Map of Grand Duchy of Lithuania (WIKI)
Map of Belarus Today (LS)
Map of Vitebsk Area (Minsk Gubernia Map of 1834, JGM)
Table 1: The Jewish Population of Vitebsk
Year Jewish Population Percentage of Total Population
1772 1227 25 % (1)
1811 5490 (2)
1847 9417 (3) About 50% (4)
1861 14,774 (5)
1897 34,420 (6) 52.4 % (7)
1923 39,714 43.7 % (8)
1926 37,013 (43,180)  37.5 % (10)
1937 37,000 (11)
9/1939 41,000 (12)
1937 between 45-52,000 (13) or 50-60,000 (14)
1940 50,000 (before WW2) 
1941 16,000 (in ghetto) 
1944 (after WW2) 
1937 500 (18) 148,000 (19)
1960+ 20,000 (20)
2007 5000 (21) or 3500 (22) 15 % (23)
Table 2: Jewish Merchants of Vitebsk (24)
Flour Gregory Gerschman (25), Zalman Markovitz
Sugar Meir Gerschman (26)
Food Israel Meckler
Paper Shamaria Meckler, Katzelbogen
Kerosene and oils David Yachnin, Gregory Glazer
Iron and leather Vitenberg, Moshe Pesrovsky, Nachman Parnes, Setronsky
Manufactured goods Trinan
Dried fruits Nutkin
Salted fish Yachnin, Mindlin
Table 3: Jews of Vitebsk at the turn of the century (27)
Total population of Vitebsk gubernia: 1,489,246 (of those, 215,919 living in cities)
Jews and Karaims: 175,635 (113,848 in cities)
Yiddish as mother tongue: 174,240 (112,455 in cities)
Total population of Vitebsk: 33,345 men; 32,374 women
Jews in Vitebsk: 15,897 men; 17,555 women
Religious affiliation among Jews: Judaism 99.94%, Russian Orthodox 0.03%,
Catholics 0.01%, Protestants 0.01%, others 0.01%
Age distribution of Jews of Vitebsk guberniya:
Age Male Female
<1 2,558 2,474
1-10 20,647 20,910
10-20 19,656 23,552
20-30 13,800 16,465
30-40 8,637 9,777
40-50 7,328 8,370
50-60 4,972 5,492
60-70 3,173 3,140
70-80 1,361 1,161
80-90 316 256
90-100 35 46
COMPLETE REMARKS BY STEVEN WEITZ, OF TEMPLE BETH-EL IN HILLSBOROUGH, NEW JERSEY, DURING THE CONSECRATION OF A TORAH SCROLL DONATED TO CONGREGATION EMUNAH IN VITEBSK, BELARUS, MAY 7, 2006 (28)
Shalom, chaverim! I am so very happy to be here with you today! I have dreamed of this journey for almost three years. Finally, I get to stand here with you all, my brothers and sisters in Progressive Judaism. Let me tell you the story of how today came to be, and how my fellow Jews from Temple Beth-El in New Jersey decided to send Rabbi Gluck and me here with this sefer Torah for your Vitebsk community.
In early 2004, our temple board of trustees agreed that our congregation would take responsibility for transmitting Torah to future generations. Part of our efforts to be shomrim Torah, we met by fulfilling the 613th and last commandment in Torah: with the help of a sofer or scribe, we wrote our own sefer Torah. And, as many of you know, we had the honor of hosting Rabbi Abramovich at our siyyum celebration last September as he helped us complete our scroll.
At the same time we decided to write our own Torah, we also resolved to take seriously the principle
(kol Yisrael arevim zeh ba-zeh) that says as Jews, we are all responsible for one another. What we hoped to do was raise enough money to acquire a sefer Torah that we would donate to a Progressive Jewish congregation in the FSU.
But of the many communities in need, why Vitebsk? It could only have been God’s will! One day, Rabbi Gluck was on the phone with a woman in Los Angeles from the World Union for Progressive Judaism asking her if she knew of a congregation in the FSU that needed a Torah. At the very time they were speaking, she received an e-mail from Rabbi Abramovich asking if anyone could possibly get a sefer Torah to Vitebsk. We were told that your community had been waiting over 12 years for a Torah of your own. How privileged we are at Temple Beth-El to gift you this sefer Torah today.
Although many Jews in America have roots in Eastern Europe and Russia, most of us have lost our connection to this part of the world. I know that, in the 20th century, Jews from this region endured unspeakable hardship and oppression. And, in the past few days, this lesson has been burned into my memory, as I visited places in Minsk and Vitebsk where the Angel of Death slaughtered our Jewish brothers and sisters. Yet, after all this, we Jews endure! I see the proof of this here in Vitebsk: in your beautiful kindergarten children, in being warmly welcomed into the Frumin family home and learning from their sons Philipp and Gleb that they want to become Bar Mitzvah, and in seeing you all here today.
I believe in our continuity as a people for one reason above all others: Because we Jews embrace Torah and its teachings as our way of life. Because Judaism demands that we learn and live the words that Adonai gave to Moishe Rabbenu at Sinai. And because the great truth about life that exists as Torah is what will sustain our people in America, in Belarus and around the world.
So, chaverim, on behalf of my friends and fellow congregants from Temple Beth-El, accept this gift of Torah, given with full hearts and best wishes for you all. And as we say whenever we conclude the reading of one of the five books of Torah, “Chazak Chazak V'Nitchazek” - Be strong, be strong, and we will be strengthened!
A Sketch of Old Vitebsk in 19th century (29)
Old Vitebsk (30)
Modern Vitebsk – The City Center (31)
The Bridge Today (32)
1. BH, p. 1; EH, V.16, p. 76; EJ, V. 16, p. 191.
2. EH, V.16, p. 76.
3. VT, p. 4.
4. EH, V.16, p. 76.
5. VT, p. 4.
6. BH, p. 1; VT, p. 4.
7. BH, p. 1; EH, V. 1, p. 76; EJ, V. 16, p. 191, SV.
8. BH, p. 2; EJ, V. 16, p. 191.
10. BH, p. 2; EH, V.16, p. 76; EJ, V. 16, p. 191.
11. YV, p. 1.
12. YV, p. 1
13. VT, p. 444.
14. This is according to Nazi sources, and may not be correct. VT, p. 444.
15. HO, p. 403.
16. EH, V.16, p 76; EJ, V. 16, p. 192. This was according to the list made by The Jewish council. VT, p. 447.
17. HO, p. 403.
18. HO, p. 403; VT, p. 452.
19. EH, V. 16, p. 75.
20. EH, V.16, p. 76; HO, p. 403.
21. TCA, TCV. The population may be 10-15,000. Some don’t list themselves as Jews. RF
24. VT, p. 134.
25. My Grandfather (Z’L)
26. My Great-Uncle (Z’L)
27. This data comes from the data of The First All-Russia Census of 1897 for the Vitebsk gubernia. VS,
LDS microfilm 1732226 SV
30. The Jewish quarter was located at the right of the bridge. SV
31. Moscow Ave. This avenue stretches for nearly 4km in the southern part of Vitebsk. It ends at the entrance of the road to Moscow. The Vitebsk State University and the Vitebsk Technological University are situated here. W3