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Jews in Pinsk

The Jewish community in the city dates back to 1506. Those families who left Lithuania in 1495 settled here. They had their own synagogue and cemetery. In 1560, 275 Jews lived here, in 1648 there were already about 1,000.

The Jews were tenants, collected duties, taxes, traded wholesale grain, timber, and were engaged in handicraft production. After the capture of the city by the detachments of B. Khmelnytskyi in 1648, many Jews died, others converted to Christianity, but later they abandoned it. The population suffered during the Russian-Polish wars of the 17th century, many inhabitants were killed.

The community was in a distressed situation, its members became impoverished, so the rulers of Poland, instead of taxes, obliged the Jews to perform a regular service. Previously, these privileges were confirmed, Jews could be artisans, without becoming members of the workshops, freely engage in trade. At the beginning of the 18th century, a new trouble came in the form of the Swedish occupation during the campaign of the troops of Charles XII.

The situation of the community gradually worsened, it became a debtor of the Polish nobles and the church. The data of 1766 show that its annual income was 37,000 zlotys, and the debt of the community had already reached 309,000. At the same time, the communities of those cities that were subordinate to Pinsk left the obedience of the qahal of the city.

In the 2nd half of the 18th century, there was a confrontation between the Misnagdim and the Jews, who were supporters of Hasidism. In the suburb of Karlin there was the residence of the Hasidic tzadiks. The city became a famous center of Hasidism.

In the middle of the 19th century, the community had 5,050 inhabitants. At the end of the century, it grew a lot. In 1896, 21,819 Jews lived here, in 1914 - 28063. This was about ¾ of the entire population of the city.

Jews occupied a leading position in trade and industrial development. The most famous were the Lurie and Levin families, who traded timber and food. In the 60s of the 19th century, up to 950 Jewish artisans worked in the city. In 1914, Jews owned 49 out of 54 businesses.

The Hovevei Zion center, the Zionists, the Bund were active.

There were Jewish schools: for men, where they taught in Hebrew, for girls, a school where they taught crafts. The Hovevei Zion created cheders.

In 1914-1918. many have left the city. In 1919, Pinsk fell under the rule of Poland, which brought disaster to the Jewish population. The Poles executed 35 members of the community on trumped-up charges.

The city was part of Poland until 1939. Then 20,200 Jews lived here. Various parties operated among them, the Zionists were especially popular. Education was actively developing, which was carried out by representatives of the Poale Zion and Tarbut movements. Jewish newspapers were published.

With the advent of Soviet power, the situation changed dramatically - all Jewish institutions were closed, party members were arrested. Many were sent to the North of the USSR and to Kazakhstan. Hebrew was abolished in schools, leaving only Yiddish.

After the war, most of the Jews who returned to the city after it was liberated from the Nazis left for the USA, Israel, and European countries.