Mozyr is a city and district center in Gomel region of Belarus, situated on a hillside 130 km from the regional center.
Jews were first mentioned in chronicles in the second half of the 17th century. It is known that there were three synagogues in the city as of 1856. R. Kugel, a prominent Jewish community figure, was the chief Rabbi of Mozyr since 1861. He had also been the head of the local Jewish literacy school.
Jews of that period were mostly engaged in craftsmanship and trading. Apart of that, the matches factory, as well as wood sawing factory belonged to Jews.
There were eight active synagogues, an yeshiva, Jewish school and Talmud-Torah school in the wake of the 20th century. All of the facilities had been closed down until 1939.
Thousands of Jews were executed by the Nazis in the local ghetto during World War II. After the mass execution, almost no Jews remained in the city, while there was 30% of Jewish population within the city before the war.
On August 32, 1942, hundreds of Jews gathered inside a house at Malo-Pushkin street. They poured kerosene on the building walls and set it on fire, while the people are still inside. The point of that mass suicide was to escape execution by the Nazis. The incident is known as the "Belarusian Masada".
After the war some Jews returned to Mozyr. Although they refused to take back the partially-destroyed synagogue building, an official Jewish community was registered in 1946. Few years later, authorities denied the organization's right to exist.
The community organization was re-established officially in 1989, when a revival began in the city. A synagogue was opened, as well as Jewish culture club.
Places of interest:
Several monuments, commemorating the suffering of the community during the Holocaust.
• A monument for Jews at the place of a mass grave
• A monument composed of black polished granite, commemorating the aforementioned "Belarusian Masada"
• A monument placed at the point of mass executions
• The incredibly beautiful Mozyr Castle, dating back to 16th century
• The Pkhov river port, the biggest port of Belarus
Jewish community nowadays:
Some amount of Jews have returned to Mozyr after the WWII, and their ancestors are still living in the city. According to 2002 census, there were about 1,500 Jews in Mozyr.