A city in Russia; capital of the government of the same name. The Jewish settlement at Chernigov is one of the oldest of the Ukraine. In the thirteenth century a rabbi, Isaac (Itze) of Chernigov, is mentioned, who spoke the Russian language. (Harkavy,"Yevrei i Slavyanskie Yazyky," p. 11). In 1623 King Ladislaus banished the Jews from the "voyevodstvos" (military districts) of Chernigov and Syeversk. The cause was probably jealousy on the part of the Christian merchants and tradesmen; the edict declaring that the Jews caused great damage to their business. However, soon after 1623 the Jews again came to Chernigov. In 1648, at the time of Chmielnicki's revolt, the whole Jewish population of Chernigov was exterminated by the Cossacks.
In the later histories of Chernigov indications are found of the hostility of the people toward the Jews. Thus, in 1665 the noblemen of Chernigov sent an embassy to the Council of Warsaw, mentioning in their instructions that justice called for the expulsion of the dishonest Jews from the country, or at least for the imposition of a Jewish poll-tax.
According to the census of 1897 there were in the town of Chernigov about 11,000 Jews in a total population of 27,006. The chief occupations of the Jews are industrial and commercial. In the neighborhood many tobacco-plantations and fruit-gardens are owned by Jews. There are in Chernigov 1,321 Jewish artisans, including 404 tailors and seamstresses, but the demand for artisan labor is limited to the town. There are 69 Jewish (day-laborers, almost exclusively teamsters. But few are engaged in the factories.
The small charitable institutions of Chernigov were combined, in 1899, in the Committee of Relief for the Jewish Poor; but the different trade groups of the Jewish population have their own charitable institutions also. Thus the bakers, storekeepers, teamsters, tailors, and "melammedim" (teachers of Hebrew) have separate funds from which loans with out interest, and, in cases of necessity, gratuitous help, are obtained.
The Jewish educational establishments include a Talmud Torah (115 pupils); a primary school for boys (40 pupils); a private school for girls (57 pupils); and there are 45 ḥadarim, where about 450 boys and 70 girls are taught Hebrew.
- Regesty i Nadpisi, i. 403, 404, 466;
- Budushchnost, 1900, No. 42.