Jews of Belaya Tserkov
Belaya Tserkov is one of the oldest cities in Ukraine. Yaroslav the Wise founded it in 1032. Since the XIV century, the city has been part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Around this period, Jews from Germany and Poland began to settle in the Kiev region. The first documented information about the existence of the Jewish community in Belaya Tserkov dates to the end of the 16th century, when these lands were already part of The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Relations between Jews and the local population were not easy. In 1648, the Cossacks of Khmelnitsky staged a Jewish pogrom in the city. Until the beginning of the XVIII century, Belaya Tserkov was part of the Cossack Hetmanate. In 1712, together with the Kiev lands, the city came under Polish control, and the Jewish population was able to return. In 1768, it became a victim of the pogroms of the Haidamaks, and in 1786 - of the Cossacks.
In 1774, an important event took place in the history of the city and the Jewish population. The Polish king granted the lands of Belaya Tserkov to the hetman Francis Xavier Branitsky. To restore the urban economy, the new owner in 1806 enters into an agreement with the Jewish community. Branitsky leases land, loans for construction and building materials. Cloth halls appear in the city, in which 85 stores belonged to Jews.
By 1821, the number of Jews in the city reached 1.7 thousand people. They make up 26.7% of citizens. Over the past 20 years, the size of the community will increase almost fourfold, and in 1847, 6655 Jews were already living in Belaya Tserkov. In 1848, local Jews, with the support of Vladislav Branitsky, received permission from the authorities to build a choral synagogue. By 1860, the building was built and it became the center of Jewish life. Here, court hearings for elections to the qahal, gatherings of community members and other events were held. In 1929, the Soviet government confiscated the building. In addition to the choral synagogue, in the city operated merchants', craftsmen's and a number of other synagogues.
By the end of the 19th century, 18.7 thousand Jews lived in the city, accounting for 52.9% of urban residents.
With the beginning of the twentieth century, the Jewish population of the city decreased as a result of pogroms, which were arranged by successive authorities in the revolutionary period. In 1926, Jews accounted for 36.4% of citizens, and by 1939 - 19.6%.
In July 1941, the Nazis occupied Belaya Tserkov. From August to September 1941, mass executions of Jews took place here. After the occupation in 1943, a special commission discovered 4,500 corpses at the places of executions.
In the postwar period, the number of the Jewish population of the city continued to decline. By 1959, it amounted to 7.8% of citizens. In 1962, authorities decided to close the last operating synagogue.
By 1989, only 2% of Jews lived in the city. During this period, a revival of community life took place. In 1989, the Sholem Aleichem Jewish Culture Society began to operate in the city. Since the early 1990s, Sunday and day schools, a kindergarten have been operating.
According to statistics, in 2001, 0.1% of Jews lived in Belaya Tserkov.