Nizhyn Jewish Cemetery
The exact period of the cemetery’s establishment is unknown. Given the oldest tombstone dates to the early 19th century it can be inferred the cemetery was founded in that era. It first appears on Russian maps of the region from the 1870s.
Evidence suggests Jews first appeared in Nizhyn around the 17th century. Because of The Ruin, Nizhyn’s Jewish population was reestablished only in the late 18th century. Jews in Nizhyn were permitted to work only in the transportation of agricultural products. In 1798, of the 358 merchants in the city, only 3 were Jews. However, by 1897, of the 481 merchants there were 303 Jews. The Hasidic Tzadik Dov Ber of Lubavich, the son of Shneur Zalman of Lyady, died and was buried in Nizhyn in 1827. Nizhyn became one of the centres of Habad Hasidism in Ukraine. According to the census of 1847, the town was home to 1,299 Jews. A Jewish college operated from 1854 to 1877. The college had two classes with about 20 children in each. In 1865, the rabbi was Moisey Ettingen. In March 1893, I.L. B. Libman’s men’s private college was opened in Nizhyn. The Jewish community grew exponentially. According to the 1897 census, the town was home to 7,631 Jews (23.8% of the population). In 1907, Doctor P.A. Bushtedt opened his own private medical and obstetric school in Nizhyn. According to data from 1910, one private Jewish college and three women’s colleges were operating in Nizhyn. The majority of the students were Jewish. In 1911, there was one Talmud-Torah 405 students in the Nizhyn district, as well as 22 cheders. In 1910, there were 8 synagogues and a Jewish cemetery. The Jewish community withstood pogroms in 1881, 1905, and 1919. Approximately 200 Jews were killed by soldiers from Denikin’s volunteer army on Septemer 2, 1919. Rabbi Shlomo Menachem Hein (1880-1919) was among the victims. In Nizhyn, ten synagogues were in use in 1917. In the early 1920s, 200 shops of the 623 in the town belonged to Jews. However, within ten years the Jewish population was halved, with 9,901 Jews in 1910 and only 4,987 in 1920. From 1920-1930 there was a Yiddish-language school, a Jewish club, and a theatre (which operated from 1926-1927). The Jewish population had dropped again to 2,725 by 1939 (7% of the total). The Germans occupied the town on September 13, 1941. Most of the Jews were able to evacuate. 322 Jews were registered between September and October, 1941 (men between the ages of 16 and 60 made up only 14% of this number). Precise numbers of the Jews killed during the Holocaust here are still unavailalbe. However, only 16 Jews survived. Nizhyn was liberated on September 14, 1943. After the war, the Jewish community was renewed. In total, there were about 30 members. The rabbi was Yda-Izka Boryhovich Reznikov. According to the 2001 census, 137 Jews lived in the town. As of 2019, the total population numbered 73,283. The town was home to such famous Jewish figures as: Soviet actor and singer Mark Naumovich Bernes (whose real name was Menakhem-Man Neukh-Shmuylov Neumann), who was born in Nizhyn in 1911; Yiddish-language poet Mani Leib (born Mani Leib Brahinsky), who was born in Nizhyn in 1883; and Boris Aronson, American theatre artist, painter, sculptor. The exact period of the cemetery’s establishment is unknown. Given the oldest tombstone dates to the early 19th century, it can be inferred the cemetery was founded in that era. It first appears on Russian maps of the region from the 1870s.