City in a district of the same name, in the government of Minsk, Russia; situated on the right bank of the River Berezina. It is mentioned the first time in official documents concerning Jews, issued in 1511. The inhabitants of Bobruisk, with those of other towns, petitioned King Sigismund to allow them to pay their taxes directly to the crown instead of the secretary of the treasury, Abraham Yesofovich. In a list of duties paid at the custom-house of Brest-Litovsk for the year 1583, a Jew named Ilya Lipshitz is mentioned as having sent merchandise to Bobruisk.
Bobruisk was of little importance until the early part of the nineteenth century, when, under Alexander I., it began to increase rapidly in population, on account of the important fortress he had erected there. It had (1898) 19,125 Jewish inhabitants in a total population of 35,177; and the district (includingthe city) has 49,858 Jews in a total of 256,095. It is a prosperous city. The commerce, consisting chiefly of dry-goods, grain, and wood, is mainly in Jewish hands.
The community is divided into Ḥasidim and Mitnagdim, who live harmoniously together. The present rabbi (1902) of the Ḥasidim is Shemariah Noah Shneierson, a descendant of the rabbis of Lyubavich. Raphael Shapiro, an excellent Talmudic scholar, is the rabbi of the Mitnagdim. Bobruisk possesses four official synagogues and many charitable and social institutions, among which the most noteworthy is a refuge for old men, which was founded by the philanthropist, Ḥayyim Boaz Rabbinowicz.
- Semenov, i. 273;
- Regesty, Nos. 242, 642;
- Keneset ha-Gedolah, ii. 95 et seq.
In the district of Bobruisk there are at least 500 persons who depend for their subsistence mainly upon the cultivation of several deciatines of the soil. Most of the dairies are in the hands of Jews (110 families), who have lost all other resources for a livelihood since the introduction of the government monopoly of the liquor trade. In the vicinity of Bobruisk there are plantations, upon which about 100 Jewish girls work in the summer. In the town are 20 small factories which employ 120 Jews. The manufacture of leather goods is considerable, many of the large workshops producing uppers for shoes for export to the neighboring towns and villages. Brick-making is also well developed. There are about 3,139 Jewish artisans, 285 tailoring establishments (employing 367 hands), and 275 shoe-and boot-making establishments (employing 165 hands). There are 444 Jewish laborers, employed chiefly in carting (1902). The following charitable institutions have been established: a Jewish hospital, a cheap kitchen, an institution for the aged, a society for the aid of the sick poor at their homes, and a "Imilat-Khasodim," which lends money without interest. Besides the general schools, attended by comparatively few Jewish children, there are also schools for Jews exclusively: two private schools for girls (300 pupils), a female technical school (160 girls), a primary public school (160 boys), and the Jewish People's Technical School (60 boys).
On May 3, 1902, a fire destroyed the greatest part of the city, and thousands of Jewish families were rendered homeless ("Budushchnost," 1902, No. 17).