Shpola – Шпола (Ukrainian), Shpole, שפּאָלע (Yiddish)

Shpola is a town in Cherkassy region, a center of Shpola district, a geographical center of Ukraine. 18,112 lived in the town in 2011.

Before the Revolution, Shpola was a town of Zvenigorod Uezd of Kiev gubernia.

I could find very little information about the history of Shpola Jewish community before 1917 🙁

The heyday of the Jewish shtetl and its emergence as a Hasidic center in the 18th century were connected with the tzadik Shpoler Zeide (“the grandfather from Shpola”).

Rabbi Yehudah Aryeh Leib ben Boruch (Saba from Shpola), also known as (1725, Uman – 1812, Shpola) – (‘grandfather’-a nickname given to him by the Baal Shem Tov at his circumcision), is famed as a miracle worker and devoted to the succour of poor Jews in distress. In his early years, he was a disciple of Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz, a leading figure in the first generation of Chassidim. The Shpoler Zeide was a key opponent of Rabbi Nahman of Bratzlav.

Old ohel of Shpoler Zeide before reconstrruction in 2014
Old ohel of Shpoler Zeide before reconstruction in 2014

The sons of Rabbi Arieh Leib did not become Chassidic leaders. They settled in Shpola, and three of them were buried beside their father. At the request of the Shpoler Zeide, there is no tombstone at his grave, but a big box with the date of his death. Pilgrims to the site throw notes into the box.