Mir is a village situated in Korelichi district of Grodno region in Belarus. It lies on the banks of Miryanka river.
Jews were first mentioned in the local chronicles in the 17th century. As of 1765 there were 607 Jews in the community. Similarly to many Belarusian provincial settlements, Jews comprised the majority of population as of 19th century – circa 60% of Mir's population was Jewish. The tendency preserved until the WWII. Most of Jewish population were craftsmen, traders. They had reputation of excellent tailors, barbers, shoemakers, jewelers.
In 1815, a yeshiva was established in Mir. Approximately 4,000 students from different countries learned there. There were also two synagogues (a "warm" synagogue that had heating system in winter, and the "cold" synagogue, used only in summer). Buildings of both synagogues remained to our days.
During the WWII, Mir was occupied by Nazis in 1941. 1,500 Jews were executed before the local ghetto, located in the Mir Castle was established. It was also exterminated within a number of months in 1942. Some Jews managed to escape death with the help of Shmuel Oswald Rufeisen.
There is an interesting fact in the history of the community. During the Holocaust the Jews of the local yeshiva managed to escape thanks to Japanese consul in Lithuania, Tiune Sugihara. About 6,000 Jews received Japanese transit visas and left for the Far East, arriving in Japan and China through Vladivostok. That way, they managed to escape the Nazi atrocities and survived the Holocaust.
After the war, some of the community Jews returned to Mir to establish an yeshiva. Nowadays, the yeshiva is considered to be one of the biggest in the world, as it has branches in Israel and New York.
Zalman Shazar (Rubashov) was born in Mir in 1889. A scientist and writer, he went on to become the third president of Israel. He served two consecutive terms as president, that lasted for a decade (1963-73). After his death in 1974, many streets and avenues in Israel had been named after Shazar.
Places of interest :
There is a former synagogue court in the centre of the village. There are several buildings that belonged to the Jewish community and were its venues. Those include :
• Yeshiva, now a post office
• The "cold" synagogue, now a motel
• A heder, built in 1893, now serves as local library
• There is also a Jewish cemetery
• The main local sight – the Mir Castle (built in 1520).An UNESCO World Heritage site
As for today, there is no any Jewish community in Mir.