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Jewish Chechersk

Chechersk is the district center of the Gomel region of Belarus, known since the 12th century. According to 2009 data, four Jews lived in it, which amounted to 0.05% of the townspeople.

Jews settled in Chechersk between 1569 and 1667 - a period when Jewish settlements appeared in large numbers on the territory of Belarus.

In "Inventory" of 1763, there is a plan of Chechersk. It indicates that along one of the main streets that ran from Zamkovaya to Velikaya Brama, 11 Christian and 5 Jewish houses are located. A Jewish school with a land plot is also indicated. The same school is mentioned in the “Historical information about the remarkable places in Belarus” (1855).

In 1744, Zakhary Chernyshev became the owner of the city. Documentary evidence has survived, according to which he invited Jews to settle in the territory near the Chechora River.

Chernyshev was the first in the empire to receive the right of a majorat to Chechersk. The city was to depart to his eldest son. However, Chernyshev had no children. As a result, the city went to Chernyshev's sister, Sophia. Her husband Ivan Kruglikov became Count Chernyshev-Kruglikov.

By the 1860s, the Jewish population of the city increased. Jews accounted for 62.4% of the 1.3 thousand population of Chеchersk. In the book of memoirs by A. Krasnov-Levitin "Dashing Years, 1925-1941" there is information about the conflict between the Jews of Chеchersk and one of the descendants of Chernyshev-Kruglikov. Allegedly, he was mentally unstable and in a drunken madness busted Jewish shops. At his hands in 1861 died Menachem Mendel Lifshits, the great-grandfather of Krasnov-Levitin, who was known as a city holy fool and expert on Hasidic wisdom. Relatives of the count paid a pension to the children of the deceased until they came of age.

In 1800, a synagogue was built in Chechersk. Today it is the only building reminiscent of the Jews of the city. It is located along Proletarskaya Street, 27 and serves as the house of worship of evangelical Christian Baptists.

In 1926, 1.3 thousand Jews lived in the city. It is known that in the years 1927-1929, more than 200 Jewish young men and women left Chechersk. Researchers believe that Jewish youth traveled to major cities to study and work.

The writer Mikhail Kachan in his memoirs book “Luba-Love” talks about a trip to Chechersk in 1938 with a friend Berta and her fiancé. According to Kachan’s recollections, kosher meat could be bought in the city, and his girlfriend’s father spoke Yiddish, prayed, and observed all rituals. This may be indirect evidence that Jewish life was preserved in the city.

According to 1939, more than 970 Jews lived in the city. By the time the city was occupied in August 1941, about 200 Jews remained in Chechersk. The ghetto in the city existed from September to December 1941. Together with the Jews, gypsies were shot. The total number of victims exceeded 400 people.