BERDYANSK (in 1827–30 Kutur-ogly, in 1830–42 Novo-Nogaisk, in 1939–58 Osipenko), town in the Zaporozhie region of the Ukraine. Berdyansk was founded as a village by order of the governor-general of Novorossia, Count M.S. Vorontsov, whose attitude to Jews was fairly liberal. In 1842 it became a district capital. From the beginning the Jews formed part of its population, employed as tailors and merchants. In 1847 the Jewish population was 572 and in 1860 a Talmud Torah school was founded. In 1864, 703 Jews were registered in the town and 744 in the district. In April 1881, concerned over anti-Jewish acts in the wake of the assassination of Alexander II (see pogroms ), the Jews requested the authorities to dispatch troops to prevent pogroms. In 1890 there were three Jewish schools in Berdyansk. A vocational branch of the Talmud Torah was also founded. According to the 1897 census the number of Jews in the town was 3,306 (including 258 karaites ), i.e., 12.9% of the total population; while in the district it was 9,171 (3% of the population). During World War I new schools were opened for the children of the Jewish refugees from the frontline area. In the period of the Civil War Berdyansk changed hands a number of times and the Jewish population suffered from violence and pillage. In June 1920 seven members of the Jewish Communist Party, Po'alei Zion , volunteered for the Red Army. According to the 1926 census there were 2,138 Jews in Berdyansk in 1926 and 2,393 in 1939 (4.6% of the population). Berdyansk was occupied by German troops in October 1941. About a thousand Jews were shot in a gorge near the town; the rest were annihilated in 1942. Little is known about Jewish life under subsequent Soviet rule. However, in the early 1990s a Jewish cultural society was founded and a synagogue congregation was active. According to the jewish agency there were 2,000 Jews in Berdyansk in 1994 (1.3% of the total population). (Naftali Prat (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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