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Kobrin

Kobrin is a city in the Brest region of Belarus, situated 40 km from the regional center itself. It is situated on the Mukhavets river banks. First mention of Kobrin is dating back to 1287, when the settlement was included in the testament of Volyn duke Vladimir Vasilkovich.
First documented mention of the Jewish community can be found in 1514 documents, according to which, the king Sigizmund I approves the privileges of local Jews that were given a decade years earlier by his brother, Alexander Jagiellon.


History of the Jewish community:
As of 1623, the local Jewish population was part of Brest-Litovsk community, and exactly as in most of other Belarusian Jewish communities of the period, Jews of Kobrin worked at craftsmanship and trading. From the point of numbers, there were 924 Jews in the city and nearby villages in 1766, a figure that rose to 8,840 as for year 1847. In only 50 years there were 25,000 Jews in the whole Brest region, comprising more than 64% of the overall population. 7,000 of them lived in Kobrin.
After 1897, the social and material status of the community decreased, that made many Jews to leave the city and emigrate to other countries, including the USA.
In the 1920s Jews comprised nearly 65% of Kobrin's population. Their main occupations included tailoring, building and trading. The community had several synagogues, Talmud-Torah educational venues and heders as well. There was also an yeshiva and "Tarbut" program school.
During the WWII, the Nazis occupied Kobrin in the summer of 1941 already. There were two ghettos established. Jews in the ghettos had to apply yellow David stars on their clothes. The second ghetto, known as the "B" ghetto was executed in 1942, not a long time before the first "A" ghetto repeated its fate. Overall, just about 100 Jews managed to escape and join the partisan battalions in the forests. Two Polish catholic priests, Jan Wolski and Wladzislaw Grabelny were executed for their brave-hearted efforts to save Jews. There was an unsuccessful try of an uprising during the ghetto's execution.


Notable residents:
• Betzalel ben Shlomo – 17th century preacher
• Yacov ben David Shapira – founder of the Kobrin yeshiva
• H, Berlin – well-known religious activist of the community, the Halakha activist in the end of 19th century


Places of interest:
A synagogue, the only one that survived the WWII in its original appearance. Built in the 19th century, it's the second largest in Belarus after the Minsk synagogue. Overall there were seven synagogues in Kobrin, and despite the fact that the aforementioned one is partially in ruins, it still impresses with its size.
Jewish community nowadays :
There is no active Jewish community in Kobrin as for now. The facts tell that back to 1980s there was a small amount of Jews in the city, although recent census held in 1999 shows that no Jews remained in Kobrin.