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BYELAYA TZERKOV (called in Hebrew ):

Town in the government of Kiev, Russia. Its Jewish settlement must have been formed after 1550, when the waywode of Kiev, having built there a castle, attracted many inhabitants to the town by granting them numerous privileges.

The Jewish community of Byelaya Tzerkov is mentioned in the list of those given by Nathan Naṭa of Hanover as having been destroyed by the hordes of Chmielnicki in 1650 ("Yawen Meẓulah," ed. Dyhernfurth, p. 3b). As the town, however, was the stronghold of the Cossacks before 1648 (Kostomarov, "Bogdan Chmielnicki," i. 24 et seq.), it is hardly probable that the Jews could have remained until the arrival of Chmielnicki. Samuel Phoebus of Vienna, however, in his acount of the Chmielnicki persecutions ("Ṭit ha-Yawen"), mentions that 600 Jewish families were slain at Byelaya Tzerkov, which proves that the Jewish community in the town was important. From 1651 till occupied by the Russians in 1793, Byelaya Tzerkov was dominated alternately by the Cossacks and by the Poles, and could scarcely have had a large Jewish population.

Its importance as a Jewish community dates from the end of the eighteenth century, when it numbered about 12,000 Jews in a population of 20,700. In 1817 a Hebrew printing-office was established there, from which many Hebrew books were issued. The first work published was a book of sermons for Ḥanukkah and Purim, entitled "Or he-Ḥadash." Byelaya Tzerkov now (1902) has a synagogue and seven houses of prayer, the greater part of its Jews belonging to the Ḥasidic sect. The Jewish population in 1898 was about 9,000 out of a total of 22,703.

Bibliography:
  • Gurland, Le-ḳorot ha-Gezerot he-Yisrael, in Oẓar ha-Sifrut, vols. iii., iv., v.;
  • Regesty, 1648, No. 875;
  • Harkavy, in Sbornik, 1896, p. 105;
  • Semenov, s.v.
H. R. I. Br.
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