kehilalinks: POGREBISHCHE

Researching the Jewish shtetl of Pogrebishche, Ukraine

Culture and Art in Pogrebishche

Art and Architecture

A History of Jewish Crafts and Guilds by Mark Wischnitzer lists two artistic items that were in the Pogrebishche synagogue: a candelabra made a bronze worker named Baruch, and a daily prayer book written by a scribe. The names of many martyrs are inscribed in the book.

Pogrebishche had a famous wooden synagogue that stood until the Nazis destroyed it in 1941. It was decorated on the inside with drawings and dedications from various patrons, including Achad Ha'Am's father, who dedicated the wooden roof. The book Wooden Synagogues by Maria Piechotka (Arkady, 1959) contains much information about the iconic synagogue found in Pogrebishche gathered from multiple other sources in various languages, and compiled in English.

Several legends existed regarding the construction of the synagogue: "When the first worker set up his ladder to climb to the roof, he fell from the ladder and died; the synagogue itself began to sink into the ground. A second worker also tried, and the synagogue sunk even more. A great fear descended on the congregation who were gathered. They didn't know what to do. They couldn't leave the synagogue how it was, as it was in danger of collapse. Yet they couldn't renovate it, as it was killing the workers! All the Jews in the town gathered to discuss the matter. Suddenly, an old Jew with a long, white beard approached the people. 'My advice is that you should bring all the schoolchildren and have them all surround the synagogue. Give them psalms and command them to read the psalms. At the same time, someone else should walk around collecting charity from each person for the city's poor people, and then you may begin the work, and I am sure there won't be any more problems.' The old man finished speaking and disappeared. Then everyone knew that it was surely Elijah the prophet. And so it was: the synagogue ceased to sink and the workers completed their work without further problems." (Reshumot, 5686, p. 393)

Model of Pogrebishche synagogue Site includes a picture of the model, a floorplan and a picture of the holy ark.


In Chaim Hazaz's collection of stories, Even Sha'ot, there is a story that mentions Pogrebishche on page 113. Hazaz himself was born in the Ukraine and studied in Kiev. In the story, the character Zimel Stavitzker debates whether to seel some heirlooms: three goblets for kiddush and a talit that belonged to his grandfather. He claims that his grandfather was the Av Beit Din (Chief Justice) in Pogrebishche and that we wrote approbations for several books, including a book called Sofer V'Shokel.

Yishayahu ben Asher Ginsberg, the father of Aham Ha'am (Asher Zvi Ginsberg) was born in Pogrebishche in 1836 and died in Odessa in 1899.

Misha (Michael) Lev (1917-2013), a Yiddish author mentioned in the Russian Jewish Encyclopedia, was born in Pogrebishche. One of his 17 books, Sobibor, was translated to English and published in 2007.

Meir Shalant, an essayist, journalist and economist, was born in pogrebishche. in 1896. He moved to Israel in 1972. He was the author of Promolchavshi Zhizn. (Source: Bosiljka Stevanovic and Vladimir Wertsman, Free Voices in Russian Literature, Russica Pubs, 1987.)

Perets Markish wrote Di Kupe (The Mound) in commemoration of the pogroms in Pogrebishche in 1919. (Source: Mikhail Krutikov, From Kabbalah to Class Struggle, Stanford University Press, 2010, p.114)

S.V. Myshanych wrote a book on folk music in Pogrebishche, called Pisenna kulʹtura radi︠a︡nsʹkoho sela : na materialakh s. Pohrebyshche Vinnyt︠s︡koï oblasti, 1920-1970 rr.

Chaim Weiner (1901-1952) was born in Pogrebishche and stayed there until 1921, when he fled to Kishinev and became a reporter (in Yiddish.) From there he went to Berlin and then to America. In 1932 he moved to Israel.

Other Famous Jews from Pogrebishche

Matvey Frenkel (b.1925), a historian, is mentioend in the Russian Jewish Encyclopedia

Semion Chemeris (1902-1980), a military figure, is mentioned in the Russian Jewish Encyclopedia


The part of Ukraine in which Pogrebishche is located was the heartland of Hassidut.

One famous Hassidic leader, Menachem Nachum Twerski (1730-1797) was the rabbi in Pogrebishche before he relocated to Chernobyl. He was a disciple of the Maggid of Mezritch.

His granddaughter, Chava, married Shalom Shachne, who became rabbi in Pogrebishche once Menachem Nachum moved to Chernobyl.

Shalom Shachne (1769-1802) was born in Mezritch, the son of Avraham Hamalach and grandson of the Maggid of Mezritch. He moved to Pogrebishche to become the rabbi and gathered many followers to the town. He is buried in Pogrebishche and his grave can still be seen today.

Shalom Shachne's oldest son, Avraham Friedman, became rabbi at age 17 in Pogrebishche after his father's early death. He too died young and is buried in Pogrebishche.

Another son, Yisrael Friedman (1796-1850, then briefly served as rabbi in Pogrebishche before relocating to Skvyra and then Ruzhyn. He founded the Ruzhiner dynasty of Hassidut, which grew into many offshoot dynasties, including Bohush, Boyan, Chortkov, Husiatyn, Sadigura, Shtefanesht, Vizhnitz, Skver and Vasloi.

There are several excerpts relating to Pogrebishche in The Regal Way: The Life and Times of Rabbi Israel of Ruzhin, a comprehensive study of the Ruzhiner Rebbe who was born in Pogrebishche, by David Assaf and translated by David Louvish.

Other Rabbis

Shlomo David Veisberg (b. 1852) was the rabbi of Pogrebishche in 1912. (Chester G. Cohen, Shtetl Finder, (Heritage Books, 1989). His son was Shmuel Veisberg.

Mordecai Halevi Landau (b. 1876) was the son of Chasidic rabbi Kalonomus Kalman Landau. He studied with Shlomo David Veisberg and eventually moved to Cleveland in 1934.