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Lev Polykovsky

Konstantin Karpekin


The town of Bogushevsk is located in Senno district. In archive documents it is often mentioned as a settlement (“shtetl”). Just like all other settlements in Belarus, Bogushevsk had its own Jewish communities. In fact, in the Soviet times Bogushevsk Jews managed to build a new prayer house, which retained an active status for several years.

In 1919 Bogushevsk had one officially registered Jewish community. By 1922 their number had increased to three. There were no synagogues, so prayers took place in private houses of Benyamin Yankelevich Gozin, Mendel Abramovich Krivosheyev and Zalman Movshevich Libkin. However, there was high demand for a prayer house. A certain Rabinovich, a Bogushevsk resident, started dealing with this issue, and in 1924 a building project was completed. On January 31st Rabinovich received an official permission to build the prayer house. It was to become the only Jewish religious building not only in Bogushevsk but also in the whole district.

Bogushevsk prayer house. Bogushevsk prayer house. Bogushevsk prayer house. Bogushevsk prayer house.
Bogushevsk prayer house in the drawing dated 1924: front and side view, rooms and location in town.

The religious life of the shtetl was rather active. In 1926-1927 there was hevra-kadisha, several melameds, who gave private lessons to Jewish children. It is noteworthy that even Bogushevsk communists took part in Passover celebrations. They did not only bake matsot but also handed out invitations to the synagogue.

Such activities, naturally, did not find support among the antireligious residents of Bogushevsk. The antireligious campaign started in the autumn of 1928 and involved the following steps: presentation of an antireligious report and issue of articles on Jewish holidays.

Soon the only synagogue in Bogushevsk and the district was closed down. It happened either at the end of 1929 or the beginning of 1930. The synagogue was turned into a recreation center.

Such was a short 5-year-long history of the synagogue in Bogushevsk. It shows that even in antireligious Soviet Belarus it was possible to open new religious buildings. Such examples were rather rare in the country and therefore are of particular historical interest.

Konstantin Karpekin,
Chief research assistant, State archive of Vitebsk region

Jewish settlements in Vitebsk region

Vitebsk Albrehtovo Babinovichi Baran Bayevo Begoml Beshenkovichi Bocheikovo Bogushevsk Borkovichi Braslav Bychiha Chashniki Disna Dobromysli Dokshitsy Druya Dubrovno Glubokoye Gorodok Kamen Kohanovo Kolyshki Kopys Krasnopolie Kublichi Lepel Liady Liozno Lukoml Luzhki Lyntupy Miory Obol Oboltsy Orsha Osintorf Ostrovno Parafianovo Plissa Polotsk Prozorki Senno Sharkovshina Shumilino Sirotino Slaveni Smolyany Surazh Tolochin Ulla Verhnedvinsk Vidzy Volyntsy Yanovichi Yezerishe Zhary Ziabki

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