were imprisoned in the city’s ghetto. In spring 1942, an escape was staged, but only a small number of escapees were able to join the partisan units under Kovpak. The ghetto was finally liquidated on September 3, 1942, resulting in the death of 25,000 Jews. In 1979, 700 Jews and 8 Karaites were residing in Luts’k. In 1991, a new Jewish community was created.