KHMELNIK (Humielnik, Khmelnik until 1772), town in the Vinnitsa district, Ukraine. A Jewish community is mentioned there as early as 1565; it possessed five houses. In 1606 the local Christian merchants and artisans complained about Jewish competition. It can be assumed that the community suffered during the *Chmielnicki massacres, but it slowly recovered, mainly during the Turkish occupation, 1672–99. In the first half of the 18th century the Jews suffered from the *Haidamacks' attacks. In 1789 there were 38 Jewish shopkeepers, 53 innkeepers, and 43 artisans, most of them tailors. From 1,417 persons in 1765 (in Khmelnik and environs), the number of Jews had risen to 3,137 in 1847, and to 5,977 in 1897 (of a total population of 11,657). On the eve of World War I most of the shops – in some trades, all of them – belonged to Jews. On May 5, 1919, Jewish *self-defense in Khmelnik was organized. It fought successfully for three months against the bands of Ataman Shepil and Volyniets, killing many of them and taking their arms. In 1926 Khmelnik had 6,011 Jews (of a total population of 10,792), their number dropping to 4,793 (of 7,513) in 1939. In the 1920s artisans' cooperatives were organized, and in 1927 an agricultural cooperative of former merchants, which numbered 100 Jewish families in 1935, had 60 desyatines, a large number of livestock, and agricultural machines. In the 1920s there was a local Jewish council that conducted its deliberations in Yiddish. In 1934 the Jewish school had 600 pupils (most of the children of the town). The German forces occupied the town on July 17, 1941, and most of the Jews stayed, because the local Party boss was against evacuation. The Jews were ordered to establish a Judenrat of four, to wear a white armband with a blue Magen David, to do slave labor, and to turn over all radios, sewing machines, bicycles, etc. On August 12, 1941 Einsatzkommando 5 murdered 387 men. On January 5, 1942, a ghetto was established, swelled by refugees. On January 9, 5,800 Jews were killed, leaving skilled workers with families and the many who hid. Another 1,240 were gathered and executed on January 18. On June 12 Ukrainian policemen along with Hungarian soldiers killed 360 Jews. On March 3, 1943, the ghetto was liquidated and 1,300 were murdered. Another 132 were executed on June 26, 1943, while 85 Jews escaped. The last 14 escaped in December 1943. Some of them joined Soviet partisan units. Khmelnik was liberated on March 18, 1944. In 1959 over 1,000 Jews (8.5%) lived there. In 1979 they numbered about 500. Most of them left for Israel and the West in the 1990s.
Reshummot, 3 (1923), 393; B. West (ed.), Naftulei Dor, 2 (1955), 142–59 (Eng., Struggle of a Generation, 1959); idem, Be-Ḥevlei Kelayah (1963), 94–98; Vyestnik Zapadnoy Rossü (1869).
[Shmuel Spector (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.