History of the city:
Bobruysk is an ancient and beautiful city in Belarus. Its history spans many centuries. It is situated on the banks of Berezina river. Its smaller inflow Bobruyka gave name to the city.
History of the Jewish community:
The Jewish community of Bobruysk is mentioned in city's chronicles from the 16th century at least. Jews of Bobruysk were known as customs holders, and yet they were granted the right to collect taxes. According to 1776 statistics, there were 390 Jews in the city at the moment.
Jewish population of Bobruysk increased significantly when the city became part of the Russian Empire. While there were only circa 500 Jews in the city in 1808, the number already rose to 8,860 by 1861. Moreover, according to 1897 population census, out of 34.000 of city's population, 20,600 was Jewish. That composed about 60% of overall population.
The community prospered in the end of the 19th – beginning of the 20th century. Jews of Bobruysk were manufacturing clothes, selling wood and agriculture products.
19th century was also an important period for Jewish cultural life. Bobruysk had plenty of rabbis, who were well-known not only inside the Russian Empire, so were they outside its borders. Those include M. Ettinger, Shmaria Noach Schneerson, Hillel of Parich and Rafael Shapiro, who was the head of Volozhin's yeshivah.
Well-known publishing house of Y. K. Ginzburg was active until 1928. Its books were known not only within the country as well.
There were 42 active synagogues in Bobruysk as of 1917.
Bobruysk was captured in the very wake of Nazis attacks of WWII. The city was occupied on June 28, 1941 already. Two ghettos have been established, with 20,000 Jews imprisoned there. 3,500 of them were executed in July, while an astonishing number of 20.000 people was executed within two days, 6-7th of September. Some of the Jews managed to escape the ghetto and join the partisan battalions.
As the war ended, Jews began returning to Bobruysk. So, by 1970 there were nearly 60,000 Jews in the city, although none of beforementioned 42 synagogues survived the war.
• B. Katzenelson – Zionist pioneer, politician and journalist.
• Kadish Luz – Israeli politician, speaker of Knesset (1959-1969)
Places of interest:
• Thanks to M. Selinger, remains of the ghetto victims were relocated to a place where a memory sign has been erected. With the help of Maria Mintz, who managed to escape from the ghetto twice, an obelisk to honor the fallen was established in the 1980s.
• In 1992 another remembrance stone was placed by the community.
• In 2005 the Valley of the Righteous has been opened in the center of the city.
• There is a monument to ghetto victims established in 2008.
• There is a Jewish cemetery, where the remains of the city's Jews, as well as Holocaust victims from near settlements are buried.
Jewish community nowadays:
In the 80s most of Bobruysk Jews have emigrated to other countries, including USA, Canada and Israel among others. However, in 1988 already there were two synagogues, the "Gesher" Jewish newspaper and a "Jewish Culture Club" founded. There is a charity organization as well.
As for today, Jews of Bobruysk continue to revive the rich legacy and heritage of the community.