Nadvirna Jewish Cemetery
The exact time of the appearance of the Jews in Nadvirna is unknown. According to the memorial book of Nadvirna, before WWII the tombstones from the period of the Khmelnitsky uprising (1648-49) were still preserved in the Jewish cemetery, which may indicate a Jewish presence in the middle of the 17th century.
Jewish population began to grow in the late 17th century. In 1757, a Jew from Nadvirna, Leib Krisa, participated in the famous Judeo-Christian dispute of the year in Kamenets-Podilsky with accusations against Jews. In the middle of the 18th century, a large independent community already existed in Nadvirna, which numbered 1.002 Jews in 1765. The oldest preserved
tombstone in the Jewish cemetery dates to 1762. In 1765, the rabbi of Otynia, Aaron bin Avigdor, included Nadvirna in his sphere of activity.
From the second half of the 18th century until the mid-20th century, Nadvirna was a significant Hasidic center. Around the 1780s Rabbi Zvi-Hirsch (later known as Zvi Hirsch from Nadvirna), a student of Maggid of Mezhirich, moved to Nadvirna. A prolific author («Tzemah Hashem le-Tzvi» and others), he was a preacher in Nadvirna until his death in 1802. He
significantly influenced the spread of Hasidism in Galicia.
In the 20-30s of the 19th century Issachar Dov Ber Leifer (died in 1848), founder of the Hasidic Nadvorna dynasty, moved to Nadvirna. The flourishing of the court of Nadvirna is associated with the activity of his son, Mordekhai of Nadvirna (1824-1894), an outstanding Hasidic leader, author of “Maamar Mordekhai”. After the departure of Mordekhai Leifer to Kivishod, and later to Khust and Bushtyno, his brother, Aaron Leib (1819–1897), and his sons Moshe and Yosef Leiffer continued to lead the courtyard in Nadvirna. According to «Pinkasei Kehilot», Haim Leifer of Stanislav leaded the courtyard in the Nadvirna before WWII. In late 19th – early 20th cent. the Nadvorna dynasty had a huge influence on Galicia, Romania and Hungary; more than 20 Hasidic dynasties came from their descendants; in the modern world, more than a hundred Grand Rabbis are descendants of Mordekhai from Nadvirna, active from Cleveland to Caracas and Cuba.
From the end of the 18th century, Nadvirna was also the center of Haskala. In 1785, the Austrian authorities attempted to open a Jewish school of European type in Nadvirna under the leadership of the pioneer of Jewish education Hertz Gomberg, but the project failed. Maskilic circles existed in Nadvirna during 19th century. A native of the educated Harz family, Benjamin
Yitzhak Harz (1878-1942) emigrated to Berlin and in 1920s founded there a publishing house «Benjamin Harz Verlag», which played an important role in spreading Jewish knowledge among German Jews – dictionaries, Jewish literature in Hebrew and Yiddish, etc.
In 1880, the Jewish community of Nadvirna reached its peak – 4.182 Jews (64% of the total population).
At the beginning of the 20th century, Jewish public life flourished in Nadvirna. In the 1890s, branches of Zionist organizations and youth circles appeared, Jewish schools functioned. During this period, more than 20 synagogues were operating in the city, including the prayer houses of Kosov, Vizhnitz, Otiniya, Belz and Chortkiv Hasidim. Since 1901, Nakhum Burshtein was a rabbi in Nadvirna; he left the community during the First World War, and since then there was no rabbi in the community – it was led by judges (dayanim). By 1910, the Jewish population fell to 3,772 (46%); as a result of the events of the First World War, it reduced to 2,042 (33%). In 1939, 3,800 Jews (33%) lived in Nadvirna.
With the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, many Jewish refugees from Western Poland arrived in Nadvirna. Under the USSR rule, the activities of Jewish religious organizations were discontinued and synagogues were closed.
In January 1941, Hungarian troops entered Nadvirna, and in June 1941 the city was transferred to German jurisdiction. In mid-June 1941 Jews in Nadvirna amounted to 4,500 (including refugees). In September 1941, about a thousand Jews of Transcarpathia who did not have Hungarian citizenship were deported to Nadvirna. In October 1941, about 3,000 Jews were
shot at Bukovinka site. In April (according to other sources, in June) 1942, the remaining Jews were gathered in two ghettos, “A” and “B”, together with Jews from neighboring villages, where many died of hunger and epidemics. In the fall (according to other sources, in December) of 1942, all the residents of the ghetto were transferred to the ghetto of Stanislavov (Ivano-Frankivsk) and executed there. The total death toll is about 3500 Jewish residents of Nadvirna and about 2500 Jews of the surrounding villages.
The reliable sources evidence the existance of Jewish cemetery of Nadvorna from mid-18th century (However, memoirs on pre-war period mention the oldest gravestones from mid-17 century, which can be doubtful). According to Nadvirna memorial book, the cemetery contained an old and a new part. There were two ohalim made of stone before WWII – that of Mordekhai of Nadvorna and his family, and that of his brother Aharon Leib. The cemetery was cataloguised by Jewish Galicia and Bukovina Project in 2010. 248 tombstones were included into this catalogue, dating from 1762 to 2010. The recent clearing revealed some more tombstones, so the number of preserved tombstones is close to 400.
The site is maintained annually by the ESJF supported by the Nadworna Shtetl Research Group.