KOBRIN (Pol.  Kobryn), city in Brest oblast, Belorussian S.S.R., formerly in Poland.  The earliest information on the Jewish community there is found in a document of 15 14 in which King Sigismund, among others, ratified its privileges.  In 1563 the names of 23 Jews are mentioned as holding 25 houses, as well as about 20 orchards and vegetable gardens, and a synagogue.  In 1589, the Jews were accorded equal rights with the other inhabitants.  The Jews of Kobrin mainly earned their livelihood from local and interurban trade with Lublin, the leasing of inns, and the collection of custom duties.  During the *Chmielnicki massacres of 1648-49, a number of Jews from the Ukraine took refuge in Kobrin.  When the city became impoverished during the 18th century, the economic situation of the
Jews also deteriorated and the community incurred considerable debts.  Most of the local Jews in this period were engaged in peddling and various crafts, while a wealthy minority continued to trade in salt, cereals, and timber.  In 1766 there were 924 Jews in Kobrin and the surrounding villages who paid poll tax.  Spiritual leaders of Kobrin included *Bezalel b. Solomon of Kobryn (d. 1678), and Jacob b. David Shapira (d, 1718), author of Ohel Ya'akov (Frankfort on the Oder, 1729), av bet din of Kobrin, who founded a yeshivah.

During the 19th century the Jewish population of Kobrin and the surrounding townlets increased.  There were 4,184 Jews living in Kobrin and approximately 5,000 in the vicinitv in 1847.  In 1882 Jews were prohibited from leasing farms and rural buildings.  The introduction of the government monopoly on liquor distilling in 1897 severely affected Jewish economic activity in Kobrin.  As a result, a Jewish proletariat emerged in Kobrin.  Many emigrated, especially to America.  The Jewish population numbered 6,687 in 1897 (69% of the total).  During the 19th century, Hasidism, led by the dynasty of *Kobrin, was influential in the community.  Hayyim Berlin (the son of Naphtali Zevi Judah *Berlin) served as rabbi there.  Zionism at first encountered violent opposition from the local Orthodox circles.  After the revolution of 1905 Jewish workers, mainly organized in the *Bund and later the *Po'alei Zion, took an active part in the struggle for political, social, and cultural rights.  The, community had modernized hadarim, as well as a religious school, a *Tarbut school, a Yiddish school of the Central Yiddish School Organization (CYSHO), and a yeshivah.  The community numbered 5,431 (c. 66% of the total) in 1921.  Most of them were employed in construction, linen manufacture, embroidering, porterage, haulage, shopkeeping, and retail trade in agricultural produce. [A.Cy.]

Holocaust Period.  Soon after the outbreak of World War II, on Sept. 20, 1939, the Soviets took the city.  The Zionist youth there tried to reach Vilna which was then in independent Lithuania, whence many of them continued on to Palestine.  Many refugees from western Poland arrived in Kobrin, and by 1941 the Jewish population reached 8,000.  On June 24, 1941, two days after the war had broken out between Germany and the Soviet Union, the Germans captured Kobrin.  Soon after the occupation, the bet ha-midrash Hayyei Adam was set on fire.  At the same time, about 170 Jews were murdered not far from,the village of Patryki.  In August 1941 the Germans imposed a fine of 6 kg of gold and 12 kg of silver on the Jews.  In the fall of the same year a ghetto was set up, It was divided into two
sections: part A for those fit for work, and part B for the ill, aged, and all those considered unfit for work.  Jews from the neighboring towns of Hajnowka and Bialowieza were also brought to the ghetto, which was greatly overcrowded.  Early in 1942 the community had to supply workers for the labor camps of Chodosy and Zaprudy.  On June 2, 1942, ghetto B was surrounded, and a Selektion was carried out in ghetto A. All victims were put to death in Bronna Gora.  Half of the Jewish community of Kobrin perished on that day.  The youth organized and began to collect ammunition.  On Oct. 14, 1942, another Aktion took place about 2.5 mi. (4 km.) from Kobrin on the road to Dywin.  The Jews attempted active self-defense, the Germans were attacked, and attempts were made to take their arms.  A group of about 100 persons managed to escape to the forests and joined the partisans.  They were active in the Voroshilov and Suvorov partisan units.  A group of Jewish craftsman was held in Kobrin until the summer of 1943 and then murdered in the prison courtyard.  After the war, the community was not revived.  A few survivors left Kobrin for Poland and then continued to Israel or other countries.  [A.W.]

Bibliography: Dokumenty i regesty k istorici litovskikh yevreyev, 1 (1882), no. 62; Russko-yevreyskiy arkhiv, 2(1882), nos. 179, 180, 185; S. Dubnow (ed.), Pinkas ha-Medinah (1925), index; B. Wasiutynski, Ludnosc zydowska w Polsce (1930), 80, 83, 88, 192, 202, 211; B. Schwarz and I. H. Biletzky (eds.), Sefer Kobrin, Megillat Haryyim ve-Hurban (1951).