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Jews in Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi

The city located in the south of Ukraine used to be called Akkerman (until 1944). For the first time, Akkerman Jews are mentioned in documents of 1591. But the mass influx of Jews to the fortified city took place in the 19th century, when Jews from other regions of the Russian Empire began to arrive in Bessarabia, where the Pale of Settlement was established for them. The first prayer house in Akkerman opened in 1815. The establishment of the Talmud Torah dates back to 1882, the same year the first Jewish hospital was opened. In 1895, the city had a male and female school, an orphanage, a Jewish Sabbath school, and a savings and loan society. In 1906 there were two synagogues, three private chapels and several general education schools for Jewish children. It is worth noting that most of the buildings in which they were located were built at the expense of the Jewish community.

As of the mid-1890s, the Jewish population of the city was almost 20% of all its inhabitants. As in most places where Jews lived, they were engaged in trade and small handicrafts.

In 1905, a series of pogroms swept across southern Ukraine, in particular, eight members of the Jewish community were killed in Akkerman.

As a result of the collapse of the Russian Empire, starting in 1918, Akkerman was under the jurisdiction of Romania. According to archival data, in the period from 1920 to 1939, the Jewish community of the city established several organizations that were engaged in charity and cultural and educational work among its members. At the beginning of 1940, the Jewish population of Akkerman numbered approximately 8,000 people, which was 16% of the total population. The city had five synagogues and eleven other houses belonging to the Jewish community.

In 1940, the city became part of the USSR. The new government dissolved existing Jewish organizations, and in July 1941 sent ten Jewish families to Siberia, accusing them of anti-Soviet activities. With the beginning of World War II, a significant part of the Jewish population of the city (about 4,000 people) was evacuated to the eastern regions of the USSR. The German-Romanian occupation administration, in the very first days after entering the city, took about 700 Jews to the Dniester Estuary, where they were shot by a special Sonderkommando. Several hundred more Jews were subsequently shot as well. So there were virtually none left in the city, and those who managed to escape hid in the homes of sympathetic local residents.

The forcing of the Dniester Estuary by Soviet troops in August 1944 led to the liberation of the city. In the same year, it was renamed Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi and became part of the Ukrainian SSR.

After the war, part of the Jews returned to the city. In the 1970s and 80s, most of the city's Jews emigrated to Israel or to Western countries. Nevertheless, today there is a small Jewish community in Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, a synagogue, a community of Jewish culture and a Sunday school.