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Who They Were



The coat of arms of Bobruisk, Byelorussia


ewish communities first appeared in Byelorussia in the 14th century, when it was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. They came mostly from Poland and Germany because of trade and business opportunities. The first mention of Jews in Bobruisk, which sits on the Berezina River, was in 1511. After the early 19th century, the town and its Jewish community grew quickly. By 1898, the nearly 20,000 Jews constituted  about half the population.

The village of Parichi, where this story begins, is a small town on the Berezina south of Bobruisk. Jews appeared there in the early 17th century. Many engaged in the timber trade, taking advantage of abundant forests and the natural channel offered by the river, a Dnieper tributary.

Nearby Shchedrin's 9,700 acres were purchased in 1841 by the Lubavitcher Rebbe Mendel Shneerson, who invited 300 Jewish families to settle there. Among the village's early residents was a large family named Seligman.