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OVRUCH , city in Zhitomir district, Ukraine. The first information on the Jews, in a document of 1629, mentions three families in the town. Until 1750 the community was dependent on the taxation imposed on the community of *Chernobyl. A court ordered that Ovruch be separated from Lithuania and annexed to the province of Volhynia. According to the census of 1765, there were 607 Jews in Ovruch and its environs who paid the poll tax. There were 1,773 Jews in 1847 and 3,445 (46.5% of the total population) in 1897. The end of the 18th century witnessed the spread of Ḥasidism in Ovruch and its environs. Abraham Dov *Baer, a student of Mordecai of Chernobyl, served as av bet din. In the second half of the 19th century, two members of the *Shneersohn family served as rabbis.

During the Russian Revolution the Jews of Ovruch were attacked several times. At the end of 1918 the Ukrainian hetman, Kozyz-Zyrko entered the town and in the course of 17 days plundered all the Jewish homes, killing 80 people. With the introduction of Soviet rule the religious and communal life of the Jews was paralyzed. In 1926 there were 3,400 Jews in Ovruch (53% of the total population). In the mid 1930s 26% of the Jewish earners were factory workers; 33%, white collar workers; and 30%, artisans, most of them organized in cooperatives in which they constituted the majority of members. In 1939 the Jews numbered 3,862 (33% of the total population). The town was occupied by the Germans on August 22, 1941; presumably many Jews succeeded to escape. In September 1941 the 1stss Infantry Regiment murdered the town's Jews as well as those from the environs, according to their report 516 persons in all. In 1957 the Jews numbered there 2,200.

In 1963, on the eve of the High Holidays, the militia broke into privately held services in Ovruch, arresting five Jews; each member attending the services was fined. In the late 1960s the Jewish population was estimated at about 2,000. Most left in the 1990s.


Committee of Jewish Delegations, The Pogroms in the Ukraine… (1927), 134–40; L. Chasanowich, Der Yidisher Khurbn in Ukraine (1920), 3–20.

[Yehuda Slutsky /

Shmuel Spector (2nd ed.)]