MEZHIRECH (Pol. Miedzyrzec Korecki ; Ukrainian Mezhirichi ), a town in Rovno district, Ukraine. In Jewish sources Mezhirech is called Mezrits Gadol to distinguish it from Miedzyrzec Podlaski in the province of Lublin and Miedzyrzec in the province of Poznan. An organized Jewish community existed there from the 1570s. In 1700 the economic situation of the Jews was satisfactory, and they were obliged to pay a poll tax (together with Kilikiev) of 1,550 zloty, which was a considerable sum on the Volhynian tax list. The community struggled to free itself from the dependency on Ostrog. During the liquidation of the *Council of Four Lands, Mezhirech is mentioned as an independent community. In 1707 there were no Jews due to the total destruction of the city by Ataman Mazepa. In 1784 there were 295 Jews. Among the celebrated Jewish personalities who lived there were the kabbalist R. *Jacob Koppel b. Moses Lipschuetz and R. *Dov Baer of Mezhirech; as a result of the latter's presence the town became a center of the ḥasidic movement. In 1847 the Jewish community numbered 1,808 persons. At the close of the 19th century the Jews of Mezhirech established and developed a factory producing brushes, which became known throughout Russia. During 1910–12 the annual turnover of this firm amounted to over 50,000 rubles. There were 2,107 Jews (67% of the total population) living in the town in 1897 and 1,743 (73%) in 1921. A Tarbut school and nursery operated in the town, and from 1930 a religious school. In 1937 Beitar established a farm to train agricultural workers for Ereẓ Israel, and served also as a base for the *Irgun Zeva'i Le'ummi. The town was occupied by the Soviet army in September 1939, and, on July 6, 1941, by the Germans, who murdered, robbed, and conscripted the Jews into forced labor, with the assistance of the local Ukrainians. Of the 160 young Jews sent to work in Kiev, almost all were murdered there, with only two who had joined Soviet partisans surviving. On the first day of Shavuot (May 22, 1942) most of the town's Jews were murdered at prepared pits outside the settlement. The remaining 950 were confined in a ghetto. On September 26, 1942, about 900 of them were executed, and others fled, but only part of them managed to survive by joining Soviet partisan units. On January 14, 1944, the town was liberated, and 30 Jews came out of the forests and from hiding, and another 50 from the interior of the U.S.S.R. They soon left for Israel and the West.
Halpern, Pinkas, index; B. Wasiutyński, Ludność żydowska w Polsce w wiekach xix i xx (1930), 85; I. Schiper, Dzieje handlu żydowskiego na żiemiach polskich (1937), index; H. Tenenbaum, Bilans handlowy Królestwa Polskiego (1916), 161; B. Brutzkus, in: Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik, 61 (1929), 275. add. bibliography: S. Spector, pk, Poland, vol. 5: Volhynia and Polesie (1990).
[Encyclopaedia Hebraica /
Shmuel Spector (2nd ed.)]