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LIDA , town in Grodno district, Belarus. Jews are first mentioned in the mid-16th century, and in 1579 King Stephan Batory gave them a Bill of Rights and allowed them to build a synagogue. According to a decision of the Lithuanian council (see *Councils of the Lands) of 1623, the Jewish community of Lida was subordinated to the Grodno kahal. The files of the Lithuanian financial commission contain records of the quarrels between the Lida kahal and the Jews of the neighboring villages. In 1766 there were 1,167 Jewish poll-tax payers in Lida and the vicinity. The community numbered 567 (73.6% of the total population) in 1817; 1,980 in 1847; and 5,294 (68%) in 1897. In 1862 the two first grade merchants and the five third grade were Jews, as were the 76 shops and the 32 other trade businesses Jewish. In the 1880s Lida turned into an important railway junction, which led to economic and demographic growth. Most of the small industry belonged to Jews. In the 1880s the 13 prayerhouses in the town were grouped in one large square; they were all damaged in a fire. Until World War ii the butchers' synagogue contained an Ark with undamaged ancient doors. In the 1880s a Ḥovevei Zion circle was founded, and money was collected for the building of the Mazkeret Batyah colony in Palestine. In 1902, at the initiative of Rabbi Reines, the founding convention of the Mizrachi movement was held in Lida. From September 20, 1915, the town was under German occupation, which put a halt to economic activity but did allow Jewish cultural life. On Passover eve 1919 the Polish soldiers of General Haller organized a pogrom and 39 Jews were killed. In 1921 there were 5,419 Jews (40% of the total population), reaching 6,335 (a third of the total) in 1931. In 1921, there were 302 Jewish workshops in Lida, over half of them family enterprises. There were 37 Jewish farms in 1927. Between the two world wars there were a Yiddish elementary school and a children's home, both affiliated to the Central Yiddish School Organization (cysho). There was also a *Tarbut Hebrew school and a kindergarten. The community maintained a hospital with 18 beds, and various welfare organizations. A few Jewish weeklies appeared for short periods. Among rabbis of Lida were R. *David b. Aryeh Leib of Lida (later in Amsterdam), his son Pethahiah, and his grandson, the ẓaddik David Benjamin. R. Elijah Schick (Elinke Lider) officiated in the 19th century, and I.J. *Reines, the Mizrachi leader, at the beginning of the 20th century. The latter founded a modern yeshivah in Lida which functioned until World War i.

[Encyclopaedia Judaica (Germany)]

Holocaust Period

In 1940 the number of Jews in Lida had risen to about 8,500. During the period of Soviet rule (1939–41), Jewish community institutions were closed, the activities of Jewish parties were forbidden, and the basis of the Jewish economy from the prewar period was demolished. A large part of the Jewish refugees from western Poland who found shelter in Lida were deported to the Soviet interior in the summer of 1940. Due to the annexation of Vilna and its environs to Lithuania, Lida turned into a border town, and many young Jews tried to smuggle over the border, believing that from there a way to Palestine and the West would be found. On June 25, 1941, a battle took place on the outskirts of Lida between the German and Soviet armies; during the bombardment the center of the town, which was inhabited principally by Jews, was burned, and there were hundreds of Jewish casualties. On July 5, 1941, the Germans collected the Jews of the city in the main square and took away all the rabbis, shoḥatim, doctors, and teachers – the leadership of the community – to near the village of Stoniewicze where they were murdered; 98 men fell at that time. In December 1941 the Jews were concentrated in a special quarter and were joined by the Jews from Lipniszki, Juraciszki, Traby, and Duoly. On May 8, 1942, an Aktion was carried out. Only 1,250 people were left; their number swelled later to 4,000 with survivors from various towns. All the remaining 5,670 were killed near the village of Stoniewicze. On July 8, 120 Jews from the psychiatric hospital were murdered. About 200 people succeeded in escaping the scene of the slaughter, returned to the ghetto, and told of the Germans' horrifying acts. A group of youths succeeded in leaving the city on May 21, 1942 and entered the forests of Naliboki. The youth in the ghetto also organized and armed themselves with weapons. At the end of 1942 contact was established with the partisans in the *Novogrudok area. The Jewish partisans from Lida fought with the unit of an experienced Jewish fighter, Tuvia Bielski, and another unit called "Iskra." The ghetto was destroyed on Sept. 17–19, 1943, and the Jews were deported to Majdanek death camp. The city was liberated on July 5, 1944, and there were about 150 Jewish survivors. Most of those who had been with the partisans were mobilized into the Soviet army and continued to fight in Germany until the end of the war.

The others left for Poland, and from there to Palestine. In the mid-1950s the Jewish cemetery was confiscated and converted into a building site. The Jewish population of the town in 1970 was estimated at a few families.

[Aharon Weiss]


S. Dubnow (ed.), Pinkas ha-Medinah (1925), index; Vilenskaya Kommissiya dlya razbora drevnikh aktov, Akty, 29 (1902), nos. 183, 206; Słownik geograficzny Królestwa Polskigo, s.v.; B. Wasiutyński, Ludność żydowska w Polsce… (1930), 80, 84, 87; Jewish Colonization Association, Rapport pour l'année 1928; Yad Vashem Archives.