Chyhyryn or Chigirin is a city and important historic site located in Cherkasy Oblast of central Ukraine. From 1648 to 1669 the city was a Hetman capital of Cossack Hetmanate and a traditional place for the appointment to the office of Hetman of Zaporizhian Host.

The Chronicles of Nathan Hannover mention that during the middle of the XVII century, the tenant in Chyhyryn was a Jew named Zacharia Sobilenko. According to one hypothesis, the Jewish tavern was more successful than the tavern of Captain Bohdan Khmelnitsky and this became the cause of his hatred toward Jews and the brutal massacres of Jewish communities.

Chigirin on pre-revolution postcard
Chigirin on pre-revolution postcard

During Khmelnitsky’s uprising, the town became the Hetman’s residence and there was no Jewish population in the area. In the late 17th century, with the restoration of the Polish authorities, a small Jewish community emerged in Chyhyryn.

In 1802, there were 16 merchants in the town, all of them Jewish.

In 1897, the population of Chyhyryn was 9,870 people, including some 3,000 Jews. The latter were mainly engaged in trade and handicrafts including 551 craftsmen, 204 tailors and 53 workers in the local tanneries. About 200 families each year applied for assistance from the community before the Passover. Of the 300 students in secondary schools in the town, 45 attended the Talmud Torah and four prayer houses operated.