According to the census of Belarus in 2009, more than 700 Jews live in Bobruisk, which make up 0.27% of the urban population. Back in 1999, Bobruisk was one of the five cities in the country, in which more than 1 thousand Jews lived.
Wherein, at the beginning of the twentieth century, more than 20 thousand Jews lived here, which accounted for 60.4% of the townspeople. In the 1920s, even a non-Jewish population spoke Yiddish. Unofficially, Bobruisk was called the “Jewish capital”, and the monument to Beaver — the symbol of the city — “Beaver Samuilovich.”
For the first time in written sфources, the city was mentioned in the XIV century, and the first information about Jews in its territory is dated to the XVI century. After the division of the Commonwealth at the end of the XVIII century, Bobruisk became part of the Russian Empire, received the status of a county town and found itself in the “Pale of Settlement” — the territory on which imperial power allowed Jews to settle.
In the XIX century the number of Jews living in Bobruisk has grown to 20 thousand people. By the proportion of Jews in the population, the city was only 16th in Belarus, but earned the title of “Jewish capital” for several reasons:
· Jewish fund was concentrated here.
According to 1910, 87% of Bobruisk merchants were Jews. The company operated by Joseph Katzenelson. Its turnover in 1893 amounted to 400 thousand rubles, which made Katzenelson’s business largest in Belarus.
Nissan Katzenelson — the son of the founder of the company, after the First Zionist Congress became one of the directors of the Jewish Colonial Bank. The organization was raising funds for the purchase of land in Palestine, on which the Zionists planned to create a Jewish state. Nissan was also a deputy of the First State Duma, and after its dissolution, one of the authors of the Vyborg Manifesto, an act calling for civil disobedience to the government. For this, Katzenelson was imprisoned.
According to urban legend, mother ensured that Nissan served a prison sentence in a Bobruisk prison. He had three kosher meals a day and the opportunity to celebrate Shabbat in the family circle outside the prison.
· The city was the largest center for the publication of Jewish literature.
Several Jewish publishing houses worked in the city. So, from the end of the 19th century, the Bund publishing house operated here, which in 1897 printed the documents of the 1st Congress of the RSDLP, held in Minsk. In the Bobruisk publishing house of Jacob Ginzburg in the late 1920s, the last Jewish religious book was printed on the territory of the USSR.
· Bobruisk was the educational and religious center of Belarus.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Talmud Torah worked in the city, 42 synagogues and several yeshivas operated. The leaders of Chabad Hasidism (Mordechai Baruch Etting, Shmaria Noah Schneerson) and other religious figures were born and carried out active work in Bobruisk.
The Jewish population of the city suffered during the Soviet-Polish war. By 1926, the proportion of Jews among citizens fell to 42%. More Jews suffered during the Holocaust.
Nevertheless, already in 1947, the Jewish community was registered in the city, which obtained the right from the authorities to restore the synagogue. A year later, the rebuilt building was handed over to the State Archives, and the community ceased to exist.
In the second half of the twentieth century, the Jews of Bobruisk sought the right to repatriate to Israel. By 1989, a little more than 10 thousand Jews, who made up 5% of the urban population, lived in the city. In the 1990s, after the opening of borders as a result of emigration and natural decline, the Jewish population continued to decline.
In the 21st century, about seven hundred Jews remained in the city. There is a religious community, a synagogue and a number of other organizations.
https://mitzvatemet.com/en/burials21 — online burials catalog.