Jews in Mazyr, Belarus
Mazyr is the center of the eponymous district of the Gomel region of Belarus. It was first mentioned in written sources from the XII century.
The Belarusian legend deduces the name of the city from the name of the Jew Mazyr. According to legend, he was a merchant and was traveling with goods to Kiev. He stopped on the banks of the Pripyat to rest. His daughter drowned in the river. Mazyr remained on the shore and founded a settlement.
The presence of Jews in the city has been known since the 17th century. The community suffered in 1648 from the Khmelnitsky Cossacks. After the division of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Mazyr became the center of the district in the Minsk province of the Russian Empire. A Jewish school operated in the 1870s. Two of the city council members were Jews.
By the end of the 19th century, the Jewish population of the city numbered 5.6 thousand people, or 69.8% of the population. Jewish political parties and Zionist organizations operated in the city. During the 1905 revolution, the Bund's militant organizations prevented a Jewish pogrom.
By 1913, Mazyr had eight synagogues, a men's school, the Talmud-Torah and a yeshiva, two savings and loan societies, and three libraries. There were two Jewish cemeteries. The Jews owned all eight hotels in the city, two taverns, three drugstores, a pastry shop, and a sawmill.
In 1919, the Jewish community suffered from pogroms by Poles and White Guards.
The Soviet government had to fight for influence on local Jews with national Jewish parties and Zionist organizations that operated in the city until the mid-1920s. To weaken their influence, the Soviet government created sports clubs, literary and drama circles. In 1922, a Jewish cultural conference was held in the city.
In the 1930s, the Soviet government launched an offensive against the traditional foundations of the life of the Mazyr Jews. All city synagogues were closed. In 1939, one of the last Jewish schools in Eastern Belarus was liquidated.
According to 1939 data, 39% of the residents of Mazyr were Jews.
The city was occupied in August 1941. The Nazis carried out registration, registering mumars and half-breeds as Jews. A closed ghetto was created in the city. At the end of August 1941, several dozen local Jews gathered in the house and set themselves on fire. From September 1941, the Nazis began extermination aktions that lasted until February 1942.
In 1945, the authorities returned the dilapidated synagogue building to the Jews who returned to Mazyr, but the community abandoned it. In 1948 the community was deregistered.
A local synagogue was opened in 1989. A year later, a religious community was registered. In the early 2000s, 1.5 thousand Jews lived in the city.