History of the Jews in Ukraine

The history of the Jews in Ukraine dates back over a thousand years; Jewish communities have existed in the territory of Ukraine from the time of the Kievan Rus' (late 9th to mid-13th century).[9][10] Some of the most important Jewish religious and cultural movements, from Hasidism to Zionism, rose either fully or to an extensive degree in the territory of modern Ukraine. According to the World Jewish Congress, the Jewish community in Ukraine constitutes the third-largest in Europe and the fifth-largest in the world.[3]

Ukrainian Jews
יהדות אוקראינה
Українськi євреї
Europe-Ukraine (orthographic projection; disputed territory).svg
The location of Ukraine (dark and light green) in Europe
Total population
2010 est. 71,500 core – 200,000 enlarged [1]360,000–400,000 by 2014 est. [1][2]
Regions with significant populations
Russian (83.0%), Ukrainian[4][5][6] (13.4%), Yiddish[4][7] (3.1%), Hebrew[8]
Judaism, Christianity and other (including atheism)
Related ethnic groups
Jews, Ashkenazi Jews, Russian Jews, Mountain Jews, Belarusian Jews, Romanian Jews, Hungarian Jews, Polish Jews
Ketubah from Ukraine, from the collections of the National Library of Israel
Ketubah from Ukraine, from the collections of the National Library of Israel

Whilst at times it flourished, at other times the Jewish community faced periods of persecution and antisemitic discrimination. In the Ukrainian People's Republic (1917-1920), Yiddish was declared a state language, along with Ukrainian and Russian. At that time, the Jewish National Union was created and the community was granted an autonomous status.[11] Yiddish was used on Ukrainian currency in this same period, between 1917 and 1920.[12] Before World War II, slightly less than one-third of Ukraine's urban population consisted of Jews;[13] they were the largest national minority in Ukraine.[citation needed] Ukrainian Jews consist of a number of sub-groups with distinct characteristics, including Ashkenazi Jews, Mountain Jews, Bukharan Jews, Crimean Karaites, Krymchak Jews, and Georgian Jews.

In the westernmost area of Ukraine, Jews were mentioned for the first time in records in 1030. During the Khmelnytsky Uprising between 1648 and 1657, an army of Cossacks and Crimean Tatars massacred and took into captivity large numbers of Jews, Roman Catholics and Uniate Christians. Recent estimates are that 15,000-30,000 Jews were killed or taken captive, and that 300 Jewish communities were completely destroyed.[14]

During the 1821 anti-Jewish riots in Odessa following the death of the Greek Orthodox patriarch in Constantinople, 14 Jews were killed. Some sources claim this episode as the first pogrom.[15] At the start of 20th century, anti-Jewish pogroms continued to occur, leading to large-scale emigration. When Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire, antisemitic attitudes were expressed in numerous blood libel cases between 1911 and 1913.[citation needed] In 1915, the Russian imperial government expelled thousands of Jews from the Empire's border areas.[16][17]

During the conflicts of the Russian Revolution and the ensuing Russian Civil War, an estimated 31,071 Jews were killed between 1918 and 1920.[18] During the establishment of the Ukrainian People's Republic (1917–21),[19] pogroms continued to be perpetrated on Ukrainian territory. In Ukraine, the number of civilian Jews killed during the period was estimated at between 35,000 and 50,000.

Pogroms erupted in January 1919 in the northwest province of Volhynia and spread to many other regions of Ukraine.[20] Massive pogroms continued until 1921.[21] The actions of the Soviet government by 1927 led to a growing antisemitism in the area.[22]

Total civilian losses during World War II and the German occupation of Ukraine are estimated at seven million. More than one million Jews were shot and killed by the Einsatzgruppen and by their many local Ukrainian supporters in the western part of Ukraine. In 1959 Ukraine had 840,000 Jews, a decrease of almost 70% from 1941 totals (within Ukraine's current borders). Ukraine's Jewish population continued to decline significantly during the Cold War. In 1989, Ukraine's Jewish population was only slightly more than half of what it was thirty years earlier (in 1959). During and after the collapse of Communism in the 1990s, the majority of the Jews who remained in Ukraine in 1989 left the country and moved abroad (mostly to Israel).[23] Antisemitic graffiti and violence against Jews are still problems in Ukraine.[24][25]

Kievan Rus'Edit

By the 11th century, Byzantine Jews of Constantinople had familial, cultural, and theological ties with the Jews of Kyiv. For instance, some 11th-century Jews from Kievan Rus participated in an anti-Karaite assembly held in either Thessaloniki or Constantinople.[26] One of the three Kyivan city gates in the times of Yaroslav the Wise was called Zhydovski (Judaic).


In Halychyna (Galicia), the westernmost area of Ukraine, Jews were mentioned for the first time in 1030. From the second part of the 14th century, they were subjects of the Polish kings and magnates. The Jewish population of Halychyna and Bukovyna, part of Austria-Hungary, was extremely large; it made up 5% of the global Jewish population.

Polish–Lithuanian CommonwealthEdit

From the founding of the Kingdom of Poland in the 10th century through the creation of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1569, Poland was considered one of the most diverse countries in Europe. It became home to one of the world's largest and most vibrant Jewish communities. The Jewish community in the territory of Ukraine-proper during the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth became one of the largest and most important ethnic minority groups in Ukraine.[citation needed]

Cossack Uprising and the DelugeEdit

The Ukrainian Cossack Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky led a Cossack uprising, known as Khmelnytsky Uprising (1648–1657), under the premise that the Poles had sold them as slaves "into the hands of the accursed Jews." At that time it is estimated that the Jewish population in Ukraine numbered 51,325.[27] An army of Cossacks and Crimean Tatars massacred and took into captivity numerous Jews, Roman Catholics and Uniates in 1648–49.

Recent estimates range from fifteen thousand to thirty thousand Jews killed or taken captive, and 300 Jewish communities totally destroyed.[14]

Rise of Hasidism and internal strugglesEdit

Cossack Mamay and the Haidamaka hang a Jew by his heels. Ukrainian folk art, 19th century

The Cossack Uprising and the Deluge left a deep and lasting impression on the Jewish social and spiritual life.[citation needed]

In this time of mysticism and overly formal rabbinism came the teachings of Israel ben Eliezer, known as the Baal Shem Tov, or BeShT, (1698–1760), which had a profound effect on the Jews of Eastern Europe.[citation needed] His disciples taught and encouraged a new fervent brand of Judaism, related to Kabbalah, known as Hasidism. The rise of Hasidism had a great influence on the rise of Haredi Judaism, with a continuous influence through its many Hasidic dynasties.

A radically different movement was started by Jacob Frank in the middle of the 18th century. Frank's teachings were extremely unorthodox (such as purification through transgression, as well as adoption of elements of Christianity), and he was excommunicated along with his numerous followers. They eventually converted to Catholicism.

Russian Empire and Austrian ruleEdit

The traditional measures of keeping the Russian Empire free of Jews[citation needed] were hindered when the main territory of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was annexed during the partitions of Poland. During the second (1793) and the third (1795) partitions, large populations of Jews were taken over by the Russian Empire, and Catherine the Great established the Pale of Settlement that included Congress Poland and Crimea.

During the 1821 anti-Jewish riots in Odessa after the death of the Greek Orthodox patriarch in Constantinople, 14 Jews were killed. Some sources claim this episode as the first pogrom,[28] while according to others (such as the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1911 ed.) say the first pogrom was the 1859 riot in Odessa. The term became common after a wave of large-scale anti-Jewish violence swept southern Russian Empire, including Ukraine, between 1881 and 1884, after Jews were blamed for the assassination of Alexander II.

In May 1882, Alexander III of Russia introduced temporary regulations called May Laws that stayed in effect for more than thirty years, until 1917. Systematic policies of discrimination, strict quotas on the number of Jews allowed to obtain education and professions caused widespread poverty and mass emigration. In 1886, an edict of Expulsion was applied to the Jews of Kyiv. In 1893–1894, some areas of Crimea were cut out of the Pale.

When Alexander III died in Crimea on 20 October 1894, according to Simon Dubnow: "as the body of the deceased was carried by railway to St. Petersburg, the same rails were carrying the Jewish exiles from Yalta to the Pale. The reign of Alexander III ended symbolically. It began with pogroms and concluded with expulsions."[29]

Odessa became the home of a large Jewish community during the 19th century, and by 1897 Jews were estimated to account for some 37% of the population.[30]

Political activism and emigrationEdit

Persons of Jewish origin were over-represented in the Russian revolutionaries leadership. However, most of them were hostile to traditional Jewish culture and Jewish political parties, and were loyal to the Communist Party's atheism and proletarian internationalism, and committed to stamping out any sign of "Jewish cultural particularism".

Counter-revolutionary groups, including the Black Hundreds, opposed the Revolution with violent attacks on socialists and pogroms against Jews. There was also a backlash from the conservative elements of society, notably in spasmodic anti-Jewish attacks – around five hundred were killed in a single day in Odessa. Nicholas II of Russia himself claimed that 90% of revolutionaries were Jews.

Early 20th centuryEdit

The victims of a 1905 pogrom in Yekaterinoslav

At the start of 20th century, anti-Jewish pogroms continued to occur in cities and towns across the Russian Empire such as Kishinev, Kyiv, Odessa, and many others. Numerous Jewish self-defense groups were organized to prevent the outbreak of pogroms among which the most notorious one was under the leadership of Mishka Yaponchik in Odessa.

In 1905, a series of pogroms erupted at the same time as the Revolution against the government of Nicholas II. The chief organizers of the pogroms were the members of the Union of the Russian People (commonly known as the "Black Hundreds").[31]

From 1911 to 1913, the antisemitic tenor of the period was characterized by a number of blood libel cases (accusations of Jews murdering Christians for ritual purposes). One of the most famous was the two-year trial of Menahem Mendel Beilis, who was charged with the murder of a Christian boy (Lowe 1993, 284–90). The trial was showcased by the authorities to illustrate the perfidy of the Jewish population.[32]

From March to May 1915, in the face of the German army, the government expelled thousands of Jews from the Empire's border areas, which coincide with the Pale of Settlement.[16][17]

World War I aftermathEdit

During the 1917 Russian Revolution and the ensuing Russian Civil War, an estimated 70,000 to 250,000 Jewish civilians were killed in the atrocities throughout the former Russian Empire in this period. In the territories of modern Ukraine an estimated 31,071 died in 1918–1920.[18]

Ukrainian People's RepublicEdit

1917. 100 karbovanets of the Ukrainian National Republic. Revers. 3 languages: Ukrainian, Polish and Yiddish.

During the establishment of the Ukrainian People's Republic (1917–1921),[19] pogroms continued to be perpetrated on Ukrainian territory. In the Ukrainian People's Republic, Yiddish was an official language,[33] while all government posts and institutions had Jewish members.[33] A Ministry for Jewish Affairs was established (it was the first modern state to do so[19]).[33] All rights of Jewish culture were guaranteed.[19] All Jewish parties abstained or voted against the Tsentralna Rada's Fourth Universal of 25 January 1918 which was aimed at breaking ties with Bolshevik Russia and proclaiming a sovereign Ukrainian state,[33] since all Jewish parties were strongly against Ukrainian independence.[33]

In Ukraine alone, the number of civilian Jews killed during the period was estimated to be between 35,000 and 50,000. Archives declassified after 1991 provide evidence of a higher number; in the period from 1918 to 1921, "according to incomplete data, at least 100,000 Jews were killed in Ukraine in the pogroms."[34] The Ukrainian People's Republic did issue orders condemning pogroms and attempted to investigate them.[19] But it lacked authority to stop violence.[19] In the last months of its existence it lacked any power to create social stability.[33]

Among the prominent Ukrainian statesmen of this period were Moisei Rafes, Pinkhas Krasny, Abram Revutsky, Moishe Zilberfarb, and many others. (see General Secretariat of Ukraine) The autonomy of Ukraine was openly greeted by the Ukrainian Jewish Volodymyr Zhabotinsky.

Between April and December 1918 the Ukrainian People's Republic was non-existent and overthrown by the Ukrainian State of Pavlo Skoropadsky[19][35] who ended the experiment in Jewish autonomy.[33]

Provisional Government of Russia and SovietsEdit

The February 1917 revolution brought a liberal Provisional Government to power in the Russian Empire. On 21 March/3 April, the government removed all "discrimination based upon ethnic religious or social grounds".[36] The Pale was officially abolished. The removal of the restrictions on Jews' geographical mobility and educational opportunities led to a migration to the country's major cities.[37]

One week after the 25 October / 7 November 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, the new government proclaimed the "Declaration of the Rights of the Peoples [Nations] of Russia," promising all nationalities the rights of equality, self-determination and secession. Jews were not specifically mentioned in the declaration, reflecting Lenin's view that Jews did not constitute a nation.[38]

In 1918, the RSFSR Council of Ministers issued a decree entitled "On the Separation of Church from State and School from Church", depriving religious communities of the status of juridical persons, the right to own property and the right to enter into contracts. The decree nationalized the property of religious communities and banned their assessment of religious tuition. As a result, religion could be taught or studied only in private.[39]

On 1 February 1918 the Commissariat for Jewish National Affairs was established as a subsection of the Commissariat for Nationality Affairs. It was mandated to establish the "dictatorship of the proletariat in the Jewish streets" and attract the Jewish masses to the regime while advising local and central institutions on Jewish issues. The Commissariat was also expected to fight the influence of Zionist and Jewish-Socialist Parties.[40] On 27 July 1918 the Council of People's Commissars issued a decree stating that antisemitism is "fatal to the cause of the ... revolution". Pogroms were officially outlawed.[41] On 20 October 1918 the Jewish section of the CPSU (Yevsektsia) was established for the Party's Jewish members; its goals were similar to those of the Jewish Commissariat.[36][42][43][44]

Pogroms in western UkraineEdit

The victims of a pogrom in Khodorkiv [uk] (Ходорків), committed by the Directorate of Ukraine in 1919. From The Pritzker Family National Photography Collection, National Library of Israel

The pogroms which erupted in January 1919 in the northwest province of Volhynia spread during February and March to the cities, towns, and villages of many other regions of Ukraine.[20] After Sarny it was the turn of Ovruch, northwest of Kyiv. In Tetiev on 25 March, approximately 4,000 Jews were murdered, half in a synagogue set ablaze by Cossack troops under Colonels Kurovsky, Cherkowsy, and Shliatoshenko.[20] Then Vashilkov (6 and 7 April).[45] In Dubovo (17 June) 800 Jews were decapitated in assembly-line fashion.[20] According to David A. Chapin, the town of Proskurov (now Khmelnitsky), near the city of Sudilkov, "was the site of the worst atrocity committed against Jews this century before the Nazis." Massive pogroms continued until 1921.[21]

Pogroms across PodoliaEdit

On 15 February 1919, during the Ukrainian-Soviet war, Otaman Ivan Semesenko initiated a pogrom Proskurov in which many Jews were massacred on Shabbat (parashah Tesaveh) from three p.m. until next Sunday (?Saturday). Semesenko claimed that the pogrom was in retaliation for a previous Bolshevik uprising, which he believed was led by Jews.[46]

According to the pinqasim record books those murdered in the pogrom included 390 men, 309 women and 76 children. The number of wounded exceeded 500. Two weeks later Order 131 was published in the central newspaper[clarification needed] by the head of Directorate of Ukraine. In it Symon Petliura denounced such actions and eventually executed Otaman Semesenko by firing-squad in November 1919. Semesenko's brigade was disarmed and dissolved. This event is especially remarkable for being used to justify Sholem Schwarzbard's assassination of the Ukrainian leader in 1926. Although Petliura's direct involvement was never proven, Schwartzbard was acquitted in light of revenge. The series of Jewish pogroms in various places around Ukraine culminated in the Kyiv pogroms of 1919 between June and October of that year.[47][48]

Bolsheviks/USSR consolidation of powerEdit

In July 1919, the Central Jewish Commissariat dissolved the kehillot (Jewish Communal Councils). The kehillot had provided a number of social services to the Jewish community.[49]

From 1919 to 1920, Jewish parties and Zionist organizations were driven underground as the Communist government sought to abolish all potential opposition.[50] The Yevsektsiya Jewish section of the Soviet Communist party was at the forefront of the anti-religious campaigns of the 1920s that led to the closing of religious institutions, the break-up of religious communities and the further restriction of access to religious education.[42] To that end a series of "community trials" against the Jewish religion were held. The last known such trial, on the subject of circumcision, was held in 1928 in Kharkiv.[43] At the same time, the body also worked to establish a secular identity for the Jewish community.[44]

In 1921 many Jews in the newly formed USSR[51] emigrated to Poland, as they were entitled by a peace treaty in Riga to choose the country they preferred. Several hundred thousand joined the already numerous Jewish minority of the Polish Second Republic.

On 31 January 1924 the Commissariat for Nationalities' Affairs was disbanded.[52] On 29 August 1924 an official agency for Jewish resettlement, the Commission for the Settlement of Jewish Toilers on the Land (KOMZET), was established. KOMZET studied, managed and funded projects for Jewish resettlement in rural areas.[53] A public organization, the Society for the Agricultural Organization of Working Class Jews in the USSR (OZET), was created in January 1925 to help recruit colonists and support the colonization work of KOMZET.[54] For the first few years the government encouraged Jewish settlements, particularly in Ukraine. Support for the project dwindled throughout the next decade.[55] In 1938 OZET was disbanded, following years of declining activity. The Soviets set up three Jewish national raions in Ukraine as well as two in the Crimea – national raions occupied the 3rd level of the soviet system, but were all disbanded by the end of World War II.[56]

The cities with the largest populations of Jews in 1926 were Odessa, 154,000 or 36.5% of the total population; Kyiv, 140,500 or 27.3%; Kharkiv, 81,500 or 19.5%; and Dnipropetrovsk, 62,000 or 26.7%. In 1931 Lviv's Jewish population numbered 98,000 or 31.9%, and in Chernivtsi, 42,600 or 37.9%.[57]

On 8 April 1929 the new Law on Religious Associations codified all previous religious legislation. All meetings of religious associations were to have their agenda approved in advance; lists of members of religious associations had to be provided to the authorities.[58] In 1930 the Yevsektsia was dissolved,[44] and there was now no central Soviet-Jewish organization. Although the body had served to undermine Jewish religious life, its dissolution led to the disintegration of Jewish secular life as well; Jewish cultural and educational organizations gradually disappeared.[59] When the Soviet government reintroduced the use of internal passports in 1933, "Jewish" was considered an ethnicity for these purposes.[60]

The Soviet famine of 1932–1933 affected the Jewish population,[61] and led to a migration from the shtetls to the overcrowded cities.[62]

As the Soviet government annexed territory from Poland, Romania (both would be incorporated into the Ukrainian SSR after World War II[19]) and the Baltic states,[63] roughly two million Jews became Soviet citizens.[64] Restrictions on Jews that had existed in the formerly independent countries were now lifted.[65] At the same time, Jewish organizations in the newly acquired territories were shut down and their leaders were arrested and exiled.[66] Approximately 250,000 Jews escaped or were evacuated from the annexed territories to the Soviet interior prior to the Nazi invasion.[67]

Jewish settlement in CrimeaEdit

In 1921, Crimea became an autonomous republic. In 1923, the All-Union Central Committee passed a motion to resettle a large number of the Jewish population from Ukrainian and Belarusian cities to Crimea, 570,400 families. The plan to further resettle Jewish families was again confirmed by the Central Committee of the USSR on 15 July 1926, assigning 124 million roubles to the task and also receiving 67 million from foreign sources.[68]

The Soviet initiative of Jewish settlement in Crimea was opposed by Symon Petliura,[69] who regarded it as a provocation. This train of thought was supported by Arnold Margolin[70] who stated that it would be dangerous to set up Jewish colonies there.

The Soviets twice sought to establish Jewish autonomy in Crimea; once, in the 1920s, with the support of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and secondly, in 1944, by the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee.[22][71]

World War IIEdit

A map of the Holocaust in Ukraine

Total civilian losses during the war and German occupation in Ukraine are estimated at seven million, including over a million Jews shot and killed by the Einsatzgruppen and by local Ukrainian supporters in various regions of Ukraine.[72]

Post-war situationEdit

Ukraine had 840,000 Jews in 1959, a decrease of almost 70% from 1941 (within Ukraine's current borders). Ukraine's Jewish population declined significantly during the Cold War. In 1989, Ukraine's Jewish population was only slightly more than half of what it was thirty years earlier (in 1959). The overwhelming majority of the Jews who remained in Ukraine in 1989 left Ukraine and moved to other countries (mostly to Israel) in the 1990s during and after the collapse of Communism.[23]

Historical Ukrainian Jewish population

Such new immigrants to Israel included artists, such as Marina Maximilian Blumin and street artist Klone,[82] as well as activists, such as Gennady Riger and Lia Shemtov.

Independent UkraineEdit

In 1989, a Soviet census counted 487,000 Jews living in Ukraine.[83][84] Although discrimination by the state all but halted very soon after Ukrainian independence in 1991, Jews were still discriminated against in Ukraine during the 1990s.[85] For instance, Jews were not allowed to attend some educational institutions.[85] Antisemitism has since declined.[86] According to the European Jewish Congress, as of 2014, there are 360,000–400,000 Jews in Ukraine.[2]

During the 1990s, some 266,300 Ukrainian Jews emigrated to Israel as part of a wave of mass emigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union to Israel in the 1990s.[87] The 2001 Ukrainian Census counted 106,600 Jews living in Ukraine[88] (the number of Jews also dropped due to a negative birthrate[87]). According to the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister of Israel, early 2012 there were 250,000 Jews in Ukraine, half of them living in Kyiv.[8]

By 1999 there were various Ukrainian Jewish organizations who disputed each other's legitimacy.[89]

In November 2007, an estimated 700 Torah scrolls previously confiscated from Jewish communities during the Soviet Union's Communist rule were returned to Jewish communes in Ukraine by the state authorities.[90]

The Ukrainian Jewish Committee was established in 2008 in Kyiv with the aim of concentrating the efforts of Jewish leaders in Ukraine on resolving the community's strategic problems and addressing socially significant issues. The Committee declared its intention to become one of the world's most influential organizations protecting the rights of Jews and "the most important and powerful structure protecting human rights in Ukraine".[91]

In the 2012 Ukrainian parliamentary elections, All-Ukrainian Union "Svoboda" won its first seats in the Ukrainian Parliament,[92][93][94][95][96][97] garnering 10.44% of the popular vote and the fourth most seats among national political parties;[98][99] This led to concern among Jewish organizations both inside and outside Ukraine who accused "Svoboda" of openly Nazi sympathies and being antisemitic.[100][92][93][94][101][96][97][102] In May 2013, the World Jewish Congress listed the party as neo-Nazi.[103] "Svoboda" itself has denied being antisemitic.[93][104][105][106][107][108][109]

Antisemitic graffiti and violence against Jews are still a problem in Ukraine.[24]

Since the February 2014 ending of the Euromaidan protests unrest has gripped southern and eastern Ukraine, and this escalated in April 2014 into the ongoing War in Donbas.[110]

In April 2014, leaflets were distributed by three masked man as people left a synagogue in Donetsk (the biggest city in Donbas) ordering Jews to register to avoid losing their property and citizenship "given that the leaders of the Jewish community of Ukraine support the Banderite junta in Kyiv[nb 1] and are hostile to the Orthodox Donetsk Republic and its citizens".[111][112][113] While many speak of a hoax (concerning the authorship of the tracts) which took on international proportions, the fact that these flyers were distributed remains undisputed.[111]

Due to the growing 2014 Ukrainian unrest, Ukrainian Jews making aliyah from Ukraine reached 142% higher during the first four months of 2014 compared to the previous year.[114] 800 people arrived in Israel over January–April, and over 200 signed up for May 2014.[114] On the other hand, chief rabbi and Chabad emissary of Kyiv Rabbi Jonathan Markovitch claimed late April 2014 "Today, you can come to Kyiv, Dnipro or Odessa and walk through the streets openly dressed as a Jew, with nothing to be afraid of".[115]

In August 2014, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews is organizing chartered flights to allow at least 150 Ukrainian Jews, to immigrate to Israel in September. Jewish organizations within Ukraine, as well as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Jewish community of Dnipropetrovsk, have arranged temporary homes and shelters for hundreds of Jews who fled the War in Donbas in eastern Ukraine. Hundreds of Jews have reportedly fled the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk, and Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein stated (in August 2014) that more Jews may leave for Israel if the situation in eastern Ukraine continues to deteriorate.[116][117]

In 2014 the Jews Ihor Kolomoyskyi and Volodymyr Groysman were appointed Governor of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast and Speaker of the Parliament respectively.[118][119][120][121] Groysman became Prime Minister of Ukraine in April 2016.[122] Ukraine elected its first Jewish president in the 2019 presidential election where former comedian and actor of the TV series Servant of the People, Volodymyr Zelensky won over incumbent Petro Poroshenko.[123]

2022 Russian invasion of UkraineEdit

In February 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine, the Israeli Embassy stayed open on the Sabbath to facilitate the evacuation of an estimated 200,000 Jews from Ukraine. A total of 97 Jews chose to flee Ukraine for Israel.[124] In addition, 140 Jewish orphans have fled from Ukraine to Romania and Moldova.[125][126] 100 Jews fled from Ukraine to Belarus for eventual leaving for Israel[127] On 2 March 2022, the Jewish Agency for Israel reported that hundreds of Ukrainian Jewish war refugees sheltering in Poland, Romania and Moldova were scheduled to leave for Israel by the following week.[128] On March 13, 2022, 600 Jews fleeing from Ukraine went to Israel,[129] and by March 21, 2022, the number was 12,000.[130] As of 7 April 2022 the number of Jews from Ukraine who have gone up to Israel is reported to be 10,000.[131]As of 4 May 2022 12,500 Jews have been evacuated from Ukraine.[132]

Jewish communitiesEdit

As of 2012, Ukraine had the fifth-largest Jewish community in Europe and the twelfth-largest Jewish community in the world, behind South Africa and ahead of Mexico. The majority of Ukrainian Jews live in four large cities: Kyiv (about half of all Jews living in Ukraine),[8] Dnipro, Kharkiv and Odessa.[133] Rabbis Jonathan Markovitch of Kyiv and Shmuel Kaminetsky[134] of Dnipro are considered to be among the most influential foreigners in the country.[135] Opened in October 2012 in Dnipro, the multifunctional Menorah center is probably one of the biggest Jewish community centers in the world.[136][137]

There is a growing trend among some Israelis to visit Ukraine on a "roots trip" to follow the footsteps of Jewish life there.[138] Among the places of interest Kyiv is usually mentioned, where it is possible to trace the paths of Sholem Aleichem and Golda Meir; Zhytomyr and Korostyshiv, where one can follow the steps of Haim Nahman Bialik; Berdychiv, where one can trace the life of Mendele Mocher Sforim; Rivne, where one can follow the course of Amos Oz; Buchach – the path of S.Y. Agnon; Drohobych – the place of Maurycy Gottlieb and Bruno Schulz.[138]

Notable Ukrainian JewsEdit

Ukrainian JewsEdit

Ukrainian-born American JewsEdit

Ukrainian-descended American JewsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Apparently referring to the support of the Euromaidan protests (that ousted president Viktor Yanukovich) by prominent Jews in Ukraine.[111]


  1. ^ a b DellaPergola, Sergio (2 November 2012). Dashefsky, Arnold; Sheskin, Ira (eds.). "World Jewish Population, 2012" (PDF). Current Jewish Population Reports. Storrs, Connecticut: North American Jewish Data Bank. Retrieved 21 September 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "Ukraine". European Jewish Congress. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e Ukraine. World Jewish Congress.
  4. ^ a b Language Policy in the Soviet Union by L.A. Grenoble, Springer Science+Business Media, 2010, ISBN 9048162939 (page 65 & 58) & Harvest of Despair: Life and Death in Ukraine Under Nazi Rule by Karel C. Berkhoff, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2008, ISBN 0674027183 (page 60)
  5. ^ The End of Eurasia: Russia on the Border Between Geopolitics and Globalization, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2002 (page 256)
  6. ^ Ukraine Jews Expect Little to Change Following Election, Jewish Telegraphic Agency (3 October 2007)
  7. ^ Speaking Jewish-Jewish Speak: Multilingualism in Western Ashkenazic Culture, Peeters Publishers, 2005 (page 44)
  8. ^ a b c Conservative Judaism movement to establish first community in Ukraine, Haaretz (5 February 2012)
  9. ^ "Серія "Між Львівською площею та Євбазом (сучасна площа Перемоги)" (Фото Києва ::: Фото Киева ::: Photo of Kiev ::: Pictures of Kyiv)". web.archive.org. 21 November 2014. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  10. ^ Kipiani, V. "Interesting Books": Jewish addresses of Kyiv. News Broadcasting Service (TSN). 6 April 2012
  11. ^ National policy of the Central Council in conditions of Ukrainian independence (January-April 1918). Electronic library of handbooks.
  12. ^ Money with Yiddish labels. Hadashot by Vaad of Ukraine. January of 2008
  13. ^ "Jewish Urban Population: 1897". Geschichteinchronologie.ch. 7 May 2007. Archived from the original on 23 June 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  14. ^ a b Paul Magocsi, A History of Ukraine, p. 350. University of Washington Press, 1996.
  15. ^ "Virtual Excursion on Jewish Odessa - Pogroms". 21 January 2007. Archived from the original on 21 January 2007. Retrieved 3 April 2022.
  16. ^ a b Pinkus 1988, 31
  17. ^ a b Baron 1964, 188–91.
  18. ^ a b c Abramson, Henry (1991). "Jewish Representation in the Independent Ukrainian Governments of 1917-1920". Slavic Review. Cambridge University Press. 50 (03): 542–550. doi:10.2307/2499851. JSTOR 2499851: Table, pg. 548{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h Yekelchyk, Serhy (2007). Ukraine: Birth of a Modern Nation. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-530546-3.
  20. ^ a b c d Midlarsky, Manus I. (2005). The Killing Trap: Genocide in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge University Press. pp. 46–47. ISBN 978-0-521-81545-1. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  21. ^ a b Arno Joseph Mayer, The Furies: Violence and Terror in the French and Russian Revolutions. Published by Princeton University Press, pg. 516 [1]
  22. ^ a b Сергійчук, В. Український Крим К. 2001, p.156
  23. ^ a b "Table 30. Immigrants from the USSR (former) by last republic of residence: 1990-2001" (PDF). Central Bureau of Statistics, State of Israel. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  24. ^ a b "Anti-Semitism in Ukraine in 2010" (PDF). Human Rights Watch. 7 October 2010.
  25. ^ Ukraine: Treatment of ethnic minorities, including Roma; state protection, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (17 September 2012)]
  26. ^ Kevin A. Brook, The Jews of Khazaria, Second Edition, Rowman and Littlefield, pg. 198.
  27. ^ Orest Subtelny, History of Ukraine, p. 599. University of Toronto Press, 1994. ISBN 978-0-8020-7191-0
  28. ^ Odessa pogroms Archived 21 January 2007 at the Wayback Machine at the Center of Jewish Self-Education "Moria"
  29. ^ The Newest History of the Jewish People, 1789–1914 by Simon Dubnow, vol. 3, Russian ed., p. 153.
  30. ^ "Odessa: A City Born Again and Again", by Katherine Avgerinos and Josh Wilson
  31. ^ Baron 1964, 67.
  32. ^ Pinkus 1988, 30.
  33. ^ a b c d e f g History of Ukraine - The Land and Its Peoples by Paul Robert Magocsi, University of Toronto Press, 2010, ISBN 1442640855 (page 537)
  34. ^ Kyiv District Commission of the Jewish Public Committee for Relief to Victims of Pogroms. State Archive of the Kyiv Oblast. Fond FR-3050 by Vladimir Danilenko, Director of the State Archive of the Kyiv Oblast.
  35. ^ Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States: 1999, Routledge, 1999, ISBN 1857430581 (page 849)
  36. ^ a b Korey 1978, 90.
  37. ^ Insight on the News 21 May 1990b, 17.
  38. ^ Sawyer 1979, 14–15.
  39. ^ Soviet Jewish Affairs Autumn-Winter 1990, 27.
  40. ^ Korey 1978, 79; Pinkus 1988, 58–59.
  41. ^ Weinryb 1978, 306.
  42. ^ a b Survey January 1968, 77–81.
  43. ^ a b Rothenberg 1978, 172–73; Levin 1988, 78–80.
  44. ^ a b c Pinkus 1988, 62.
  45. ^ Elias Tcherikower, "The Pogroms in Ukraine in 1919" originally in Yiddish, YIVO Institute, 1965; The Berdichev Revival. Retrieved 13 April 2012.
  46. ^ "The Pogroms". Grossmanproject.net. 7 November 1905. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  47. ^ Brown, Michael L. (10 May 1992). "Our Hands Are Stained with Blood". Destiny Image Publishers. Retrieved 10 May 2022 – via Google Books.
  48. ^ "Reflections of a post-Auschwitz Christian". Detroit : Wayne State University Press. 10 May 1989. Retrieved 10 May 2022 – via Internet Archive.
  49. ^ Levin 1988, 81.
  50. ^ Schechtman 1978, 113; Levin 1988, 90–91.
  51. ^ Carr 1950, 401, 413.
  52. ^ Pinkus 1988, 59.
  53. ^ Levin 1988, 131; Schwarz 1951, 162–63.
  54. ^ Pinkus 1988, 64.
  55. ^ Levin 1988, 131–51.
  56. ^ Pinkus 1988, 65.
  57. ^ Jews, encyclopediaofukraine.com
  58. ^ Problems of Communism May–June 1973, 10–11.
  59. ^ Rothenberg 1978, 177–78.
  60. ^ Pinkus 1988, 57.
  61. ^ Sergei Maksudov, "Losses Suffered by the Population of the USSR 1918–1958", in The Samizdat Register II, ed. R. Medvedev (London–New York 1981)
  62. ^ Khiterer, V. (2020). The Holodomor and Jews in Kyiv and Ukraine: An Introduction and Observations on a Neglected Topic. Nationalities Papers, 48(3), 460-475. doi:10.1017/nps.2018.79
  63. ^ Dmytryshyn 1965, 210–14.
  64. ^ Rothenberg 1978, 180; Altshuler 1993, 85.
  65. ^ Soviet Jewish Affairs Summer 1991, 53–54.
  66. ^ Baron 1964, 294.
  67. ^ Gitelman 1993, 4.
  68. ^ Сергійчук, В. Український Крим К. 2001, p. 150
  69. ^ Петлюра С. Статті, листи, документи – Н. Й. 1979 – Vol 2, p. 428
  70. ^ Margolin A. "The New Palestine", December 1926 also Тризуб, 1927 ч. 14 p. 13-14
  71. ^ Mykola Vladzimirsky. "Віктор Даниленко Проекти Єврейської Автономії В Радянському Криму". Ukrlife.org. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  72. ^ "Демоскоп Weekly - Приложение. Справочник статистических показателей". www.demoscope.ru. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  73. ^ Yivoencyclopedia.org. Retrieved on 2013-04-14.
  74. ^ http://www.berdichev.org/imagens/Jews_Table1.jpg[bare URL image file]
  75. ^ http://www.berdichev.org/imagens/Jews_Table2.jpg[bare URL image file]
  76. ^ Greg Dawson (2012). Judgment Before Nuremberg: The Holocaust in the Ukraine and the First Nazi. Open Road Media. ISBN 9781453226339. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  77. ^ "Приложение Демоскопа Weekly". Demoscope.ru. 15 January 2013. Archived from the original on 12 October 2013. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  78. ^ "World Jewish Population, 2002" (PDF). www.ajcarchives.org. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  79. ^ "Powered by Google Docs". Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  80. ^ YIVO | Population and Migration: Population since World War I. Yivoencyclopedia.org. Retrieved on 2013-04-14.
  81. ^ American Jewish Year Book 2012. Springer Publishing. 2012. p. 225. ISBN 9789400752047.
  82. ^ "Studio visit : Klone | Documenting the real and unreal". The Bubblist. 15 June 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  83. ^ "Динамика численности еврейского населения Украины". www.demoscope.ru. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  84. ^ "The Virtual Jewish History Tour – Ukraine". Jewishvirtuallibrary.org. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  85. ^ a b (in Dutch) Demonen aan de Dnipr:de moeizame staatsvorming van Oekraïne by Susan Stewart Archived 21 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Instituut voor Publiek en Politiek, 1994, ISBN 90-6473-295-7 (page 84)
  86. ^ Anti-Semitism Worldwide, 1999/2000 by Stephen Roth Institute, University of Nebraska Press, 2002, ISBN 0-8032-5945-X
  87. ^ a b Anti-Semitism Worldwide, 1999/2000 by Stephen Roth Institute, University of Nebraska Press, 2001, ISBN 978-0-8032-5943-0 (page 150)
  88. ^ About number and composition population of UKRAINE by data All-Ukrainian population census'2001 data Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Ukrainian Census (2001)
  89. ^ Rabinovich rallies his supporters, Kyiv Post (8 April 1999)
  90. ^ "Ukraine President Orders Return of 700 Torah Scrolls Confiscated by Communist Government", Religious Information Service of Ukraine News, November 2007.
  91. ^ "RISU /English /News /Ukrainian Jewish Committee Established to Address Jewish Issues in Ukraine". archive.is. 8 September 2012. Archived from the original on 8 September 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  92. ^ a b "Ukraine election: President Yanukovych party claims win". 29 October 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2022 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  93. ^ a b c "Extreme Choices: Svoboda plays nationalist card - Oct. 18, 2012". KyivPost. 18 October 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  94. ^ a b "2012 Top Ten Anti-Israel/Anti-Semitic Slurs:Mainstream Anti-Semitism Threatens World Peace". Archived from the original on 21 December 2013. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  95. ^ Winer, Stuart. "Ukraine okays 'zhyd' slur for Jews". www.timesofisrael.com. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  96. ^ a b "Svoboda: The rise of Ukraine's ultra-nationalists". 26 December 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2022 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  97. ^ a b "Svoboda: The Rising Spectre Of Neo-Nazism In The Ukraine". International Business Times. 27 December 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  98. ^ "Results of the vote count - Nov. 09, 2012". KyivPost. 9 November 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  99. ^ "Party of Regions gets 185 seats in Ukrainian parliament, Batkivschyna 101 - CEC". Interfax-Ukraine. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  100. ^ "Experts weigh in on rise of Ukrainian Svoboda party | JPost | Israel News". Archived from the original on 27 April 2013.
  101. ^ Winer, Stuart. Ukraine okays ‘zhyd’ slur for Jews, The Times of Israel, 19 December 2012.]
  102. ^ "Svoboda promoting hatred in Ukraine - Feb. 14, 2013". KyivPost. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  103. ^ "Ukrinform - Ukrainian National News Agency". www.ukrinform.net. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  104. ^ Oleh Tyahnybok: "The three opposition parties should not be required to act completely in sync", The Ukrainian Week (31 March 2013)
  105. ^ Reuters (25 September 2011). "Svoboda". Kyiv Post. Retrieved 25 September 2011.
  106. ^ "Ukrainian party picks xenophobic candidate". Archived from the original on 25 May 2009. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  107. ^ "Tiahnybok denies anti-Semitism in Svoboda - Dec. 27, 2012". KyivPost. 27 December 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  108. ^ Herszenhorn, David M. (9 November 2012). "Ukraine's Ultranationalists Show Surprising Strength at Polls". Retrieved 10 May 2022 – via NYTimes.com.
  109. ^ "Ukraine party attempts to lose anti-Semitic image". The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  110. ^ "Ukraine crisis: Timeline". 13 November 2014. Retrieved 10 May 2022 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  111. ^ a b c "Antisemitic flyer 'by Donetsk People's Republic' in Ukraine a hoax". the Guardian. 18 April 2014. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  112. ^ Dorell, Oren. "Leaflet tells Jews to register in East Ukraine". USA TODAY. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  113. ^ Donetsk leaflet: Jews must register or face deportation, antisemitism.org (16 April 2014)]
  114. ^ a b "Ukrainian Jews immigrate to Israel amid growing unrest". The Times of Israel. 4 May 2014. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
  115. ^ In Dnepropetrovsk, a Stylish Passover Despite Ukraine's Rumblings, Lubavitch World Headquarters (27 April 2014)
  116. ^ 150 Jews who fled Ukraine fighting expected in Israel, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 7 August 2014.
  117. ^ Israel rescues Ukrainian Jews stranded by fighting by Reuters (reprinted in the Jerusalem Post), 27 May 2014.
  118. ^ "Putin Gets Personal in Ukraine". 4 March 2014. Retrieved 10 May 2022 – via www.bloomberg.com.
  119. ^ "Russia and Ukraine at war - among the Jews anyway". 27 March 2014. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  120. ^ "Hroisman elected Rada speaker". Interfax-Ukraine. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  121. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 August 2014. Retrieved 28 July 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) "The Ukrainian Crisis and the Jews: A Time for Hope or Despair," Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs VIII : 2 (2014) pp 77–85.
  122. ^ Ukrainian president taps Jewish politician to be next prime minister, Jerusalem Post (14 April 2016)
  123. ^ Higgins, Andrew (24 April 2019). "Ukraine's Newly Elected President Is Jewish. So Is Its Prime Minister. Not All Jews There Are Pleased". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 25 April 2019. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  124. ^ "In Ukraine, The Escape Road Not Taken". aish.com. 27 February 2022. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  125. ^ "Jewish-Children-From-Orphanage-and-Yeshiva-Arrive-Safely-in-Romania-and-Moldova.htm Chabbad.com March 1,2022". Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  126. ^ "WATCH: Moving Havdalah With Jewish Refugees From Odessa". 6 March 2022. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  127. ^ "Rescuing 100 Jews in Ukraine on Shabbat". aish.com. 3 March 2022. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  128. ^ Gross, Judah Ari. "Hundreds of Jews fleeing Ukraine to arrive in Israel next week". www.timesofisrael.com. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  129. ^ "Record 600 new immigrants from Ukraine to arrive today". Israel National News. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  130. ^ "Two Ukrainians Discover They're Sisters while Fleeing to Israel". aish.com. 21 March 2022. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  131. ^ "In time for Passover: Israeli immigration minister visits Ukraine to get Jews to Israel". Israel365 News | Latest News. Biblical Perspective. 7 April 2022. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  132. ^ The Jewish Federations of North American 4 May 2022
  133. ^ "RISU on Jewish Communities". Archived from the original on 20 April 2005. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  134. ^ "Chabad of Dnepropetrovsk - Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine". Chabad.org. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  135. ^ "Ukrainian rabbis seen as 'powerful foreigners'," Jewish & Israel News
  136. ^ Shulman, Ian (15 January 2013). "World's biggest Jewish community center opens in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine". Jewish Journal. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  137. ^ Chesler, Chaim (22 October 2012). "The Menorah Center: Largest Jewish complex in world". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  138. ^ a b A mile in their shoes, By Moshe Gilad, RISU

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit