Jewish cemetery in Pugachyov, Saratov region, Russia
Pugachyov is the administrative center of the eponymous district of the Saratov region. Founded in 1764. Until 1918, it was called Nikolayevsk. It received the status of a city in 1835.
Nikolayevsk was not part of the Pale of Settlement. Jews appeared in the city in the second half of the 19th century. At the same time, on the north-eastern outskirts of the city, in the area of the Tatar settlement, a Jewish cemetery was laid. Located on Planernaya street. The territory is a rectangle with an area of 480 square meters. Fenced with a wire mesh fence installed by the local authorities.
According to the 1897 census, there were 114 Jews in Nikolayevsk, most of whom called Yiddish their native language. During the First and Second World Wars, the Jewish population of the city increased at the expense of the evacuees. In 1920, 154 Jews lived in Pugachyov.
In the second half of the twentieth century, the Jewish population of Pugachyov decreased. According to local residents, the last time Jews came to visit the graves of their relatives was in the early 1990s. By the beginning of the 21st century, there were no Jews left in Pugachyov. The cemetery fell into disrepair. Some of the matzevahs were used by the residents of the surrounding area for economic purposes.
In October 2016, a scientific expedition studied the cemetery. Researchers have found 14 surviving gravestones, of which five are unreadable. The earliest tombstone is dated 1885, later - 1949.
Most matzevahs are vertical slabs made of concrete and sandstone. The surviving epitaphs are written in Russian and Hebrew. The Russian part of the information on the matzevah is auxiliary, representing the name and date of life of the deceased. The epitaphs follow the traditional formula used in Jewish tombstones in Eastern Europe:
• The name of the deceased.
• Date of death according to the Hebrew calendar.
• Final formula.
In a number of surviving epitaphs, lines are rhymed.
The following are of interest:
- The grave of Anna Zelikh, which contains information about the origin of her father from the Volyn city of Slutsk, is the only evidence of migration.
- The grave of Vasiliy Chirkov (born 1906). Judging by the epitaph, written in Cyrillic with the use of semi-uncial, the deceased was not a Jew. Researchers have put forward a version that either the deceased belonged to assimilated Jews, or the tombstone was reused to create a tombstone for a Jew.