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Rediscovered Gravestones from a Destroyed Jewish Cemetery in Ostróg: The Case of Two Inscriptions of 1445

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  • 1 Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Science, St. Petersburg
  • | 2 University of Wisconsin
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Abstract

The earliest extant gravestone inscriptions from Western Ukraine are from the 16th century; however, some perished monuments of the 15th century have been mentioned in literature. Among these are two 1445 inscriptions from Ostróg published by M. Biber in 1907. The Jewish cemetery in Ostróg was destroyed in 1968, and the two gravestones did not survive. However, several hundreds of gravestones from the destroyed cemetery in Ostróg have been found recently and there are several 17th–19th century epitaphs published by Biber among them. In addition, several photographs of the cemetery and its monuments are kept in the depositary of a local museum, including one presumed 1445 inscription. We have compared these materials with those published by Biber and thus have been able to re-evaluate the authenticity of the 1445 epitaphs. One of them turns out to be of 1520, while the date of the other one remains questionable.

Abstract

The earliest extant gravestone inscriptions from Western Ukraine are from the 16th century; however, some perished monuments of the 15th century have been mentioned in literature. Among these are two 1445 inscriptions from Ostróg published by M. Biber in 1907. The Jewish cemetery in Ostróg was destroyed in 1968, and the two gravestones did not survive. However, several hundreds of gravestones from the destroyed cemetery in Ostróg have been found recently and there are several 17th–19th century epitaphs published by Biber among them. In addition, several photographs of the cemetery and its monuments are kept in the depositary of a local museum, including one presumed 1445 inscription. We have compared these materials with those published by Biber and thus have been able to re-evaluate the authenticity of the 1445 epitaphs. One of them turns out to be of 1520, while the date of the other one remains questionable.

Hebrew gravestones constitute, perhaps, the most abundant class of monuments of Jewish culture still present in Eastern Europe. Gravestone inscriptions or epitaphs are an important and authentic source for the history and culture of Ashkenazi Jews. The Eastern European Hebrew epitaphs occupy a very special place in Jewish culture between religious and secular, professional and folk literatures, and written and oral traditions, which makes it important to trace the origin of the genre. The earliest extant gravestone inscriptions from Western Ukraine and Eastern Poland are from the 16th century; however, some perished monuments of the 15th century have been mentioned in literature.1 Among these are two 1445 inscriptions from Ostróg published by M. Biber in 1907 in his Hebrew book Memory of the Great People of Ostróg.2 The Jewish cemetery in Ostróg was destroyed in 1968, and the two gravestones did not survive. However, several hundreds of gravestones from the destroyed cemetery in Ostróg have been found recently. Although the presumed 15th-century inscriptions are not among these rediscovered monuments, several 17th–19th-century epitaphs have been published by Biber. In addition, photographs of the cemetery and its monuments are kept in the depositary of a local museum. The objective of the present study is to compare these materials with those published by Biber and thus to re-evaluate the authenticity of Biber’s publication and, in particular, of the 1445 epitaphs.

Ostroh/Ostróg (Ukrainian and Russian: Остро́г, Polish: Ostróg, Yiddish/Hebrew אוסטראה3) is a city in the Rivne oblast’ (historical Wohlin/Volhynia region) in Western Ukraine. The fortress of Ostróg was mentioned for the first time in the Hypatian Codex in 1100. Since the second half of the 14th century, the city had been a part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and, after the Union of Lublin (1569), of the Kingdom of Poland. The city belonged to various magnates including the Ostrogski, Luborimski, Zasławski and Sanguszkó princely families. Ostróg received the Magdeburg rights in 1585 and it was the center of the Ordynacja ostrogska between 1609 and 1766.4 After the partitions of Poland and annexation of Volhynia by Russia in 1793, Ostróg became a city in the Volhynia Gubernia of the Russian Empire. Between 1921 and 1939, Ostróg belonged to Poland. At the beginning of World War ii it was annexed by the Soviet Union and became a part of the Soviet Republic of Ukraine from 1939 until the independence of Ukraine in 1991.

Ostróg was an important center for the Jewish communities of Podolia, Volhynia and East Galicia in the pre-Chmielnicki time, i.e., before the wars of 1648/1649,5 it being one of the earliest places in the region where Jews have settled. In addition to the gravestone inscriptions presumably dated 1445,6 there is an archive document of 1447 mentioning Jews in Ostróg.7 The Ostróg community was one of the four original leading communities in Volhynia represented at the Council of the Four Lands.

Several eminent scholars and Rabbis lived in Ostróg, including Solomon Luria (Maharshal), Isaiah Horowitz (Shela ha-Qadosh), Samuel Edels (Maharsha), and David b. Samuel ha-Levi (Taz). Later Ostróg also became an important center of Hasidism. A number of benevolent societies and community foundations functioned in Ostróg, the most important being the burial society.

The evidence regarding the existence of the community in the 15th century is based on the gravestone inscriptions published by M. Biber in 1907 in a separate section of his book called ‘Two old inscriptions.’ Biber provides the following description of the monuments:

Here at the cemetery, in the place called ‘the old cemetery,’ many very old gravestones were found very deep in the earth. Since I did not find for myself a helper and supporter, I could not raise these gravestones from the depth of the ground. I managed only to dig the ground around two old gravestones and to read the inscriptions upon them. The gravestones were made from very large and strong stones, and I could not find similar ones at the cemetery. Even after four hundred years have passed, the time could not damage them even slightly, and the carved letters were large and they surprised the eyes of a reader. The gravestones had no pictures, such as the ornaments, lions, or deer found on many gravestones since the year 416 [1656] and afterwards.8

Biber’s book was not a scientific publication and it did not include pictures of the monuments; however, the book made an impact upon Jewish historiography.9 The inscriptions on the earliest two monuments, according to Biber, are the following:

פה טמון איש חשוב
מנחם ב״ר אליעזר
ונקבר ביום ה׳ ט״ו
ימים לחודש
שבט שנת ר״ה לפ׳
ק׳ תהי נשמתו
צרורה בצרור
החיים

Here is hidden an important man, / Menaḥem,10 s[on of] R[abbi] ʾEliʿezer, / and he was buried on Thursday, 15 / days of the month / Shevat year 205 of the M[inor] / E[ra], may his soul / be bound in the Bundle / of Life.11

Note that Shevat 15, 5205 (corresponding to February 1, 1445) falls on Saturday (and not on Thursday), when Jewish burials are forbidden.12 This may indicate a mistake in deciphering the date on an old inscription. The second inscription reads:

פה נטמן איש
נאמן זקן ונכבד
ר ישראל ב״ר דוד
זל ונקבר ביום
י״ט אדר לפ״ק
תנצב״ה

Here lies a / trustworthy old man R[abbi] Isra⁠ʾel s[on of] R[abbi] David / of b[lessed] m[emory], and he was buried on the / 19th day of Adar 205 of the M[inor] E[ra], / m[ay his] s[oul be] b[ound in the] B[undle of] L[ife].

According to Biber’s reading of the inscription, the word Adar corresponds to both the month and the year, which is not a standard way of presenting the date. Adar 15, 5205 was Friday, March 7, 1445 of the Gregorian calendar. Biber indicates that three letters of the word אדר are marked with tildes. However, it is very easy to miss a tilde in an old inscription, which would result in a drastic change of the date, for example, if another letter, such as kuf or resh was also marked.

In Biber’s publication, besides these ‘two oldest inscriptions,’ there are nine pre-1648 epitaphs: Mordechai b. Zecharia ha-Kohen (1591), ʾEliʿezer b. Simḥa ha-Kohen (1612), David b. ʾAvraham (1612), Itzḥaq b. David (1612), Moshe Mordechai b. Baruch (1617), Penina Hendel b. Shemuʾel (1613), Ruḥama b. Mordechai (1624), Shemuʾel ʾEliʿezer b. Yehuda Ha-Levi ʾEdels (Maharsha) (1631), Shimshon b. Itzḥaq Baḥ (1636).13 A significant 146-years gap between the oldest 1445 monuments and the next 1591 gravestones looks unusual if not suspicious.

In the archive of the Ostroh Museum of History and Culture, there is a photograph of the first gravestone14 (Fig. 1).

figure 1
figure 1

M. Biber’s presentation of the ‘two oldest inscriptions’ and a photograph of one of them

Citation: Zutot 14, 1 (2017) ; 10.1163/18750214-12141058

From that photograph we read:

פה טמון איש חשוב
מנחם ב״ר אליעזר
ונקבר ביום ה׳ ט״ו
ימים לחודש
שבט שנת רף לפ
ק׳ תהא נשמתו
צרורה בצרור
החיים

The photograph confirms Biber’s reading of the epitaph except for two details. First, instead of תהי, which would be a grammatically correct form of the imperfect/jussive in biblical Hebrew, we find תהא, a form used in rabbinical Hebrew. Second and more importantly, the date is Shevat 15, 5280 (January 15, 1520), which falls on Thursday.

The Jewish cemetery in Ostróg was destroyed in 1968 when the city authorities decided to build an amusement park at the place of the abandoned cemetery. It was decided to use the gravestones as construction material for concrete foundation and reinforcement of the buildings of a power station and a hospital. After the independence of Ukraine in 1991, the park was effectively closed, and some of these gravestones were recovered. Thanks to the efforts of a local activist and city council member, Mr. Gregorey Arshinov, a total of 400 monuments have been found and 205 of them reinstalled at the cemetery.15

Among the rediscovered 209 gravestone inscriptions in our possession, one belongs to the 17th century, five to the 18th century, and 50 to the 19th century.16 The rest is of the first half of the 20th century or without any date. Out of these 56 pre-1900 epitaphs, eight are found in Biber’s book, and one person is mentioned although his epitaph is not listed (Yaʿakov Yosef b. Zeʾev Volf, August 31, 1877).17

1 Peretz b. Tzevi (March 17, 1689)18

Here / is hidden the vessel full of manna,19 / Kalkol, Darda, / and Heyman,20 its scent / like a persimmon, / old one and filled with da[ys],21 / h[onorable] o[ur teacher the] R[av] R[abbi]22 Peretz, / son of R[av] R[abbi] Tzevi, / m[ay the memory of the] r[ighteous be for] b[lessing],23 / passed away / 25 Adar 4/49 o[f the] M[inor] E[ra].

There are several minor inaccuracies in Biber’s text: ימים instead of ימ (line 7), כה instead of ךה (line 12), and placing the letter tav into line 13 instead of line 12.

2 ʾAvraham b. Moshe ha-Kohen (June 7, 1744)24

About this / is the cry, about / this beauty / absorbed by earth,25 a simple / and honest man,26 who was engaged in commerce / truthfully,27 his house was open / for passersby and returning ones. Mr. / R[abbi] R[av] ʾAvraham, s[on of the] saint / ou[r teacher] R[abbi] R[av] Moshe / ha-Kohen, who passed away on / Sunday the 27th of the month / Sivan 504 o[f the] M[inor] E[ra]. / M[ay his] s[oul be] b[ound in the] b[undle of] l[ife].

There are several minor deviations from the inscription in the Biber’s publication: הרב instead of הרר (line 8), כו instead of ךז (line 11), missing לפק' תנצב'ה in the last two lines; furthermore, Biber does not keep the division into lines for this inscription.

3 Yeḥiel Mikhel b. ʾEliaqim Getz (February 23, 1748)28

Here / is the place of rest / of a man who was respected by God and was / respected by creatures, loved peace / and brought close the poor / and needy and was busy with the commandment / of visiting the sick. He was early in the morning / and late in the evening at the s[ynagogue], exhausted / his soul with the fasts, went straight ways and acted / righteously, and his mercy will stay forever, / the [great Rabbi] the man of Torah Mr. Yeḥiʾel / Mikhel a s[on of] ou[r teacher] R[abbi] R[av] ʾEliaqim / Getz, passed away on the 24th day of Adar 508 o[f the] M[inor] E[ra], M[ay his] s[oul be] b[ound in the] b[undle of] l[ife].

The lower part of the inscription (shown in italics) cannot be read, and it was restored from Biber’s publication. We have included this part, since it involves the name of the deceased. Biber introduces a minor ‘correction’ נוח instead of נוחה twice (in lines 3 and 4).

4 Shelomo Zalman b. Yehuda ha-Kohen (July 23, 1748)29

… priest / who in the Torah and in service, / his lips spoke wisdom, / the founding stone, / … the pious Rabbi, ou[r teacher] R[abbi] / Shelomo Zalman ha-Kohen, / s[on of] the pious ou[r teacher] R[abbi] Yehuda, / joined his people on the / 27th day of Tamuz 508 o[f the] M[inor] E[ra], / M[ay his] s[oul be] b[ound in the] b[undle of] l[ife].

The stone is broken, and the upper part of the inscription is lost (however, it is present in Biber’s publication). There are minor modifications in Biber’s text: יהודא instead of יהודה (line 7), עמיו instead of עמו (line 8) and חק‘ת instead of תק‘ח (line 9). Apparently, Biber is trying to ‘improve’ spelling here.

5 ʾAharon Zelig b. Yoʾel Fayvish (December 31, 1754)30

Here / is hidden / a righteous and truthful man who studied / the Lord’s Torah days and nights,31 / a teacher of righteousness to many, / who spread the Torah for Israel. / Many heard those fine words, / which he taught32 / here for many, in his writings in / the book ‘Anointing of ʾAharon’ / and in the book ‘Offering of Aharon,’33 / an outstanding Rabbanite ou[r teacher Rabbi] / ʾAharon Zelig, a s[on of] ou[r teacher Rabbi] / Yoʾel Fayvish, pass[ed away] 17 / Tevet 515 o[f the] M[inor] E[ra], M[ay his] s[oul be] b[ound in the] b[undle of] / l[ife].

6 Naftali Hirsh b. Yoʾel Fayvish (April 25, 1756)34

Ou[r teacher] R[abbi] R[av] / Yoel Fayvish [the righteous of] b[lessed] m[emory] / passed away in the eve of the h[oly] S[abbath], / 25 days of the month / Nisan 516 o[f the] M[inor] E[ra], M[ay his] s[oul be] b[ound in the] b[undle of] l[ife].

The stone is broken, and the upper part of the inscription is lost; however, it is present in Biber’s publication. There is a minor modification in Biber’s text: כה instead of ךה (line 4). Note that Nisan 25, 5516 corresponds to Sunday, April 25, 1756. Possibly, the person died on the eve of Sabbath and was buried on Sunday.

7 Yequtiʾel Zusman b. Shelomo Zalman ha-Kohen (August 11, 1852)35

The gravestone was severely damaged, the text can barely be read, and we were unable to find any deviations from the text in Biber’s publication.

8 Ḥayim Mordechay b. ʾAbba Tzevi ha-Kohen (May 16, 1881)36

On Monday 17 / Iyyar, year 641 o[f the] M[inor] E[ra], / a prominent and famous Rabbi, / a nice person, really God-fearing seeking justice and mercy, / crowned with degrees of superiority, / loved by Heaven and nice to creatures o[ur teacher] / R[abbi] Ḥayim Mordechay s[on of] the Rabbi ou[r teacher] / R[abbi] ʾAbba Tzevi ha-Kohen, grandchild of our Rabbi, / the author of ‘Beautiful Faces’ and the author of ‘Miracles,’37 and grandchild / of the Gaon ou[r teacher] ʾEfrayim Zalman / Margoliot from Brody,38 / M[ay his] s[oul be] b[ound in the] b[undle of] l[ife].

The stone is broken, and the upper left part cannot be read. We have restored it using Biber’s text since it includes the date. The restored part of the text is in italics. In the remaining part, there are several minor inaccuracies in Biber’s text: ירא instead of הירא (line 4), מאליפות instead of מאליפת (line 6), בריאות instead of בריאת (line 7), and פי‘פ instead of פמא (line 10). The former is perhaps supposed to mean the title of the book יפות פנים, Panim yafot (Beautiful Faces). On the other hand, the abbreviation פמא could mean מאירות פנים, Panim meʾirot (Bright Faces); however, no book by Pinḥas ha-Levi Horowitz with this title is known.

We can summarize our findings:

  1. The epitaph of Menaḥem b. ʾEliʿezer, who was buried on Thursday, was incorrectly dated by Biber as Shevat 15, 5205 (February 1, 1445 ce, which was Saturday). The correct date is Shevat 15, 5280 (Thursday, January 15, 1520 ce). The date of the second epitaph (Israʾel b. David), which was dated by Biber as 1445, is also questionable since it has a nonstandard rendering of the date, which makes a mistake not unlikely.

  2. From the comparison of the eight epitaphs published by Biber with the same inscriptions rediscovered recently in Ostróg, we found that in general, Bibers’ rendering of the inscriptions is accurate; however, he often introduces minor ‘corrections’ to the spelling in trying to ‘improve’ it.

  3. There is a large 146-year gap between the ‘two oldest epitaphs’ of 1445 and the next oldest epitaph of Mordechai b. Zecharia ha-Kohen of 1591 published by Biber. This gap is an additional argument against the accuracy of dating the two 1445 inscriptions, since there is no independent evidence that the cemetery was used before 1591. Dating the epitaph of Menaḥem b. ʾEliʿezer with 1520 reduces the gap to only 75 years.

The overall conclusion is that the date of 5205 (1445) suggested by Biber for the ‘two oldest epitaphs’ from Ostróg is in one case wrong, and in the second case is at least suspicious. One should be careful referring to these inscriptions as evidence that a Jewish community existed in Ostróg by 1445. Despite that, the epitaph of 1520 is the oldest Ashkenazi inscription from Ukraine, and it is more than ten months older than the inscription from Busk dated Kislev 3, 5281 (November 23, 1520).

1

The earliest known Ashkenazi inscription from Ukraine of 1520 belongs to Yehuda b. Jacob from Busk, see M. Nosonovsky, ‘Epitafii XVI veka s evrejskih nadgrobij Ukrainy’ (Epitaphs of the 16th century from Jewish gravestones in Ukraine),’ in Monuments of Culture: New Discoveries (Moscow 1999) 21. In Eastern Poland the earliest extant inscriptions are dated mid-16th century, although in Western Poland (Wrocław) an inscription of 1203 was reported. Several pre-1500 Ashkenazi epitaphs from different places in historical Poland or Lithuania are mentioned in several publications and unpublished archival sources; however, no reliable publications are available (Nosonovsky, ‘Epitafii,’ 26). On Hebrew gravestone inscriptions in Europe see also F. Wiesemann, Sepulcra judaica. Bibliographie zu jüdischen Friedhöfen und zu Sterben, Begräbnis und Trauer bei den Juden von der Zeit des Hellenismus bis zur Gegenwart (Essen 2004).

2

M. Biber, Sefer Mazkeret li-gedole Ostroha (Berdichev 1907) 29.

3

Also the spellings אוסטרהא, אוסטרא, and אוסטרוה were used. Some Rabbinical authors called the city אות תורה (‘Letter of Torah’ in Hebrew) stressing its prominence in Torah learning.

4

Ostróg was a historically important center of education and culture: the eastern (Orthodox) Christian Akademia Ostrogska (Острозька академія) was established there in 1576, which became the first Orthodox Christian university. The first printed Bible in the Old Church Slavonic translation (the Ostrog Bible) was printed there in Cyrillic in 1581 by Ivan Fedorov.

5

The community perished during the Cossack uprising under Chmielnicki in 1648/49 when hundreds of families were massacred, see N. Hanover, Yeven metzula (Tel Aviv 1945) 70. In 1661 there were only five Jewish families in the town. Later the community revived, to regain its former leading position in Volhynia, with jurisdiction over a number of communities in the vicinity, see Sh. Spector, Pinqas ha-qehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland, Vol. 5 (Jerusalem 1990) 34–40.

6

E.g., M. Bałaban, Zabytki Historyczne Żydów w Polsce (Jewish Historical Antiquities in Poland) (Warsaw 1929) 114; Evrejskaya Enciklopediya (Jewish Encyclopedia) (St. Petersburg 1914) 12: 149; Y. Alperowitz, ed., Sefer Ostraʾah: Matzevet zikkaron li-qehillah qedosha (Tel Aviv 1987); B.H. Ayalon-Baranick, ed., Pinqas Ostrʾah: Sefer zikkaron li-qehillat Ostrʾah (Tel Aviv 1960); Y.L. Fishman (Maimon), ‘Ostraha,’ in ʿArim ve-immahot be-Yisraʾel (Jerusalem 1946) 1: 5–40.

7

There is a reference to Jews in Ostróg in Polish treasury documents dating 1447 , see Spector, Pinqas ha-qehillot, 34).

8

Biber, Sefer Mazkeret, 29.

9

Menahem Mendel b. ʾArye Leybush Biber (1848–1923) was a teacher and Yiddish writer, born in Ostróg. Following his marriage in 1866, he left for the city of Kraków and returned back in 1889 (R. Shpizel, ‘Neutomimyj issledovatel’ I propagandist evrejskogo duhovnogo naslediya – pisatel’ i istorik M.M. Biber’ [Tireless researcher and propagandist of Jewish spiritual heritage – a writer and historian M.M. Biber], in Materialy X mizhnarodnoji naukovoji konferenciji ‘Evrejs’ka istoriya ta kultura v karjinah Central’noji ta Shidnoji Jevropy’ [Materials of the 10th international scientific conference ‘Jewish history and culture in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe’], Kyiv 2002). In the introduction to his book, Biber regrets that the scholars of his days were divided into two camps – the haredim (ultra-religious Jews) and the maskilim (supporters of the Jewish Enlightenment). Biber claims that prominent figures in both parties are aware of his work, including Hafetz Hayim and Simon Dubnov (Biber, Sefer Mazkeret, v). On the relations between the orthodox historiography and that of the maskilim and the role of gravestone inscriptions see H. Gertner, ‘The Beginning of “Orthodox Historiography” in Eastern Europe: A Reassessment,’ Zion 67 (2002) 293–336.

10

When translating the inscriptions we use, for consistency, the standard scholastic transliteration of Hebrew names based on the Sephardic pronunciation, when possible. Note that Hebrew names were actually pronounced in accordance with the Ashkenazi pronunciation. Furthermore, they were pronounced in a local dialect (which, in addition, could vary at different time periods). However, we are trying to transliterate Yiddish names, when possible, in accordance with modern standard Yiddish pronunciation. These names were also pronounced in local dialects differently during different time periods.

11

The so-called ‘Minor Era’ (פרט קטן) is a standard form of presenting a Jewish year from the Creation when the millennium is not mentioned. The final blessing formula ‘may his/her soul be bound in the Bundle of Life,’ often abbreviated as תנצבה, is common in most Hebrew epitaphs. Originating from 1 Samuel 25:29, this formula was widely used in the talmudic, rabbinical and liturgical texts (e.g., bShabbat 162b). Most traditional Jewish commentators understood the expression ‘the Bundle of Life’ (צרור החיים) as a reference to the World-to-Come or to the Throne of Glory, where individual souls reunite with their heavenly source. The custom to pronounce these words during the commemoration ritual has emerged in medieval Europe; see A. Reiner, ‘Epitath Style of Tombstones from Würzburg Cemetery between 1147–1346,’ in K. Müller, S. Schwarzfuchs, and R. Reiner, eds. Die Grabsteine vom jüdischen Friedhof in Würzburg aus der Zeit vor dem Schwarzen Tod (Würzburg 2011) 263–295, esp. 281–286; also M. Fogelman, ‘May his Soul be Bound in the Bundle of Life,’ Sinai 49 (1961) 176–180.

12

For the conversion from the Hebrew to Gregorian calendar, we use the standard tools, such as hebcal.com. Note that the Gregorian calendar was introduced by the Catholic Church only in 1582 (and in many territories much later). However, the Gregorian calendar can be extrapolated to earlier dates. The frequent inconsistency between the day of the week and the Hebrew date is a known phenomenon which puzzled many scholars of Hebrew epigraphy. For example, O. Muneles noticed that among the 75 oldest inscriptions from the Frankfurt cemetery there is inconsistency in 43. Muneles quoted Gershom Sholem who had even suggested that the chronological tables by Mahler (commonly used for calendar conversion during the pre-computer era) may be incorrect (O. Muneles, Ketuvot mi-bet ha-ʿalamin ha-yehudi ha-ʿatiq be-Prag [Jerusalem 1988]).

13

Biber, Sefer Mazkeret, 40–50.

14

The archival number is ‘Фонди ОДИКЗ КН-7104/III-ф-2932 [Fondy ODIKZ KN-7104/III-f-2932].’ We would like to thank Mr. G. Arshinov for the photo.

15

The decision ‘to close the former Jewish cemetery on Papanin street’ was taken by the Executive Committee of the local Soviet (Council) on March 22, 1968. The motivation was that the cemetery had been abandoned, and ‘the graves are not maintained by relatives,’ while ‘there is no other place for the city park.’ Furthermore, the cemetery, which was close to a school, had become a site of dangerous crimes; two women were raped there in February and March 1968, according to a letter from a local police chief to the head of the executive Committee. The remains of six Jews who were buried at the cemetery between 1948 and 1966 were exhumed and brought to a different cemetery. This information is found in the official file about closing the cemetery supplied to us by Mr. G. Arshinov.

16

We would like to thank Mr. G. Arshinov for the permission to use his photographs of the monuments.

17

Biber, Sefer Mazkeret, 240.

18

Biber, Sefer Mazkeret, 73.

19

Exod. 16:33.

20

1 Kings 5:11.

21

Gen. 35:29, Job 42:17, 1 Chron. 23:1.

22

Pleonastic abbreviated praise formulas or ‘titles,’ such as הרר=הרב רבי (‘the R[abbi] R[abbi]’), מוהרר=מורנו הרב רבי (‘ou[r teacher] the R[abbi] R[abbi]’), כמהר'ר=כבוד מורנו הרב רבי (‘H[onorable] o[ur teacher] the R[abbi] R[abbi]’) and similar are very common in front of the proper names in the epitaphs.

23

Abbreviated blessing formulas זל=זכרונו לברכה (‘his m[emory] f[or blessing]’) and זצל=זכר צדיק לברכה (‘M[emory of the] r[ighteous] f[or blessing]’) are very common after the name of the deceased. The latter formula is based on Prov. 10:7.

24

Biber, Sefer Mazkeret, 117.

25

bBerachot 5b, bAvoda Zara 20a.

26

Job 1:1.

27

bShabbat 31a.

28

Biber, Sefer Mazkeret, 131.

29

Biber, Sefer Mazkeret, 120.

30

Biber, Sefer Mazkeret, 136.

31

Psalms 1:1.

32

A Talmudic Aramaic expression, see, e.g., bBerachot 8a, bBava Qama 20a.

33

The books משחת אהרן (Anointing of ʾAharon, Frankfurt-on-Oder, 1746) עולת אהרן (Offering of ʾAharon, Ostrog, 1733) by ʾAharon Zelig b. Yoʾel Faybush.

34

Biber, Sefer Mazkeret, 139.

35

Biber, Sefer Mazkeret, 309.

36

Biber, Sefer Mazkeret, 323.

37

Rabbi Pinhas ha-Levi Horowitz (1731–1805), the author of הפלאה (Haphlaʾa, printed in Offenbach, 1786) and יפות פנים (Panim yafot, printed in Ostróg, 1824).

38

Ephraim Zalman Margolis (1762–1828).

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