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Jews in Chernivtsi, Ukraine

Chernivtsi is the center of the region of the same name in Ukraine. The city was founded in the XII century. Until the 18th century, it was part of the Moldavian principality, then Austria. From 1918 to 1940 - part of Romania.

The settlement of Jews has been known since the 15th century. Ashkenazi Jews came to the city from Poland, and Sephardi Jews from Moldavia. In the 17th - 18th centuries, the Jewish population increased at the expense of refugees from the Ukrainian lands.

In the 18th century, a qahal administration, the first synagogue and a Jewish cemetery appeared in Chernivtsi. At the time of the city's transition to Austrian control in the mid-1770s, more than 500 Jewish families lived in it.

The Austrian authorities introduced restrictive measures that were formally in effect until the revolution of 1848. More than 300 Jewish families were expelled from the city. Only Jewish artisans were allowed to settle in Chernivtsi.

Since the 1860s, the Austro-Hungarian authorities not only lifted restrictive measures, but also encouraged the resettlement of Jews to the city, believing that they would become the conductors of German culture due to the similarity of Yiddish and German. In the second half of the 1860s, Chernivtsi Jews received full civil rights and the right of representation in the Landtag of Bukovina.

Jews played an important role in the urban economy and culture. From the 1890s until the outbreak of the First World War, five rectors of the university in Chernivtsi were Jews. Before World War II, the city was one of the centers of Jewish publishing. Here were published rabbinic and kabbalistic books, periodicals in Yiddish.

Supporters of the Haskalah and Hasidim peacefully coexisted in the city. Since the 1870s, the position of the city rabbi was occupied by a supporter of reformism, and the position of the rabbinical court - by an orthodox.

In the twentieth century, the city became one of the centers of Zionism. The first Zionist congress was attended by three Chernivtsi Jews.

The community suffered during the first (1914-1918) and second (1940-1941) Russian occupation, when the invaders closed all national institutions.

40% of the Jews of Chernivtsi survived the Holocaust. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Soviet government continued to persecute Jews. The Great Synagogue was closed, and the Jewish cemetery was turned into a common one.