Medzhybizh Old Jewish Cemetery
The exact period of the cemetery’s foundation is unknown, but it can be inferred from the dates on the preserved tombstones that it already existed in the mid 16th century. The cemetery was not marked on old maps. The first mention of Jews in the region dates to the early 16th century. In 1509, Lieberman, a Jew, was appointed collector of royal taxes by King Sigismund I (“the Old”). By 1511, an organised Jewish community existed. In 1566, the Jewish community had privileges, which freed them from the payment of taxes and duties. In 1570, there were 70 Jewish householders in the city and a Jewish cemetery was laid. The great synagogue was built in the 16th century. By the beginning of the 17th century, the community in Medzhybizh became one of the largest in Podolia. The Cossacks raids attacked the Jewish community of Medzhybizh during the Khmelnitsky massacre in 1650 and in the early 18th century. The Jewish community of the town was represented by the rank of illustrious rabbins throughout the whole period of its existence. Baal-Shem-Tov, the founder of the first Hasidic community, resided here in 1740-60. His grave is a popular place of the pilgrimage in the Hasidic circles until today. In 1765, 2,039 Jews were inhabitants of Medzhybizh. Jews made a living by tailoring, shoemaking, blacksmithing, turning, locksmithing, weaving, jewelry, bookbinding etc. in the 18th – early 20th century. Doctors and pharmacist, musicians and carters were among the members of the local Jewish community as well. In the second half of the 19th – early 20th century, pogroms were staged. By 1897, the Jewish population had reached nearly 6,040 people (73% of the total). In 1900, the Zionist movement became active in the region. By the same time, a Jewish hospital was established. In 1914, a Jewish community maintained nine synagogues. There were three hotels, two bookstores, three pharmacies, and four lumber yards in the hands of the local Jews. The Jews of Medzhybizh went to war for the Russian Empire during WWI. David Wolfowich Bots was awarded the St. George medal and the St. George crosses of the 4th and 3rd degrees. In October 1917, a pogrom was staged. The pogrom in 1919, arranged by the Directory, claimed the lives of all the Jews remaining in the city. The Jewish population dropped to 3,553 in 1923. In 1921, “Ge-Halutz” assisted the Jewish youth to migrate to Palestine. In the interwar period, six heders and a Yiddish school operated. In the late 1920s, most of the synagogues were closed. In 1929, a Jewish kolkhoz was organized. In 1939, 2,347 Jews (51,64% of the total population) resided here. Bikur holim and hevra kadisha continued to operate semi-legally. On July 8, 1941, the Wehrmacht occupied the city. 1,000 prisoners in the ghetto, created in autumn 1941, were executed on September 22, 1942. Many of the Jews in Medzhybizh died of hunger and typhoid in winter of 1941–42. Several Jews were saved by the Ukrainian peasants. In 1950, the Great synagogue was ruined. In 1967, a monument was erected in the place of the execution of Jews. In 1988, five Jews remained.