KONOTOP Jews Past and Present


Voronezh. Konotop was one of the main stations in this railway line. The economical relations with Eastern Prussia were conducted from that place from the west. Also, there were relations with the central regions of Russia in the north and with the southern regions of Russia. There were a lot of fairs and markets. Gogol wrote about such fairs in Konotop in his novel “The Lost Deed.” Jews played a main role in the trade life of Konotop. There were several Jewish firms. Among them the biggest firm was organized by the merchant of the second guild (whose name was German), who exported bran and other agricultural products (residue of sunflower oil and seeds) to Germany. The biggest textile shops belonged to Novik and Cherkinsky shoe stores- Ainbinder and Feldman. Numerous food shops belonged to Rubin, Klichin, Nosovicky, Meskhin, and by other Jews. The majority were small shops and the owners of which barely made ends meet. Chemists3 were organized by Logun, Bernstein, and Sheinikin.

Factories, mills, oil producing, and grain production belonged to Alotin, Kozlovsky, Narinsky, and others. They processed grain, oil, seeds, and other raw materials, according to the orders of natural payments for their services. A lot of small trade agents were occupied in buying in villages the agricultural and food products for merchant-exporters and processing factories. The famous historian, Y. Poletika, wrote about the life of the Jewish community in his memoirs, “The Seeing and the Emotional Experiences.” At the beginning of the 20th century, the population of the city was fifteen thousand people. Ukrainian merchants formed the largest part of its population, a few members were among the Russian officials, and forty workers worked in the railway workshops.

There was a big Jewish community in Konotop, nearly two or three thousand people lived there. That community lived separately from others. The greater part of the community was formed by the owners of the small shops, doctors, craftsmen, workers, merchant’s employees (salesmen, shop assistants and shopmen), and poor people, who often didn’t know how to feed their families.


3 Pharmacists.


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