Tovste Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

Country
Ukraine
Region
Ternopyl
District
Zalishchyky
Settlement
Tovste
Site address
To reach the cemetery, procced for about 450 metres in the eastern direction from the central intersection of the village. The cemetery is located on the left of the road adjacent to the Christian cemetery.
GPS coordinates
48.84931, 25.73254
Perimeter length
510 metres
Is the cemetery demolished
no
Type and height of existing fence
The cemetery has a fence installed in October 2019 by ESJF.
Preservation condition
Fenced and protected Jewish cemetery
General site condition
The cemetery is well-maintained by the local municipal service. The fence is in excellent condition.
Number of existing gravestones
500
Date of oldest tombstone
1840 (oldest found by ESJF expedition)
Date of newest tombstone
1941 (latest found by ESJF expedition)
Urgency of erecting a fence
Fence is not needed
Land ownership
Property of local community
Preserved construction on site
There is an ohel with a tsiyun of Sarah, mother of Baal Shem Tov (died in 1751), installed by the Ohalei Tzadikim — Gader Avot union on the site. There is also a monument to the Ukrainian Insurgent Army opposite to a mass murder memorial on the site.
Drone surveys
No

Historical overview

The exact period of the cemetery’s establishment is unknown. It appears on cadastral maps of 1826, 1858 and 1899. It can be assumed that the cemetery already existed in the middle of the 18th century. The grave of Baal Shem Tov’s mother, Sarah, is located on the Jewish cemetery of Tovste.

Jews were present there in the late 17th century. The leader and a founder of Hasidism, Baal Sham Tov, resided here in 1730-1740. By the same time, a Beit-Midrash, a bathhouse and a mikvah operated. The Jews were worked in agricultural, and grain trade in the 17th-18th centuries. Chortkiv, Vizhnitz and Kopichinitz Hasidic dynasties had followers in Tovste from the late 19th century. The Jewish population was 2,157 (67,4% of the total population) in 1880. The Jewish population dropped to 1,196 in 1921. The Jewish community of Tovste suffered an economic decline during WWI, and later in the 1930s. The anti-semitism upsurged during this time as well. In the interwar period, the Zionist movement was active in Tovste. In 1931, 1,800 Jews resided here, and this figure increased to 3,000 by 1941. On November 11, 1941, 150 Jews were sent to the Kamenka labour camp. In April 1942, the Wehrmacht troops imposed 400 women to forced labour in a rubber plant farms. In late August and early October, 1,200 Jews were deported to the Belzec death camp, 120 people were murdered on the spot. A ghetto with several thousand prisoners existed from December 1942 till June 6, 1943. A monument was erected at the Jewish cemetery of Tovste after WWII.

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