Myadel~Miadel~Miadelai~Miadziol~Miadziel~Stary Miadziol~Nowy Miadziol

Grand Duchy of Lithuania~ Poland ~Russia ~United Soviet Socialist Republics ~Belarus

The Myadel Jewish Community


Arye Geskin


According 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.

The Town

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.


There was 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 obligatory studies.

 In 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)

Religious Life

There was 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.

The German Occupation

The 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 infants .


My 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.

The Forests

On the 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.

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