+ 972 2 996 7027 Call me
Eng

Brest

Brest (or Brisk – its historical Jewish name) is mentioned in the Primary Chronicle – written history of Kievan Rus' from about 850 to 1110, considered to be a fundamental source in the history of Eastern Slavs. That fact declares Brest as one of the oldest cities in Belarus. Its geographical situation caused multiple change of state affiliation. The history of Brest's Jewish community takes an important place in the history of the city itself.


History of the Jewish community:
In the beginning of the 12th century Jews, persecuted by the Germans, were allowed to settle in the lands of Wladzislaw I, then king of Poland. Brest was situated within those territories. Jewish settlers, accustomed to German pronouncing, called the city Brisk.
Local aldermans quickly learned to use the ability of Jews to succeed in craftsmanship and trading to improve the city's infrastructures and its trading and economical relations. Local population was preconceived about the Jewish "newcomers". Despite that, Jews of the city could pray in synagogues and live an active social and religious lifestyle within centuries. There were 3.175 Jews in the community as of 1766. Rabbis and teachers of that-period yeshivas were known as authors of Talmud comments, law resolutions and different religious comments as well.
The synagogue and Jewish cemetery were destroyed during the Brest fortress construction in 1832. The Big Choral Synagogue was built 29 years after, there were yeshivas and heders functioning legally.
Unfortunately, 1905 was overshadowed by multiple pogroms.
Between two wars, Jews of the city have built several synagogues, educational centres, teaching both in Hebrew and Yiddish. The Wartburg colony – 12 wooden buildings – was built in 1925.
The Jewish community ceased to exist under Nazi occupation during the WWII. Jews were persecuted and placed into a ghetto. Nearly 34.000 of them were executed


Places of interest:
• The Brest Fortress – worldwide famous fortress that was one of significant battlefields in WWII, although founded back in 19th century. There are several Jewish tombstones at the northern gate of the fortress that remained from the period of Jewish cemetery that was situated nearby
• The "Jews of Brest" museum that tells the history of the community through the years. There are three museum halls for three different periods. Pink is for pre-war history, grey hall tells the story of the community during the Holocaust, while the last, light-green hall is about the history of modern community. The museum also contains a number of historical artifacts, including Torah scrolls and books from the 19th century
• Memorial stone to honour the 34.000 victims of the ghetto at Kuibyshev St.
Notable residents :
• Menachem Begin – Israeli politician, the Prime Minister of the state, the Nobel Prize laureate
• Louis Grunberg – American composer
• Jan Lebenstein – Polish painter
• Isser Yehuda Unterman – Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel (1964-72)
• Haim Soloveychik – the "Brisk Rabbi", founder of an original Talmud commenting way
• Isador Fried – American composer
• David Dubinsky – American labor union figure


The community nowadays:
There are several Jewish organisations active, including the "Brisk" center, and the Belarusian Jewish Union, as well as a branch of "Holocaust" – an international educational and research center. Two Jewish communities are developing as well. There are negotiations to rebuild some venues of the Wartburg colony.

 

BREST

 

Brest (or Brisk – its historical Jewish name) is mentioned in the Primary Chronicle – written history of Kievan Rus’ from about 850 to 1110, considered to be a fundamental source in the history of Eastern Slavs. That fact declares Brest as one of the oldest cities in Belarus. Its geographical situation caused multiple change of state affiliation. The history of Brest’s Jewish community takes an important place in the history of the city itself.

History of the Jewish community :

In the beginning of the 12th century Jews, persecuted by the Germans, were allowed to settle in the lands of Wladzislaw I, then king of Poland. Brest was situated within those territories. Jewish settlers, accustomed to German pronouncing, called the city Brisk.
Local aldermans quickly learned to use the ability of Jews to succeed in craftsmanship and trading to improve the city’s infrastructures and its trading and economical relations. Local population was preconceived about the Jewish “newcomers”. Despite that, Jews of the city could pray in synagogues and live an active social and religious lifestyle within centuries. There were 3.175 Jews in the community as of 1766. Rabbis and teachers of that-period yeshivas were known as authors of Talmud comments, law resolutions and different religious comments as well.

The synagogue and Jewish cemetery were destroyed during the Brest fortress construction in 1832. The Big Choral Synagogue was built 29 years after, there were yeshivas and heders functioning legally.
Unfortunately, 1905 was overshadowed by multiple pogroms.
Between two wars, Jews of the city have built several synagogues, educational centres, teaching both in Hebrew and Yiddish. The Wartburg colony – 12 wooden buildings – was built in 1925.

The Jewish community ceased to exist under Nazi occupation during the WWII. Jews were persecuted and placed into a ghetto. Nearly 34.000 of them were executed

Places of interest :

·         The Brest Fortress – worldwide famous fortress that was one of significant battlefields in WWII, although founded back in 19th century. There are several Jewish tombstones at the northern gate of the fortress that remained from the period of Jewish cemetery that was situated nearby

·         The “Jews of Brest” museum that tells the history of the community through the years. There are three museum halls for three different periods. Pink is for pre-war history, grey hall tells the story of the community during the Holocaust, while the last, light-green hall is about the history of modern community. The museum also contains a number of historical artifacts, including Torah scrolls and books from the 19th century

·         Memorial stone to honour the 34.000 victims of the ghetto at Kuibyshev St.

Notable residents :

·         Menachem Begin – Israeli politician, the Prime Minister of the state, the Nobel Prize laureate

·         Louis Grunberg – American composer

·         Jan Lebenstein – Polish painter

·         Isser Yehuda Unterman – Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel (1964-72)

·         Haim Soloveychik – the “Brisk Rabbi”, founder of an original Talmud commenting way

·         Isador Fried – American composer

·         David Dubinsky – American labor union figure

The community nowadays :

There are several Jewish organisations active, including the “Brisk” center, and the Belarusian Jewish Union, as well as a branch of “Holocaust” – an international educational and research center. Two Jewish communities are developing as well. There are negotiations to rebuild some venues of the Wartburg colony.