History of the city:
History of Baranovichi as a city is largely connected to the railway station of the same name. The station was founded on November 4, 1871 as a part of Smolensk – Brest-Litovsk railway route. Four years after it has already become a full-fledged rail junction that made the connection between Moscow and the western parts of Russian Empire possible. Accelerating development of the city's infrastructure meant a massive inflow of workers, so within few years the station became a town. At the beginning of the 20th century its population was nearly 30.000 people. Big amount of local industry facilities was under the city's authorities.
As well as the city's industrial life, its religious side developed within the years too. There were four churches, one catholic chapel and ten synagogues.
Modern Baranovichi is a relatively big city (population of 178 000 in the year 2003). The city fulfills plenty of cultural, industrial and educational functions. There are several Christian communities, so is one Jewish. The latter has a tragic history.
The Jewish community of Baranovichi
Although the official point told that until 1903 it was forbidden for Jews to live in Baranovichi, the statistics say that there were 2000 Jews living in the city in 1897 already. During The First World War most of them had to leave the city. Despite of political instability for years, the Jewish community continued its routine of trading, charity and craftsmanship. There were several yeshivas open, so were heders and the "Tarbut" school with Hebrew-language educating system. There were six Yiddish-language newspapers as well. Apart from this, Baranovichi had several educational facilities that were sponsored by Orthodox Jewish and Zionist organisations. So the city became one of main Jewish settlements in its region.
Logically, the Jewish population was experiencing pressure of the local authorities at the period. But the life of the community stopped with the Nazi occupation. Moreover, more than 12.000 Jews were executed by Nazis in the local ghetto, that was known under the name of "Sakhalin", identically to the name of the city quarter it was situated in.
Ghetto inhabitants faced famine, diseases and cram.
After the war most of remaining Jewish community emigrated to other countries. Low number of Jews decided to remain in the city. The community itself didn't get much of attention. It was poor and didn't have any of buildings or facilities.
Main sites of interest:
• Jewish gravesite with some of gravestones that survived the WWII (Turevsky, Kuntzevitsky, Vinograd families)
• "Gai" memorial site, dedicated to victims of the Holocaust.
• The residence of Adam Mickiewicz, one of the greatest Polish poets
Among the residents of the city:
• Isaac Maloshitzky - Soviet army figure
• Jenia Tversky – Member of Knesset (Israeli parliament) and pedagogue
• Nachum Neyman – scientist and human rights activist
The revival of Jewish community nowadays:
Thanks to efforts of local Jewish activists there are two Jewish communities. One of them is of Orthodox Jewish ideology, while the second is about the ideas of progressive Judaism. There is an active synagogue located at Svoboda street. There is also a cultural center named "Shalom" that fulfills educational and religious functions.