Medzibezh

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MEDZIBEZH

MEDZIBEZH (Medzhibozh ; Pol. Miedzyborz ; Yid. Mezhibezh ), small town in Khmelnitsky district (former Kamenets-Podolski district), Ukraine; until 1793 in Poland and then under Russia, until 1917 in the province of Podolia. Large fairs were held there which attracted many Jewish merchants. The Jewish community of Medzibezh is one of the oldest in the Ukraine – Jews are mentioned there in 1518 – and until the *Chmielnicki persecutions of 1648 one of the largest in Podolia. During the first half of the 17th century, Joel *Sirkes officiated as rabbi. The community suffered severely at the hands of the Cossacks in 1651, 1664, and again at the beginning of the 18th century. In 1765 there were 2,039 Jews registered in the community of Medzibezh and the nearby villages. The founder of Ḥasidism, *Israel b. Eliezer Ba'al Shem Tov, made the town his seat from about 1740 until his death in 1760 and was buried there. The ẓaddikim*Baruch b. Jehiel, Israel's grandson, and R. *Abraham Joshua Heschel of Apta also lived and were buried there. From 1815 to 1827 a printing press published ḥasidic and kabbalistic works in Medzibezh. From 1,719 in 1847 the number of Jews grew to 6,040 (73.9% of the total population) in 1897, then fell to 4,614 (58.2%) in 1926. In the 1920s there existed a Jewish Council, a Yiddish newspaper was published, and a Jewish kolkhoz was founded. In 1939 the number of Jewish population dropped to 2,347 (52% of the total population). The town was occupied by the Germans on July 8, 1941. Later a ghetto was established, and on September 22, 1942 (Yom Kippur), 2,588 Jews were murdered by the Germans and Ukrainians. The murders continued until October 31, when the last Jews were killed.

bibliography:

H.D. Friedberg, Toledot ha-Defus ha-Ivri be-Polanyah (19502), 150; M. Spektor, Mayn Lebn, 2 (1926), 74–101; M. Osherowitch, Shtet un Shtetlekh in Ukraine, 1 (1948), 47–59.

[Yehuda Slutsky /

Shmuel Spector (2nd ed.)]