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BERSHAD:

Town in the district of Olgopol, province of Podolia, Russia, on the road between Olgopol and Balta, at the rivers Dakhna and Bershadka. In 1900 the Jewish population was 4,500, out of a total population of 7,000. The Jewish artisans numbered about 500. The community possessed one synagogue and six houses of prayer. In June, 1648, during the uprising of the Cossacks under Chmielnicky, the most bloodthirsty of his leaders—Maksim Krivonos—conquered Bershad and slew all the Jews and Catholics. S. A. Bershadski, the celebrated historian of the Russian Jews. descended from a Cossack family at Bershad, where his great-grandfather officiated as a Greek Orthodox priest.

Bershad was famous in the middle of the nineteenth century for its Jewish weavers of the "ṭallit" (scarfs used by the Jews during prayer in the day-time). But at the end of the century the demand decreased, and the industry declined, leading many of the weavers to emigrate to America.

Bibliography:
  • Entziklopedicheski Slovar, vol. iii., s.v., published by Brockhaus and Efron, St. Petersburg, 1892;
  • N. Kostomarov, Bogdan Chmielnicky, i. 325; and private sources.
H. R.
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