Sharhorod Oldest Jewish Cemetery
According to the IAJGS, the cemetery was established between 1590 and 1648. It can be found marked on a map of the Western Russian Empire from the 1900s.
Sharhorod was founded in 1579. It was established as a city under Magdeburg law in 1588. A year later, in 1589, a Great synagogue was built. In the 17th century, due to its location along wine and cattle trading routes, Sharhorod emerged as one of the largest towns in Podolia. The Turks occupied Sharhorod between 1672 and 1699, when the town was called Küçük-Istanbul (“Little Istanbul”). During that time the synagogue was converted into a mosque. In 1734, a pogrom claimed a great number of victims. In the early 18th century the Jewish community reappeared and expanded anew. In 1765, the Jewish community of Sharhorod numbered 2219 that made it the largest in Podolia at the time.
In 1793, after the Second partition of Poland, it came under the control of the Russian Empire, and became a part of the Podolia Governorate (Podolskaya Gubernia).
In 1847, there were 3670 Jewish residents and in 1897, Jews comprised around three quarters of the population or 3987 of 5529. Jews were engaged mostly in crafting and commerce. In the 1820s-30s all three merchants (belonging to different guilds) in Sharhorod were Jews. At the turn of the 19th century Jews owned shops, wood stores, a printing house as well as inns. In the late 1880s there were 6 synagogues and by the beginning of the 20th century there were 9. In the 1910s there was a private Jewish school for boys and a mixed Jewish school.
The Jewish population of Sharhorod suffered greatly during World War I and the civil war in Russia. In 1919, a pogrom in Sharhorod claimed around 100 victims.
After 1922, Sharhorod became a part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic within the USSR. In the mid 1920s a Jewish kolkhoz and a Yiddish school were established in Sharhorod. In 1923, there were 1918 Jewish residents; in 1926, 2697 Jews (>60%) and in 1939, 1664 Jews (74%). Nonetheless all of Sharhorod’s synagogues were closed and rededicated.
In 1941, many Jews fled to the East but some remained behind. Sharhorod was occupied by the Germans and Romanians on July 22, 1941, and included in the Transnistria Governorate. A ghetto was established and by December 1941 around 7000 Jews were kept there, including deportees from Bessarabia, Bucovina and Regat along with the local Jews. The ghetto had its own bakeries, pharmacy, hospital and orphanage. In winter 1941-42 around 1400 people perished of disease, cold and starvation. The majority of the remaining Jews at this point would survive the war. In the late 1940 more than 1000 Jews lived in Sharhorod. In 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Sharhorod became a part of the independent Ukraine. In the 1990s Sharhorod still had a Jewish population of around 700.
The oldest cemetery of Sharhorod was established around the first half of the 17th century and is placed in the very center of the town today. Only around 20 visible matzevot remain, these are dated back to between the 18th and early 19th centuries.