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POLTAVA:

Table of Contents

Government of Little Russia, which came under Russian domination in 1764, and whose present organization was established in 1802. It has a Jewish population of 111,417, the total population being 2,780,427 (census of 1897). See table at end of article.

Poltava:

Capital of the above-named government. It had a small Jewish community, almost entirely Ḥasidic, before Jews from Lithuania, Poland, and other parts of Russia began to arrive there in larger numbers after the great "Ilyinskaya" fair had been transferred to that city from Romny in 1852. A Sabbath- and Sunday-school for Jewish apprentices was established there in 1861 ("Ha-Karmel," Russian Supplement, 1861, Nos. 46-47). Aaron Zeitlin then held the position of "learned Jew" under the governor of Poltava.

The anti-Ḥasidim, or Mitnaggedim, soon increased in numbers, and erected a synagogue for themselves about 1870. In 1863 Aryeh Löb Seidener (b. 1838; d. in Poltava Feb. 24, 1886) became the government rabbi, and during the twenty-three years in which he held the position he was instrumental in establishing various educational and benevolent institutions and in infusing the modern spirit into the community. He was assisted in his efforts by the teachers Michael Zerikower, Eliezer Ḥayyim Rosenberg, Abraham Nathansohn, and other progressive men. In 1890 Aaron Gleizer, son-in-law of Lazar Zweifel, was chosen to succeed Seidener. Eliezer Akibah Rabinovich (b. Shilel, government of Kovno, May 13, 1862), whose project of holding a rabbinical conference in Grodno in 1903 aroused intense opposition, has been rabbi of Poltava since 1893. One of the assistant rabbis, Jacob Mordecai Bezpalov, founded a yeshibah there. Poltava has a Talmud Torah for boys (250 pupils), with a trade-school connected with it, and a corresponding institution for girls. It has a Jewish home for the aged (16 inmates in 1897), a Hebrew literary society, and several charitable and Zionist organizations. The most prominent among the Maskilim or progressive Hebrew scholars who have resided in Poltava was Ezekiel b. Joseph Mandelstamm (born in Zhagory, government of Kovno, in 1812; died in Poltava April 13, 1891), author of the Biblical onomasticon "Oẓar ha-Shemot" (Warsaw, 1889), with a "Sefer ha-Millu'im," or supplement, which was printed posthumously in 1894. He was the father of Dr. Max Mandelstamm of Kiev. Michel Gordon's well-known Yiddish song beginning "Ihr seit doch, Reb Yud, in Poltava gewen" is a humorous allusion to the moral pitfalls in the way of pious Jews of the older Polish communities who settled in the liberal-minded Poltava. The writer Alexander Süsskind Rabinovich, A. M. Boruchov (contributor to "Ha-Shiloaḥ"), and Benzion Mirkin (journalist) are residents of Poltava. Among the prominent Jews of Poltava in early times were the families of Zelenski, Portugalov, and Warshavski. The city has a total population of 53,060, of whom 7,600 are Jews.

Krementchug:

City in the government of Poltava, on the left bank of the Dnieper. It now (1905) includes the suburb of Kryukov on the opposite bank, and has the largest Jewish community in the government, 35,179—or about 60 percent of the total population of the city (1897). It was the first of the important cities of southwestern Russia to which Jews from Lithuania and Poland began to flock about the middle of the nineteenth century. Even in the calamitous years 1881-82, when anti-Jewish riots occurred in the government of Poltava, numerous Jews from other places went to Krementchug, where the local Jewish community raised for them a relief fund of about 40,000 rubles.

Synagogue at Poltava, Russia.(From a photograph.)

R. Isaac of Krementchug, who died there Dec., 1833, was among the earliest Ḥasidim of that city. Next in importance was Abraham Fradkin (to whom Jacob Lapin addressed a letter which appears in his "Ḳeset ha-Sofer," pp. 11-12, Berlin, 1857). Other prominent men in the Jewish communitywere: Lipavski, Zlatopolski, Michael Ladyzhenski, Sergei (Shmere) Rosenthal, David Sack (son of Ḥayyim Sack of Zhagory), and Solomon, Marcus, and Vasili Rosenthal.

Among those who went to Krementchug in 1864 was Herman Rosenthal, who established a printing-office there in 1869, and organized a circle of Maskilim, among whom were Eliezer Schulmann, J. S. Olschwang, L. and M. Jakobovich, and M. Silberberg (see Zederbaum, "Massa Ereẓ," in "Ha-Meliẓ," 1869, No. 1). Rosenthal published the first work of M. Morgulis on the Jewish question, "Sobraniye Statei" (1869), the first almanac of Krementchug, and many other works. He was for eight years a member of the city council (1870-78), and it was owing to his efforts that the Realnoye Uchilishche (Realgymnasium) was built in 1872. The best-known rabbi of Krementchug was Joseph b. Elijah Tumarkin, who died there in 1875. After his death the Mitnaggedim elected Meïr Löb Malbim as rabbi, but he died while on his way to assume the position (Sept., 1879), and the candidate of the Ḥasidim of Lubavich, Hirsch Tumarkin, the brother and son-in-law of Meïr's predecessor, was elected to the position. The government rabbis were Freidus (1865), Mochan (1867-71), a son-in-law of Seidener of Melitopol, Ch. Berliner, and Freidenberg (who was reelected in 1899). The present (1905) rabbi is Isaac Joel Raphalovich.

Krementchug has numerous synagogues and the usual educational and charitable institutions, including a Talmud Torah, with a trade-school in connection with it, founded by Mendel Seligman; a hospital, with a home for aged persons ("Ha-Meliẓ," 1890, No. 139); the society Maskil el Dal (founded 1898); and several Zionist organizations. It is the most important business and industrial center in the government.

About a dozen other cities and towns in the government of Poltava contain Jewish communities, those of Pereyaslavl and Romny being among the largest.

Bibliography:
  • Keneset Yisrael, i. 1124;
  • Ha-Meliẓ, 1883, No. 96;
  • 1890, No. 7;
  • Ha-Shaḥar, vi. 215-218, ix. 183 et seq.;
  • Eisenstadt-Wiener, Da'at Ḳedoshim, p. 26, St. Petersburg, 1897-98;
  • Ha-Ẓefirah, 1897, No. 14.
H. R. P. Wi.Population of Poltava Government in 1897.
District.Total Population.Jewish Population.Percentage.
Gadyach142,7973,2332.26
Khorol174,7293,7802.16
Kobelyaki217,8763,4481.58
Konstantinograd232,5651,9380.84
Krementchug242,48235,17914.51
Lokhvitza151,2184,5663.02
Lubny136,6064,5273.31
Mirgorod157,7273,0461.93
Pereyaslavl185,38910,0795.44
Piryatin164,1274,9873.00
Poltava227,81411,8955.22
Priluki192,5078,0554.18
Romny186,4827,1453.83
Zenkov140,4531,8391.31
Zolotonoshi227,6557,7003.38
_______________________________________
Total in government2,780,427111,4174.02
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