Jewish town Rechytsa
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Rechytsa is the center of the homonymous district of the Gomel region in Belarus. The city has been known since the XIII century. From the end of the XIV century, the settlement was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and after the union of 1569 — the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. In the middle of the 17th century, there was a Jewish quarter in the town.
In the 1648–1650s, the settlement passed several times from the hands of the Khmelnytsky Cossacks to Polish control and vice versa. During the hostilities, the Jewish population was destroyed. The Jews again appeared in Rechytsa after the Truce of Andrusovo of 1667. After the division of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1793, Rechytsa became part of the Russian Empire.
By 1800, 1.2 thousand Jews lived here. After another half a century — 2 thousand, and by 1897–5.3 thousand people, who made up 57.5% of the townspeople.
Thanks to Rabbi Shalom Dov Ber Schneerson, Rechytsa in the 19th century turned into one of the centers of the spread of Hasidism.
By the beginning of the twentieth century, eight synagogues, heders, the Talmud Torah, as well as male and female Jewish schools operated in Rechytsa. In 1905, a Jewish pogrom took place in the town. The next year, the state rabbi and local authorities managed to prevent the pogrom, which was planned by the local Black Hundreds.
With the outbreak of the First World War, the Jewish population of Rechytsa increased due to refugees from the front-line regions to 7.4 thousand people (59% of the townspeople).
In the summer of 1920, local Jews became victims of a pogrom by Polish troops.
Local Jews took an active part in the formation of Soviet power in the 1920s. The first chairperson of the Rechytsa Council of Deputies, the first governor of the State Bank and the first Komsomol members were Jews. A third of the city council members were also Jews. In the 1920s, there were two schools in the city, in which teaching was conducted in Yiddish.
By 1940, 7.2 thousand Jews lived in the city, who accounted for 24% of the townspeople.
After the outbreak of World War II, local authorities took the initiative and persuaded Jews to leave the city. Thanks to this, part of the Jewish population left Rechytsa before the occupation in August 1941.
In the fall of 1941, the Nazis created a ghetto in the city, and in November 1941, they liquidated its prisoners. During the war years, 4.3 thousand Jews from Rechytsa were killed.
After the war, Jews from the surrounding settlements were settled in the city, in which the communities were destroyed.
In 1946, local Jews at their own expense erected a monument at the site of the 1941 executions. In 1994, thanks to donations from immigrants, a new monument appeared.
Despite the post-war restrictions, Jewish life in Rechytsa remained warm until the 1970s. Until the end of the 1940s, illegal minyans operated, until the second half of the 1960s, the community had its own shohet, and until the 1970s, they baked matzo. In 1979, 2,500 Jews lived in the city. Over the next decade, their number dropped to 1.9 thousand and in the 1990s, to several hundred people.
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