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Jews in Kharkov

At the beginning of the 18th century, the Epiphany Fair was held in Kharkov. The appearance of the first Jewish merchants in the city is associated with it. By the 1780s, there was a small Jewish community headed by a rabbi. By the end of the 18th century, a Jewish cemetery was founded.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the persecution of the Jews of Kharkov began, which manifested itself in the compulsion to baptism and exclusion from economic life. So, in 1804, only wholesale operations were allowed to Jewish merchants at the fair. A year later, Christian merchants achieved the complete expulsion of the Jews.

Kharkov was not included in the Pale of Settlement, and by the 1820s, even a temporary stay in the city was forbidden to Jews. With the introduction of compulsory military service for Jews, Jewish soldiers appeared in the city.

By the 1830s, the local government realized that without Jewish merchants, the profits from the fair were diminishing and the restrictions began to be lifted. In 1835, Jewish merchants were allowed to stay in Kharkov and trade in wholesale goods of domestic production.

By the middle of the 19th century, a soldier's and merchant's synagogue operated in the city. With the founding of Kharkov University, another group of the Jewish population - students - permanently lived in the city.

Moreover, about 500 Karaites permanently lived in the city, who were not subject to the restrictions imposed by the authorities on Jews.

In the 1860s, the Kursk-Kharkov-Azov railway began to operate, which contributed to the growth of the fair's popularity. It attracted up to 20 thousand Jewish merchants.

By the end of the 1870s, the Jewish population of Kharkov was 5.1 thousand people.

Despite the introduction of a percentage rate for admission to universities and the expulsion of Jews from the city, by the end of the 19th century, 9.8 thousand Jews lived in Kharkov, accounting for 8% of the city's residents. In the first years of the twentieth century, 90% of the merchants of the first and 25% of the merchants of the second guilds of the city were Jews.

In 1913, the Choral Synagogue was built in Kharkov - the largest at that time on the territory of Ukraine and the second in Europe, after the Budapest synagogue.

During the years of the revolution, Jews occupied leading positions in the city government. Yakov Rubinstein headed the City Duma. Kharkov was the only city in Ukraine where no Jewish pogroms took place.

In 1941, Kharkov was occupied by the Nazis. During the Holocaust, up to 15 thousand Kharkov Jews were killed. In 1979, 90 thousand Jews lived in Kharkov. After 10 years - 49 thousand.

In 1990, the authorities returned the Choral Synagogue to the community. By the end of the 1990s, there were 40,000 Jews in Kharkov.