Jews in Zhytomyr, Ukraine
Zhytomyr is the regional center of Ukraine. The settlement appeared here in the second half of the 9th century, and the city was first mentioned in the chronicles in 1240. During the stay of the city under the jurisdiction of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Jews were officially prohibited from settling within the city. Although written sources indicate that in the 1620s, a certain Shlema Moiseevich received a part of the Zhytomyr eldership on lease.
Jews settled in Zhytomyr from the beginning of the 18th century. Although the prohibition on settlement was officially lifted only by 1792, according to written sources, in 1798, Jews owned 253 out of 758 houses. They made up one third of the local population.
Half a century later, in 1847, there were 9.5 thousand Jews in Zhytomyr. In the spring of 1854, an official prohibition was issued for Jews to live in the central part of the city. At the same time, the document said that Jews could acquire land and build houses in order to then rent them out. Three years later, the prohibition was lifted and the city center became the seat of Jewish trading and banking institutions.
According to statistics, in the second half of the 19th century, the share of Jews in urban trade reached 90%, and in handicraft production - 60%.
Zhytomyr was the center of Jewish cultural life not only in the region, but also in the country. Since 1845, the Shapiro printing house, the second after the Vilna Jewish printing house in the empire, operated here.
Most of Zhytomyr Jews professed Hasidism. However, from 1847 to 1873, a rabbinical school operated in the city, which became the stronghold of the Haskala in the region.
By the end of the 19th century, there were 31,000 Jews in the city. They made up 46% of the urban population. Since the beginning of the 20th century, 54 cheders, a women's vocational school, a Talmud Torah, five women's private Jewish schools and a Jewish library have worked in the city.
During the revolutionary events of 1917-1921, Zhytomyr Jews became victims of pogroms several times. In the 1920s, the city experienced a short-term flourishing of national and cultural institutions, which ended by the mid-1930s. By 1929, Jews made up a third of the local population. According to statistics, 30.6 thousand people lived in the city.
During the Holocaust, according to official data alone, 9.6 thousand Zhytomyr Jews were killed. In 1959, Jews made up only 14% of the population. Three decades later, their share in the urban population dropped to 3.7%. By the beginning of the XXI century, 2.7 thousand Jews lived in Zhytomyr and the region.