The Myadel Jewish
to historical findings the shtetl Myadel in Belorussia was established in 1324.
A monument at the south entrance of Myadel points out this fact. Myadel lies
between two lakes the Miastro and the Batorino. History relates that Napoleon' s
army drowned in Lake Batorino as the ice which covered the waters was not strong
enough to support the weight of the soldiers. Another lake called Naroch lies in
the vicinity of the town. All these lakes teemed with bountiful fish and
supplied the fishermen, the Jewish merchants and the population with essential
nutrition. The forests surrounding the town provided the materials for the
buildings as well as for heating the homes. The woods also had an abundance of
berries, mushrooms and other forest growth.
Sixty-five Jewish families lived in Myadel Nowy and seven families in Myadel
Stary before the second World War. In the center of Myadel Nowy was a
cobble-stoned square bordered on one side by the Jewish Street. Almost all
Jewish stores were to be found in that square. These stores were owned by Jewish
merchants as well as Jewish craftsmen: tailors, shoemakers and carpenters. The
synagogue was located on the Jewish street. On Thursdays, market- day in Myadel,
the farmers from farms that surrounded the town displayed their produce for sale
to the public. They sold cereals, fruits, vegetables and chickens, while the
Jews sold clothing, cloth, shoes and sundries. On the edge of Myadel, there was
also a cattle market which sold, aside from cattle, goats and sheep and horses.
Mostly Gypsies and a few Jews traded at this market.
an elementary school in Myadel Nowy which all the children attended. The
language used in the school was Polish. All the Jewish boys were obliged to
attend the ‘cheder’
( "classrooms" in Yiddish and in Hebrew)
one or two years before starting their
Myadel, for a year or two (between the ages of five and seven) the boys went to
study in the public elementary school, they studied Tphilot (prayers) and
Chumash (Torah) in the Cheder with the Melamed (teacher). When they reached
elementary school age (seven) they studied with all the children in the public
school but, in addition, in the afternoon after school, they went to the
cheder to study with the meladed for another three hours. They studied Haftora
and began preparation for their Bar Mitzva, reading from the Pentateuch in the
Synagogue, Gmara (Talmud), Tanach( the holy Scriptures) and continued the
study of Hebrew grammar.
In Myadel (Stary Myadel and Nowy Myadel) there was a cheder in each
synagogue and in private houses too. The Melameds were:
David Pliskin from Glubokje -
Melamed in the cheder of the synagogue in old Myadel.
Yeruchem (his surname now
forgotten) from Dolhinov -
Melamed in the
cheder of the synagogue in Nowy Myadel.
Chaim Sholem Estrin - Melamed in
his own house.
Reb Salitan (his personal name
now forgotten) - Melamed in the cheder of Zalman Chadash.
There was also a small branch of Hashomer Hazair (a leftish
inclined Zionist movement) that prepared young people who wished to reach the
shores of the Holy land. by sending them to Hachschara (training camps for the
emigration to Palestine)
a synagogue in Myadel Nowy and in Myadel Stary. In the synagogues, and in
several private homes, was a ‘cheder’ (classroom) where the sons of Myadel
families studied the Jewish themes that were taught by the Melamed (teacher).
Some young scholars went to study in Yeshivas outside of Myadel. Myadel's
Jewish community life centered around the synagogue in the Jewish street in
Myadel Nowy. The synagogue was a two storied building, the lower story was for
men and the upper story for women (Ezrat Nashim). The synagogue had a yard where
the children played, a wall and a gate. There was an inscription on the external
wall of the synagogue which read : “ki baiti bait tphila ikare lechol haamim”
(“For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all people”) Jesaias 56;7.
The synagogue was always crowded with people, especially on Jewish holidays with
Rabbi Kosczevsky attending and presiding over the service. He was the spiritual
leader of the Jewish congregation. On Shabat morning the Rabbi rendered his
usual drasha . His sermons struck a chord in the hearts of the members of the
community. With the occupation by the Russian army on the 17th of September
1939, all the religious life ended, and by the end of the war, the synagogue no
longer stood, having been burned.
danger to the Jews in Myadel began with the German occupation on 22nd of June
1941. Only ten young persons managed to escape east to Russia. All Jews were
made to wear a yellow Star of David on their chests, there was compulsory work,
murder of individual Jews and in stages, the decimation of the Jews began.
First, the torture and murder of twenty-one Myadel Jews at the bridge (among
them the Rabbi Avram Shmuel Kosczevsky and the Shochet Israel Shoag) on 30
August 1941 by the local Poles and by German soldiers. After two weeks they were
buried in the old cemetery in Myadel Stary. A partisan movement arose in Belarus
and the Judenrat of Myadel established contact with the partisan Yacov Segalchik
from Dolhinov-Myadel, and with his help one hundred and forty-four (144) Jews
managed to escape, on the evening of Yom Kipurim the 21st of September 1942, and
to reach the safety of the woods. The next day the Germans took the rest of the
Jews and enclosed them in the Ghetto inside a building over night. The next
morning, the 23rd of September 1942, they were led handcuffed to the forest
south of Myadel by the Lake Batorino. They were brought fifty meters from a
ditch which other Jews had been forced to dig. Then, they were taken , couple by
couple, to stand at the edge of the ditch and shot by the Germans. Sixty-five
people were murdered...whole families, men ,women and children, including
parents Itze and Taibl Geskin were among those led to the forest. My sister and
I were fortunate to have been saved at the very last moment. We were part of the
death-march and the shots killing the Jews were clearly heard. The German
commander suddenly remembered that my sister had not finished a sweater she had
been knitting for him. He ordered my sister to be released in order to finish
his sweater. She asked the commander to release me as well. He agreed, and my
sister and I were taken out of the ranks and returned to the Ghetto where we
stayed. In the Ghetto, craftsmen from Myadel, Kobylnik and Oshmany were retained
by the Germans because they were needed as workers.
1st of November 1942 , the Partisans attacked the garrison in Myadel . The
leader of the Jewish partisans, Yacov Segalchik broke the Ghetto fence and
eighty-six Jews escaped, together with the Partisans, to the woods. I was among
those who managed to escape and, by the grace of God, I am relating the tragic
story of the Jewish community of our Shtetl Myadel.