Berezhany, the "Heart of Galicia"
The town of Berezhany, like so many other Galitzianer towns, has undergone many avatars, and its geo-political history is reflected in the multiplicity of town-names: Brzeżany, Brizan, Barzan, Berson, Berzhan, Brezan, Brzezhany, Bzezan, Bzhezhani, Bereschany, Berezany, and Бережани. Called the “very heart of Galicia,” Berezhany has existed under Austro-Hungarian, Polish, and Soviet dominion, and is today a city of about 20,000 people, in the Ternopil Oblast (formerly Tarnopol) of Ukraine. It is located along the Zolota Lypa (river), at 49.4500, 24.9333 - 49°27' N, 24°56' E. Pogroms forced many Berezhany Jews to emigrate at the end of the 19th century, with the Jewish population being virtually obliterated during the Holocaust.
Jews began to populate Berezhany probably in the 16th century, swelling to a population of around 100 Jewish families in the 17th century. The town became a center of Jewish learning and seat of several synagogues. The so-called large synagogue was erected there in 1718, and still stands, though it was used by various invading forces as a granary. There are some signs of restoration to the synagogue and other Jewish monuments. The Jewish cemetery was damaged during WW I, partially restored between the two World Wars, and almost completely demolished during WW II.
Probably the best-known Berezhaner is the Gaon Rabbi Sholem Mordechai Shwadron, referred to by the acronym “the Maharsham.”
Jewish population of Berezhany actually grew under Soviet rule, increasing to about 12,000 people in 1941, the bulk of them refugees fleeing wars in Europe. Nazi occupation included mass killings and deportation. The Berezhany Memorial (Yizkor) Book may be seen on JewishGen, and includes a searchable martyrs’ list. A history of the Berezhany Jewish Community’’’ is also included. There are more than 1000 records of Holocaust victims associated with Berezhany on YadVashem’’’.
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- Sholom Mordechai Schwadron, Jewish gaon lived and died here.
- David Meir Frisch, rabbi, posek and rabbinical authority.
- Samuel Hirsch Margulies, rabbi of Florence, Italy born here.
- Joseph Saul Nathanson, Polish rabbi, posek and rabbinical authority born here.
- Shlomo Kluger, The Magid of Brody, was very influential in Brzezany and the surrounding towns.
Individuals from Berezhany
- Leiser Bezahler (c.1803 - 1877)
- Abraham Leber
- Fischel Leber
- Gittel Feige Bernsohn
- Chaim Wolf Leber (c.1850 - 1894)
- Hersch Mantel (c.1882 - d.)
- Leon Mantel (c.1876 - 1963)
- Jacob Mantel (c.1872 - d.)
- Chaim Mantel (1864 - 1864)
- Riwke Mantel (1862 - 1863)
- Beile Podoszyn (Leber)
- Elias Podoszyn
- Samuel Mendel Mantel
- Celia Mantel (c.1879 - d.)
- Chaje Rubinzahl (c.1860 - d.)
- Malie Schmier (c.1868 - d.)
- Jüdische Gemeinde Bereschany
- Berezhany - Gesher Galicia
- Rabbi Shalom Mordechai Hacohen Schwadron “The Maharsham”
- Brzezaner Memorial page