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Jewish heritage of Vinnytsia

More than five centuries of history of the Vinnytsia Jewish community is filled with various, sometimes tragic events. Nevertheless, the Jews made a significant contribution to the development of this city over the Southern Bug. The most active settlement of the city by Jews began towards the end of the 17th century. And if, according to the 1767 census, about 700 Jews lived in Vinnytsia, then in 1847 there were already more than 3.5 thousand of them, and in 1897 - over 11.6 thousand, which accounted for 36% of all residents. At the end of the 18th century, a Jewish quarter began to form in the city, called Yerusalimka, which still exists today.

Vinnytsia Jews were mainly engaged in handicrafts and trade. It is also known that the first crossings over the Bug River were organized by Jews. There were cloth and hat manufactories in the city, there were candle, brick and soap factories owned by Jews. By 1910, 17 synagogues, several women's and men's private schools were already operating in Vinnytsia, and the Jewish community was active.

With the beginning of the revolution of 1917 and the subsequent civil war, the Jewish community was battered by the frequent change of power, which was accompanied by robberies, requisitions and pogroms. One of the biggest Jewish pogroms was in 1919. Nevertheless, despite the tragic events and the reduction in the activity of religious and social life, the Jewish community of Vinnytsia survived and, as of 1926, was about 22 thousand people, or about 40% of all city residents. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, during the period of mass collectivization, the Soviet authorities tried to create Jewish collective farms and craft artels, which, however, did not have much success, since most Jews did not want to change the established way of life and earning a living.

As of 1939, the Jewish community of Vinnytsia numbered just over 33,000 people. The city was occupied by the Germans in July 1941. At that time, part of the Jewish men (about 9.5 thousand from all over the region) were drafted into the Red Army, many families were evacuated to other, more rear regions of the USSR. During the occupation, the Jews who remained in the city were placed in the ghetto. Most of them (about 2800 people) were shot in September 1941. Vinnytsia Jews actively participated in local underground groups.

In the post-war years, many Jews returned, gradually reviving Jewish life, and even a synagogue began to function in the city. In 1970-80, many Vinnytsia Jews emigrated to Israel or Western countries. The most active Jewish life in Vinnytsia began to revive after the declaration of independence by Ukraine. Numerous Jewish organizations appeared - centers of Jewish culture, societies of prisoners, charitable foundations, Sunday schools, etc. Today, the Jewish community of Vinnytsia plays a significant role in the cultural, social and economic life of the city.