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Location: Vinnytsia Province, Ukrainemap
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Alternative transliterations/spellings:

  • Russian: Shargorod, Sharigrod
  • Ukrainian: Sharhorod, Sharigrod
  • Polish: Szargorod, Szarogrod
  • Hebrew: Sargorog

Location: Shargorod is located at 48.45 N latitude and 28.05 E longitude, about 40 miles southwest of Vinnitsa (Vinnytsia), in what now is the Ukraine. It sits roughly 800 feet above sea level, but is quite hilly with elevation changes of 250 feet in all directions within 1.5 miles of the town's center. The Eastern Carpathian (Rodna) mountains begin rising about 125 miles to the southwest and reach 7500 feet 175 miles away (Pietrosul and Ineu peaks).

Geopolitical History: Shargorod was part of the Russian Empire during the childhood of Bernard and Edward Goliger. It was acquired by Russia in 1793 as a result of the Second Partition of Poland, becoming part of Russia's Pale of Settlement. Here's how that happened:

Around 1570 Poland and Lithuania formed a union (Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth) that was politically ahead of its time, featuring relative religious tolerance and a parliament (of nobles) that elected their monarch. However, it began to weaken after roughly 75 years, and 125 years later it was torn into pieces, in three stages from 1772-1795, by its powerful neighbors Prussia, Austria, and Russia as they tried to maintain a balance of power. (See the Three Partitions of Poland-Lithuania). The second partitioning occurred during George Washington's presidency, the French Revolution, and soon after the Commonwealth's May 1791 Constitution enfranchised the bourgeoisie, organized it's government into three separate branches, and scared monarchists like Catherine the Great with the possibility that a democratic tide had swept from America, thru France, to their door step in Poland. As a consequence, Shargorod became part of the Russian Empire, and remained therein until the empire collapsed after the two Russian Revolutions of 1917. Thereafter, Shargorod was part of various incarnations of the Ukraine.

Here are relevant historical maps arranged from the broadest to narrowest:

Following the history of the Jews and their fellow citizens in Shargorod, Podolia, Poland, Russia, the Ukraine, not to mention Austro-Hungary, is particularly difficult because the same land repeatedly changed hands, cultures, languages, laws, dominant religions, and political jurisdictions over the course of the last millenia (and before). Focusing for the time being on the last factor, it is helpful to understand Russia and other Slavic states have had similar names for their many regional and local political units. These units have undergone fairly regular redefinition, promotion and demotion, as well as increases in their numbers, as territories have changed hands or been found problematic. Very generally speaking, a krai, guberniya, or an oblast represented a higher level political unit, and an uyezd or raion represented a lower level, with an okrug falling in between. However, a krai often comprised a few guberniyas or oblasts which, in turn, might comprise a few okrugs; and an uyezd might contain several volosts. See the Administrative Divisions of Russia and the Ukraine, as well as Miriam Wiener's list.

In any case, in 1708, Peter the Great reorganized Russia's uyezds (larger districts) and volosts (smaller rural districts) into eight guberniyas (governorates/provinces). Over the years nearly 90 guberniyas were created in Tsarist Russia. One of them, in the far southwest of the Russian Empire, was named Podolia and was about twice the size of New Jersey. Shargorod generally was located within the Mogilev or Vinnitsia uyezd of the Podolia guberniya from the Second Partition of Poland (1793), thru the Russian Revolutions, and across several incarnations of communist Ukraine (1917-25). [1] [2] Currently, it is the center of Shargorodski raion in the Ukrainian oblast Vinnytsia.

Note before the Second Partion of Poland, Shargorod was in the the Polish province/voivodeship also named Podolia, which at that time already had existed for roughly four centuries. Podolia itself has been partioned and traded between Poland, Austro-Hungary, Russia, the Ukraine, and others. (See the historical region of Podolia).

History of Jews in the Ukraine: The U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad [3] was created in 1985 because: "The destruction, desecration, and deterioration of properties under the Nazis persisted under subsequent Communist regimes. Additionally, Cold War tensions hindered access by Americans who wanted to ensure preservation of the sites." The Commission's duties are to: "(1) identify and report on cemeteries, monuments, and historic buildings in Eastern and Central Europe that are associated with the heritage of U.S. citizens, particularly endangered properties, (2) obtain, in cooperation with the Dept. of State, assurances from the governments of the region that the properties will be protected and preserved, ... (3) seek the preservation of similar types of properties, including related archival material." [4] [5]

For five years, starting in late 1994, more than one dozen individuals who were part of the Jewish Preservation Committee of Ukraine (JPCU) visited hundreds of Jewish sites thru-out the Ukraine in order to catalog their location and condition. In 2005 they published their findings for the U.S. Commission as Jewish Cemeteries, Synagogues, and Mass Grave Sites in Ukraine. [6] Pages 13-16 of that report serve as the basis for the following history of Jews in what currently is Ukrainian territory:

Jews lived along the Ukrainian coast of the Black Sea in Greek and Roman times, from the 1st thru 4th centuries, and have probably lived elsewhere in the territory of Ukraine continuously since the 10th century. They played a significant role in the 12th century Khazar Khaganate centered on the Crimea. At the same time, Jews entered the territory of Ukraine from western Europe in the wake of the expansion of the Teutonic Knights and other Christian forces. Jews also migrated to Ukraine from the east due to persecution by Russian and Byzantine Orthodox clergy. In both cases they tended to relocate to cities in the western portion of the country. By 1447, a Jewish community was established in Sambir, and soon afterward Jews settled in Uzhgorod, which became a Jewish religious center. Predominantly Jewish towns (shtetls) also began to appear on Ukrainian territory in the 15th century when portions of the territory was controlled by Poland and the Polish aristocracy encouraged Jews to settle there. By the end of the 16th century, there were about 45,000 Jews in the regions now constituting Ukraine.

The most active period of migration to western Ukraine was in the 16th and 17th centuries when the region still was under Polish rule. The Polish nobility invited Jews to help manage their estates and, in the process, Jews began to develop as a middle class situated between the "foreign" nobles and local serfs. This engendered resentment that, when coupled with pro-Christian sentiment, eventually spawned a series of pogroms, one of whose destructiveness (Khmelnytsky) was second only to the Holocaust. Nevertheless, by the 17th century, Jews began to regularly settle in eastern Ukraine, as well. By the mid-19th century, almost 600,000 Jews lived in the parts of modern Ukraine under Russian rule. Many more lived in the sections which then were part of Austro-Hungary (namely today's Zakarpatska, Lvivska, Ivano-Frankivska, and Ternopilska oblasts).

In 1791, Empress Catherine II initiated the creation of the Jewish Pale – the territory where "Russian" Jews were allowed to settle and pursue a range of economic activities. However, starting in 1817, Jews within the Pale generally were forced to live in shtetls. This was particularly true in the western guberniyas of Galicia, Volhynia, and Podolia. In addition, Jews were prohibited from settling in the northeast region of Ukrainian Russia called Slobozhanshina ("free lands"). (See the historical regions of Ukraine). At roughly the same time an organized, official attempt to settle Jews as farmers in the south and southeastern portions of Ukrainian Russia produced successful Jewish agricultural colonies (koloniya), particularly in the Kherson guberniya just north of Crimea. Jews also were allowed to live in big towns such as Kiev, Kharkov, and Odessa, if they met certain financial and social qualifications. Thus, despite restrictions, during most of the 19th century Jews played a prominent role in the development of agriculture, commerce and industry within Ukrainian Russia, and especially in the growth of its major cities.

Much of this changed after the 1881 assassination of Tsar Alexander II. The "May Laws" implemented in 1882 generally forbade Jews from purchasing farm land, restricted educational opportunities, and relocated Jews from Russia's great cities to Pale towns with populations greater than 10,000.

By the beginning of the 20th century, Jews lived in almost every town in Ukrainian Russia, with the largest population located in the western and southwestern areas. More than one-third of all Jews in western and central Ukraine lived in towns or shtetls where they formed an absolute majority. They also constituted one-third of the total urban population of what now is the Ukraine.

The brutal pogroms of 1881-82, triggerd by the assassination of Tsar Alexander II, were carried out mostly in Ukrainian Russia. These atrocities and economic hardship stimulated substantial Jewish emigration from the region to the United States and other countries. In 1903, there was a particularly brutal pogrom in Kishinev (now Chisinau, the capital of Moldova), 125 miles south of Shargorod, followed by more pogroms in 1905-06. As a result, the most intense emigration to the U.S. took place after 1903.

The Russian Revolution and the Civil War of 1918-21 brought the greatest violence against Jews in the Ukraine since the Khmelnytsky (Chmielnicki) pogroms in the 17th century. Estimates put the Jewish death count at 35,000, with over 100,000 left homeless. This is the period when Joe Goliger was sent back to retrieve his mother, two youngest brothers, and others.

Brief History of Jews in Shargorod (and Podolia): Jewish Cemeteries, Synagogues, and Mass Grave Sites in Ukraine lists three Jewish cemeteries in Shargorod in various states of repair:

  • Survey No. UA01250101: This cemetery is located directly off the Muravskoe highway after the bridge on the outskirts of town. More than 5000 Hasidic and Sephardic Orthodox Jews were buried there from 1590-1970. The cemetery was vandalized during WWII, but less than 25% of the head stones are toppled or broken (as of 10/23/1994).
  • Survey No. UA01250102: This cemetery is located on Lenina Street. Less than 500 Hasidic Jews were buried there from the 17th and into the 19th century. It has been vandalized frequently over the last ten years with 25-50% of the head stones toppled or broken (as of 7/24/1995).
  • Survey No. UA01250103: This cemetery is located after the bridge on the outskirts of town. It was established in 1958 and has less than 500 stones, but none have been toppled or broken. It currently is in use (as of 7/24/1995).

In September 2011 Mindy Kearns gave Bob Adler printed copies of the three surveys, which she received from Ramona Goliger in 2001. [7] They indicate a Jewish community has existed in Shargorod since the 16th century, and has suffered thru the following major events:

Fortunately, Shargorod managed to escape the pogroms triggerd by the 1881 assasination of Tsar Alexander II, as well as the pogroms from 1903-06.

The surveys also found the following (Hasidically) noteworthy Jews (Tzadikim) lived (or were buried) in Shargorod:

  • Naphtaly Herz
  • Jacob Joseph
  • (Rabbi) Lopata Olter
  • Shonic Avrum (lived and buried in UA01250102)
  • Shlema Shmulevich (buried in UA01250102)
  • Gersh Leybovich (buried in UA01250102)

Note Shargorod is a little more than 50 miles southeast of Medzhybizh, Ukraine, home of Baal Shem Tov (Israel Ben Eliezer) and Hasidic Judaism. Clearly Shargorod had a significant Jewish community by 1600 that, after 1750, included plenty of Hasidim. A very solid, ("fortress") synagogue still exists in Shargorod. Structurally it follows the "bimah-support" design, so-called because the columns or piers surrounding the bimah bay actually help support the ceiling vault. This sort of masonry synagogue became widespread in central Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries, and the Shargorod synagogue is perhaps the earliest extant example of this type in present-day Ukraine, probably being built in 1589. [8].

In 1765 the Jewish community in Shargorod numbered 2,210, then the largest in Podolia. It rose to 3,570 in 1847, and 3,859 (73% of the total) in 1897. In 1926 the community numbered 2,697 (55.9% of the total), 1,664 (74.6%) in 1939, and 2,971 in 1943. Today Shargorod has a population of ~8000 people with very few Jews. Most left in the 1990s after the Ukraine gained its independence from the Soviet Union. [9] [10] [11] [12] [13]

The 1897 (Russian) census found Jews accounted for ~12.3% (370,000) of Podolia's population of 3.02 million, and ~46% (102,000) of Podolia's urban population of 222,000. That means ~9.6% ((370-102)/(3019-222)) of Podolia's rural population was Jewish. At that time there were almost 90 synagogues and over 400 shuls in the governate. The primary language of Podolia's total population was 81% Ukrainian, 12% Yiddish, 3% Russian, and 2% Polish. [14]

Wanna know a little more...

...about the history of Jews in Shargorod? [15]

...about the history of Jews in Podolia? [16] [17] [18]

...about the history of Jews in the Ukraine and/or Poland? [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25]

...about the Pale of Settlement? [26] [27] [28]

For a lot more information see Miriam Weiner's 1999 book Jewish Roots in Ukraine and Moldova: Pages from the Past and Archival Inventories. [29] Also see Charles Hoffman's 2002 book Red Shtetl. The Survival of a Jewish Town under Soviet Communism.

Check the following if you'd like to know more about the Holocaust in Vinnytsia oblast where Shargorod is located: [30]

And remember you can see photos of Shargorod by searching Google Images, [31] or on Google Earth (make sure the Photo option is checked under Layers>PrimaryDatabase).

P.S. By 1821 Tsar Alexander I ordered Jews to take surnames. These, as a rule, originated from the names of places where Jews lived (Vinnitsky from Vinnytsia, etc.) or from their occupation--e.g. Masnik (butcher).