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Chechelnik Cemeteries

Old Jewish Cemetery

Coordinates: 48°13'N 29°21'E    

The Jewish cemetery is located aproximately 150m behind the Polish Catholic Cemetery, stretched right along the road to Obodovka. From the town to it is a dirt road.

On the site, near the Polish cemetery - are located the most recent graves, the inscriptions on many of them are made in Russian and marked with white oil paint.

Earlier graves - from the second half of XIX century. - are located in remote, southern part of the cemetery.

On the overgrown shrubbery area remained somewhat remarkable artistically carved stone stelae with symbolic images of animals.

On the Chechelnik Cemetery is located the grave of Tsadik Moshe Zvi Giterman of Savran. Below you can see the Ohel (mausoleum) building and interior.
During the trip of Alexander Vishnevetsky to Chechelnik, a part of the Ohel roof had partially collapsed that winter due to heavy snowfall.

On the hilly outskirts of Chechelnik, the town’s Jewish cemetery abuts fields of corn and sunflowers that stretch to the horizon.
On a summer’s day, the cemetery was choked with weeds interspersed with brilliantly colored wild flowers that attracted scores of small white butterflies.

Excerpt from the article "The end of Shtetl Life" (1991)

The cemetery is one of the few Jewish burial grounds still in use in this part of the Soviet Union, and because it is, Jews from a number of nearby towns and villages bring their dead here to provide them with some sort of a Jewish funeral.

Mr. Okhs said that a municipal employee is paid by those Jewish families to maintain the place. It is, he said, in much better shape than the few Jewish cemeteries that remain elsewhere in the Ukraine.

Gravestones, now largely undecipherable, date from Chechelnik’s earliest days as a Jewish community. The older the grave, the lower on the hill it sits. A few of the gravestones had rocks and pebbles sitting on them, which Mr. Okhs said had recently been placed there by visitors, in accordance with Jewish custom.

In accordance with local custom – but not Jewish tradition – contemporary Soviet Jewish gravestones often picture the deceased. This stone was defaced by vandals.

In accordance with Soviet custom, the most recent gravestones bore photo engravings of the dead, whose memory they commemorate.

There is also a gravestone dedicated to children murdered in the Holocaust, and whose final resting place is unknown.

Ironically, the cemetery is the last Jewish institution still functioning in Chechelnik, the only reminder of what once existed here.

But once Mr. Alexandrovic leaves, there will be no one here who can lead a Jewish burial service.

Information from the International Jewish Cemetery Project

Alternate name: Chichelnik (Yiddish), Tschetschelnik (German), Czeczelnik (Hungarian), Cicelnic (Polish), Chechelnik (Russian), Chetschelnik (Ukraine) and Chitchilnik (others). Chechelnik is located in Vinnitskaya at 48?13 29?22, 280 km from Odessa and 88 km from Vinnitsa. The cemetery is located behind Catholic cemetery on the road out of town toward Berschadi. Present town population is 5,001-25,000 with 11-100 Jews.

-- Town officials: Town Executive Council, Myrakhovski Vladimir Andriyevich.
-- Regional: Vinnitska Oblast Council, Melnick Nikola Evtukhovich [Phone: (0432) 327540].
-- Caretaker: Babiy Tatyana.
-- Others: Vinnitska Oblast Jewish Community, Gybenko Bella Aronovna [Phone: (0432) 351666]. Vinnitska Oblast Cultural Society, Ilechyk Nikola Nikolayevich [Phone: (0432)325637].

The earliest known Jewish community was 17th century. 1939 Jewish population (census) was 2301. Effecting the Jewish Community were 1648-49 Khmelnitski Pogrom, 1768-1772 Pogrom at the time of Barskaya Confederation, 1918-1920 Civil war and 1941-1944 Ghetto. The Jewish cemetery dates from the 18th century with last known Hasidic burial 1994. Bessarabia 1941-1944 (5 km away) and Bukovina 1941-1944 (5 km away) used this unlandmarked cemetery. The isolated urban hillside has no sign or marker. Reached by turning directly off a public road, access is open to all. A broken fence with non-locking gate surrounds the cemetery. 501 to 5000 stones, most in original location with 25%-50% toppled or broken, date from the 18th to 20th century. Locations of any removed stones are unknown. The cemetery has special sections for men, women and rabbis. Some tombstones have iron decorations or lettering, with bronze decorations or lettering, with other metallic elements, portraits on stones and/or metal fences around graves. The cemetery contains unmarked mass graves. The municipality owns property now used for Jewish cemetery only. Properties adjacent are agricultural and residential. The cemetery boundaries are unchanged since 1939. The cemetery is visited frequently by organized Jewish group tours or pilgrimage groups, Jewish or non-Jewish private visitors and local residents. The cemetery was vandalized during World War II and frequently in the last ten years. Jewish individuals within country and abroad patched broken stones, cleaned stones, cleared vegetation and fixed gate 1945-1948. Jewish survivors, contributions from visitors and municipality pay the regular caretaker. Within the limits of the cemetery are no structures but more than one ohel. Vegetation overgrowth is a seasonal problem, preventing access. Water drainage is a seasonal problem. Serious threat: vegetation (Oldest 18-19c part is badly overgrown with trees and bushes, making access difficult.) and vandalism (Continuous breaking of headstones.) Moderate threat: uncontrolled access and pollution. Slight threat: weather erosion and existing nearby development.

Oks Vladimir Moiseevich of 270065, Odessa, Varnenskaya, 17D, apt. 52 [Phone: (0482) 665950] visited site on 6/16/94. Interviewed were People from Chechelnik. Oks completed survey on 16/06/1994. Documentation: Populations of Towns in the Podol Region. A.Krylov. 1905; National Minorities in Ukraine. Register. Kharkiv 1925; Historical Monuments in Podol-Kamanets. Goldman V.P. 1901; Town Populations in the Russian Empire. Vol 4. Podol Region 1864. Other documentation exists but was inaccessible.

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