KONOTOP Jews Past and Present



The other part was killed. After the victory only a small segment of the Jews came back to their native town. The community fell to pieces. One of the three synagogues was occupied by town archives [a collection of records and documents]. Two others were given to the tailoring factories. A small group of Jews tried officially to organize the prayer house, but the local power forbade it. Then they gathered a sum of money and bought the house in the name of one of the active members and they began to gather together on Saturdays. However the fictitious owner decided himself to take advantage of his status and embezzled the house. The case was given to the local court. The Court decided that the house was without an owner and it was decided to confiscate the house. The surname of the man was consciously not recorded. That was the tragic end of the most powerful, numerous, and well organized Jewish community [of Konotop]. Filing a suit didn’t have the expected outcome. Furthermore, sometimes the events were developing by inertia. During this past long period of time, there were now changes in the life of the Jewish community. There were still religious old men, who gathered together in apartments for Sabbath prayer, the last of which took place in the home of Ziama Feldman's house in 1982. The last sheikhed18 was Shapirkin Gilia, who had the special religious education. He died in 1976. The last britmilla19 was made by Shapirkin in 1952. Hupa20 also was in that year. The last funeral with old Jewish traditions was in 1965.

Only in the environment of democratic Ukraine after independence, Jews got the possibility of reviving their former traditions and language.21 In August 1990, the first Jewish family was able to move to Israel. In December 1991, an American genealogist, Miriam Weiner, visited our town. The result of that meeting was obtaining a census of the Jewish population. On 23rd of October 1993, there was a meeting, where the society “Lebn” was created. In 1994, during the holiday when people celebrated Pesakh,22 the members of the Community got matzos.


18 The Russian or Ukrainian word for shochet, the person, who follows the rules of

kashrut and performs the kosher slaughter of animals and fowl.

19 The Russian or Ukrainian word for Jewish ritual circumcision.

20 Marriage performed under the chupa or religious canope.

21 Yiddish.

22 Pesach — Passover.


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