UKRAINE (Rus. Ukraina), East European republic, formerly the Ukrainian S.S.R. At the close of the 16th century there were about 45,000 Jews (out of the 100,000 Jews who were then presumably in the whole of Poland) living in the eastern regions of Poland which were inhabited by Ukrainians. Before the *Chmielnicki massacres of 1648–49 their numbers had increased to at least 150,000; in the census of 1764, 258,000 Jews were enumerated, though in fact their number was over 300,000. In 1847, according to official sources, there were almost 600,000 Jews in the Ukrainian regions belonging to Russia (the provinces of southwestern Russia – *Volhynia, *Podolia, and *Kiev; of "Little Russia" – *Chernigov and *Poltava; and of "New Russia" – Yekaterinoslav (*Dnepropetrovsk), *Kherson, and Taurida), though they actually numbered up to 900,000. According to the population census of 1897 (the first general census in Russia), there were 1,927,268 Jews in these regions, 9.2% of the total population of the Ukraine. The census of 1926 enumerated 1,574,391 Jews in the Ukraine, subsequent to the detachment of half of the province of Volhynia (the second half was then within the borders of Poland), half of the province of Taurida, and a small section of the province of Chernigov, while several districts of the Don region had been incorporated into it. The Jews then constituted 5.43% of the total population of the Ukraine. The census of 1939 enumerated 1,532,827 Jews in the Ukraine (4.9% of the total). According to the census of 1959, which also included the Jews of the regions which had passed to Russia after World War II (eastern *Galicia, northern *Bukovina, *Subcarpathian Ruthenia), there were 840,319 Jews in the Ukraine (2% of the total). According to this census, which was generally regarded as underestimating their numbers, Jews were concentrated in the towns of Kiev (153,500), *Odessa (106,700), *Kharkov (84,000), Dnepropetrovsk (52,800), *Chernovtsy (Czernowitz; 36,500), *Lvov (24,700), and *Donetsk (21,000). About 80% of the Jews of the Ukraine declared their mother tongue as Russian, about 17% (142,240) as Yiddish, and only about 3% as Ukrainian.
Development and Distribution of the Jewish Settlement
The Jewish settlement in the Ukraine preceded the unification of the area and the formation of the Ukrainian nation. Jewish settlements already existed on the banks of the River Dnieper and in the east and south of the Ukraine and the *Crimea in the periods of the *Khazar kingdom, while ancient Jewish communities were only established in the west, in Volhynia and "Red Russia" (eastern Galicia), in the 12th century. Of these the most ancient was apparently *Vladimir-Volynski. It seems that the "Russia" mentioned in 13th-century rabbinical literature refers to "Red Russia." These communities absorbed the Jewish migration from Germany and Bohemia caused by the persecutions and massacres of the 14th (the *Black Death) and 15th centuries; later, Jews were drawn to the Ukraine by the colonizing activities of the Polish nobility that intensified in the 16th to 17th centuries with the consolidation of the rule of *Poland-Lithuania over the region. The important role taken by the Jews in the economic sphere in this colonization made the Ukraine one of the Jewish centers in Poland-Lithuania. The number of the communities there increased from 25 during the 14th century to 80 in 1764. Even the Chmielnicki massacres in 1648–49 did not halt Jewish migration to the Ukraine and they played a prominent role in its economic recovery during the second half of the 17th and the 18th centuries. After the Ukraine was annexed by Russia, according to the census of 1764, about 15% of the Jewish population lived in provinces having communities over 1,000 Jews, while in other provinces – Volhynia, Podolia, Kiev, and *Bratslav – their proportion was only 11%. The census of 1897, however, shows that 72% of the Jewish population there were living in 262 communities of more than 1,000 persons, which, taken together with the communities having more than 500 Jews, meant that 37% of the Jewish population there lived in towns and townlets in which the Jews formed an absolute majority and 22% in localities
After the abolition of the *Pale of Settlement, with the October 1917 Revolution, the civil war, and the disorders which accompanied it, more than 300,000 Jews left the Ukraine for other parts of the Soviet Union. Hence they formed only 5.4% of the total population and 22% of the urban population of the Ukraine in 1926, and 4.1% and 11.7% respectively in 1939. In 1926, 44% of them lived in 20 towns, each having over 10,000 Jews; while in 1939, 39% lived in the four cities of Odessa, Kiev, Kharkov, and Dnepropetrovsk. This intensified urbanization did not, however, give them predominance in the cities, since there also was a stream of Ukrainian peasants from the villages into the towns, which assumed a pronounced Ukrainian character.
For the history of Ukrainian Jewry after World War I and in the Holocaust see *Russia.
The migration of Jews from the western provinces of Poland to the Ukraine in the 16th century was mainly due to their economic role in the *arenda business on a large or small scale. Hence, the Ukraine became a region where Jews managed a considerable proportion of the agricultural economy, administering complexes consisting of a number of estates, single estates, or a sector of their economy. Jews also engaged in arenda there in the collection of customs duties and taxes, and played an important role in the export and import trade in the region. The Cossack authorities of the part of the Ukraine annexed by Russia beyond the Dnieper opposed the frequent expulsions of the Jews from there (1717, 1731, 1740, 1742, 1744), and argued in favor of their free admission to the Ukraine (1728, 1734, 1764) stating that the Jews promoted the region's trade. When the Ukraine (with the exception of eastern Galicia) became part of the Pale of Settlement after the partition of Poland-Lithuania, the Jews continued to play a considerable and dynamic role in the economy of the region. In 1817, 30% of the factories in Ukraine were owned by Jews. They were particularly active in the production of alcoholic beverages. In 1872, before the anti-Jewish restriction in this sphere, 90% of those occupied in distilling were Jews; 56.6% in sawmills, 48.8% in the *tobacco industry, and 32.5% in the *sugar industry. Only a limited number of Jews were occupied in heavy industry, where they were generally employed as white-collar workers. In 1897 the occupational structure of the Jewish population of Ukraine was 43.3% in commerce; 32.2% in crafts and industry; 2.9% in agriculture; 3.7% in communications; 7.3% in private services (including porterage and the like); 5.8% in public services (including the liberal professions); and 4.8% of no permanent occupation. Under the Soviet regime, by 1926, it had become 20.6% in arts and crafts; 20.6% in public services (administrative work); 15.3% workers (including 6.6% industrial workers); 13.3% in commerce; 9.2% in agriculture; 1.6% in liberal professions; 8.9% unemployed; 7.3% without profession; and 3.2% miscellaneous (pensioners, invalids, etc.). The proportion of Jews in various administrative branches was 40.6% in the economic administration and 31.9% in the medical sanitary administration. After large numbers of Jews had been absorbed under the Five-Year Plan in heavy industry (especially the metal and automobile industries), in the artisan cooperatives (in which there were over 70,000 Jewish members – 12.9% of the membership), and in agriculture (16,500 families in the cooperative farms), the proportion of Jews living in villages rose to 14% of the Jewish population.
Hatred of the Jews
When the Jews settled in the Ukraine during the period of Polish rule, they found themselves between hammer and anvil: under the arenda system the Jewish lessee administered the estate in the name of the Polish landowner, and, if living in the town, he found his customers among the nobility, officials, the Catholic clergy, and the local army garrison. To the enslaved peasants and rebellious Cossacks, Ukrainians, and Greek-Orthodox the Jewish lessee appeared both as an infidel and an alien – an emissary of the Polish Catholic noblemen who sought to dominate them. The Ukrainian townsman was jealous of his urban rival, the unbelieving Jew, whose success was due to the assistance of the foreign and hated Polish regime. In times of rebellion and war, this hatred and jealousy was vented in severe persecutions and horrifying massacres, such as the Chmielnicki massacres of 1648–49, when over 100,000 Jews were brutally killed and almost all the communities of the Ukraine were destroyed, and the persecutions of the *Haidamaks in the 18th century, which were more limited in scope but even more terrible in their cruelty. These massacres, whose perpetrators were admired as national heroes, gave rise to a popular tradition of hatred toward the Jews in the Ukraine; it was nurtured by the increase of the Jewish population in the country, by its economic position, and later by the propagation of the Russian language and culture by Jews – an act which the nationalist Ukrainian intellectuals (the "Ukrainophiles") regarded as collaboration with the "Muscovite" Russian government in its campaign against their awakening as a separate nation. This tradition of hatred toward the Jews found its expression in both folk songs and literature (T. Shevchenko; N. Gogol), in historiography (N. Kostomarov), and in political thought (M. Dragomanov). The Nationalist and Socialist Party of the Ukraine was also imbued with anti-Jewish feelings.
The Period of the Independent Ukraine and Jewish National Autonomy
The period from March 1917 to August 1920 constitutes a special chapter in the history of the Jews of the Ukraine. The Ukrainians established a National Council (the Rada), which in January 1918 proclaimed the separation of the Ukraine from Russia; this episode came to an end in August 1920, when the Red Army completed the conquest of the Ukraine. During this time the leaders of the Ukrainian nationalist movement attempted to reach an agreement with the Jews. They established relations with the leaders of Zionism in eastern Galicia, and jointly waged a struggle against Polish aims in the Ukraine. During this period the Jews were represented in the Rada (with 50 delegates), a secretariat for Jewish affairs was established (July 1917), and a law passed on "personal national autonomy" for the national minorities, among which, the Jews were included. The Jewish ministry (M. *Silberfarb was the first minister; he was succeeded by J.W. *Latzki-Bertholdi) passed a law providing for democratic elections to the administrative bodies of the communities (December 1918), a Jewish National Council was formed, and the Provisional National Council of the Jews of the Ukraine was convened (November 1918). These institutions were short-lived. In July 1918 the autonomy was abolished, the Jewish ministry was dissolved and the pogroms which then took place – without the Ukrainian government taking any effective measures to assure the security of the Jewish population – proved that the whole of this project had been directed more at securing the assistance of the Jewish parties in order to achieve complete separation from Russia than at really developing a new positive attitude toward the Jews.
Religious and Social Movements in Ukrainian Jewry
Ukrainian Jewry became a focus of religious and social ferment within Judaism from the late 17th century. The massacres and sufferings endured by the Jews in the Ukraine also introduced spiritual and social trends. The messianic agitation which followed the massacres of 1648–49 paved the way for the penetration of *Shabbateanism, while at the time of the Haidamak persecutions and the revival of *blood libels, the *Frankist movement made its appearance, and *Ḥasidim as inaugurated by *Israel b. Eliezer Ba'al Shem Tov developed and spread rapidly through the country. After the pogroms of the 1880s, the Ukraine was not only the birthplace of the *Ḥibbat Zion, the *Bilu, and the *Am Olam movements but also of the Dukhovno-bibleyskoye bratstvo ("Spiritual Biblical Brotherhood," founded by Jacob *Gordin and his circle) which sought to "bring back" the Jews to the religious purity of the Bible and thus draw them closer to Christianity. Activist and revolutionary trends were also prominent in the Hebrew and Yiddish literature which emerged in the Ukraine during the 19th and 20th centuries.
During the 1920s and the early 1930s three Jewish districts were created in the areas of Jewish settlement in southeastern Ukraine (*Kalininskoye, Stalinskoye, and *Zlatopol; see also *Yevsektsiya).
[Benzion Dinur (Dinaburg)]
After World War II
During the last stages of World War II and in the period after it, when Nikita Khrushchev was the ruling party man of the Ukraine, Ukrainian Jews who, during the occupation, fled or were evacuated to Soviet Asia, began to stream back and claim their previous housing, possessions, and positions. They were met with outspoken hostility by most of the Ukrainians who had taken their place. The administration refused to interfere in favor of the Jews and generally showed "understanding" for the anti-Jewish reaction, even hushing up violent clashes (as, e.g., in Kiev). When Khrushchev became the ruling figure in the U.S.S.R. after Stalin's death, and particularly in the 1960s, the traditional hatred of Jews in the Ukraine was again allowed to find free expression in pseudo-scientific literature (e.g., the book by the professional antisemite Trofim Kichko, Judaism without Embellishment, which appeared in 1963 under the auspices of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences) and in various popular brochures and periodicals. This official anti-Jewish atmosphere prevailed in the Ukraine during the whole post-war period. The only synagogue in Kharkov was closed down in 1948 and its aged rabbi sent to a labor camp. In Kiev the only remaining synagogue was put under severe surveillance of the secret police, more than in other Soviet cities. Yiddish folklore concerts and shows were almost completely banned from the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, though they were allowed to take place occasionally in Ukrainian provincial towns.
An interesting reaction to this trend "from above" became noticeable in the late 1960s among Ukrainian intellectuals who openly strove to achieve more freedom in civil and national rights. Though engaged in defending the Ukrainian character of their republic against "russification," some of them went out of their way to emphasize their solidarity with Jewish demands for the revival of Jewish culture and education. They also identified with the Jewish attempt to keep alive the remembrance of the Holocaust against the official policy of obliterating it. Young Ukrainian writers, most of them Communist Party members, expressed this new trend in Ukrainian national thought in various ways, and even in labor camps after their arrest for "bourgeois nationalism." A particular impression was made in 1966 by the speech of the writer Ivan Dzyuba in *Babi Yar on the anniversary of the massacre (October 29). It was published only in the West, but it became widely known among Jews and educated non-Jews in the Ukraine.
From 1969 some Jewish families in Kharkov, Kiev, and Odessa were allowed to leave the U.S.S.R. for Israel. In the following two decades Jewish life continued to be repressed as in the U.S.S.R. as a whole. Religious life was centered in the synagogues. In the mid-1970s there were an estimated dozen functioning in the Ukraine. Many Jews were able to leave during the large wave of emigration in the 1970s, arriving largely in the United States and Israel. During the 1970s and 1980s Kiev became a major center of underground Jewish culture and pro-aliyah agitation. (For general developments, see *Russia.)
In Independent Ukraine
According to the Soviet census there were 487,300 Jews living in Ukraine in 1989. This figure included 100,600 in Kiev, 69,100 in Odessa province (city and surrounding oblast), 50,100 in Dnepropetrosk province, and 48,900 in Kharkov province. By late 1991 the number of Jews in the Ukraine was estimated at 325,000. The number of Ukrainian Jews emigrating from the late 1980s was the following: 1988 – 8,770; 1989 (to Israel) – 32,547; 1990 – 60,074, and 1991 (to Israel) – 41,264. The geographical breakdown of emigration for 1989–1991 (from 1990 only to Israel) was: from Kiev – 33,818; Odessa province – 19,741; Kharkov province – 11,945; Dnepropetrosk province – 7,501; and Zhitomir province – 5,005. Large-scale emigration continued through the 1990s. At the end of the process over 80% had left, leaving an estimated 84,000 in 2005.
Ukraine declared its independence on August 24, 1991, with the majority of the republic's Jews also voting for independence. On a number of occasions the leaders of the Ukrainian national movement "Rukh" expressed a positive attitude toward the Jews of the Ukraine and the desire to cooperate with them. To further that goal, an international conference was held in Kiev in June 1991 on Ukrainian-Jewish relations, with the participation of leading Ukrainian public figures. Ukrainian president Kravchuk spoke at the public meeting commemorating the 50th anniversary of the mass murder of Kiev's Jews at Babi Yar. In his speech the president acknowledged the Ukrainian people's share of guilt for the destruction of the Jews and asked for the Jewish people's forgiveness. He also called for the UN to support the initiative of U.S. president George Bush and rescind the UN resolution equating Zionism with racism. In 1990, before the splitting up of the U.S.S.R., four Jewish deputies were elected to the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian republic.
Under Soviet rule, Bogdan *Chmielnicki, the leader responsible for the unprecedented Cossack slaughter of Jews in the mid-17th century, had been considered a Ukrainian national hero. With the growth, however, of Ukrainian separatist feeling, Chmielnicki became less of a hero due to the fact that he had concluded a pact with Moscow which transformed Ukraine into a Russian colony. Today Simon *Petlyura (1879–1926) is considered the pre-eminent national hero since he headed the country during the brief years of its independence after World War I. Petlyura's responsibility for pogroms during the Civil War is denied by Ukrainian nationalists. In Ukraine the Jewish hero Shalom *Schwarzbard, who assassinated Petlyura in Paris for supporting the perpetrators of pogroms, is today viewed as having been a Soviet secret police agent.
Grass roots antisemitism has not disappeared in Ukraine. According to the results of a sociological survey conducted in November 1990, 7 percent of the population firmly believe in the existence of an international "Zionist" conspiracy, while 68 percent believe that such a conspiracy may exist; 10 percent believe that the Jews bear considerable responsibility for the suffering of other peoples (e.g., the Ukrainians) in the Soviet Union in the 20th century; and 20 percent believe that Jews have an unpleasant appearance.
A law on ethnic minorities grants Ukrainian Jews the right of national-cultural autonomy. In 1992 several Jewish publications appeared, including three (Vozrozhdenie-91, Evreiskie vesti, and Khadashot) in Kiev. Study (often by amateurs) of local Jewish history is being developed in the republics. The Jewish Culture Association of Ukraine was headed by Ilya Levitas; the rival Association of Jewish Public Organizations of Ukraine was headed by the co-chairman of VAAD of the CIS, Iosif Zisels.
In late 1991, 120 Jewish organizations were operating in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Jewish Congress was established in Oct. 1991. The American rabbi Yankel Blau was named chief rabbi of Ukraine. Several synagogues confiscated in the 1920s and 1930s were returned by Ukrainian authorities, among them those of the Jewish communities of Kharkov, Donets, Vinnitsa, Odessa, Lvov, Shepetovka, Kirovograd, and Drahobych.
In 1993 Leonid Kuchma was elected president of the Ukraine, which put an end to the moderate nationalist government in the country; Kuchma was regarded as a more pro-Russian leader, who favored closer ties with Moscow. The Black Sea fleet and the Crimean question continued to be, however, burning issues in the relations with Russia.
In April 1994, the Academies of Sciences in the Ukraine and in Israel signed an agreement on cooperation. In September 1995 Prime Minister Yitẓḥak Rabin paid an official visit to the Ukraine.
The main umbrella organization of Ukrainian Jewry in the 1990s was the Association of Jewish Communities and Organizations of Ukraine (VAAD). The Jewish Council of the Ukraine (JCU) was registered in the Ministry of Justice of the Ukraine in January 1993 as the second umbrella organization of Ukrainian Jewry. In the words of the Jewish activist Arkadii Monastyrsky, the JCU united all the Jews of the Ukraine, whereas the VAAD was merely a council of chairpersons of Jewish organizations. Despite the obvious rivalry between both federations, there was no lack of cooperation between them. In 1993 both rival umbrella organizations agreed on cooperation in such matters as Holocaust commemoration
The Solomon's University in Kiev, one of the four Jewish universities operating in the former Soviet Union, was formerly established in 1993. The International Memorial Foundation Ianovsky Camp was established in Lvov in the beginning of 1993. The newly established foundation issued a declaration in which it explained its goals: to liquidate a penitentiary colony at the site of the former Nazi camp in the outskirts of Lvov; to set up a memorial complex, which would include a Holocaust museum and the international center of documentation on the Jews of Galicia.
In March 1994, the training center for teachers in Jewish day and Sunday schools in the Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova opened in Kiev. It was supported by the JCU, VAAD, the Ukrainian Ministry of Education, and the Foundation for Culture and Education in the Diaspora.
There were 19 Jewish periodical publications in the Ukraine in 1993, among them 10 were issued only in Kiev, 2 in Kharkov, 2 in Dnepropetrovsk, 2 in Chernovtsy, others in Donetsk, Simferopol and Bershad. The papers were issued in Russian, Ukrainian, and, to a lesser extent – in Yiddish. The oldest and the most important Jewish newspapers were the monthly Vozrozhdenie-91 ("Revival-91"), the continuation of Vozrozhenie (see JDB, 1993, p. 364), Khadashot-Novosti ("The News"), and Evreiskie vesti ("Jewish Reports"), all published in Kiev.
A number of academic conferences on Jewish issues were held in the Ukraine. In October 1993 alone there were three such events: two international scientific conferences, "The Holocaust of Galician Jewry – Problems of History, Politics and Morality," held in Lvov, and "The Beilis Trial: Current Perspectives," held in Kiev; and the conference "Overcoming Chauvinism and Extremism – the Prerequisite for Inter-Ethnic Harmony and Civil Peace in the Ukraine," held in Kiev. At the end of 1994, the conference "Jewish Culture, History and Tradition" was held in Odessa.
Jewish communal life continued to flourish in the following years. By 2005 over 250 Jewish organizations were active and education had expanded into a network that included 14 Jewish day schools, 10 yeshivot, and 70 Hebrew and Sunday schools. Large and active Jewish communities thrived in Kiev, Kharkov, Odessa, and Dnepropetrovsk. In late 2004, a new Jewish community complex opened in Zaparozhye with a theater, gym, kosher kitchen, library, Jewish school, kindergarten, orphanage, and welfare center.
The All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress (AUJC), founded in 1997, united the country's disjointed Jewish organizations in order to promote the Jewish national renascence. It is a volunteer, independent action organization whose membership includes over 120 different public associations, cultural associations, and funds. Also in 1997 the Jewish Foundation of Ukraine was founded as a Jewish charitable organization collecting funds for needs of Jewish organizations and communities in Ukraine.
In 1998, a new umbrella organization, the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine (JCU), was founded, uniting the Association of Jewish Communities and Organizations of Ukraine (VAAD), the Jewish Council of Ukraine, the Union of Jewish Religious Organizations of Ukraine, and the Kiev Municipal Jewish Community.
Another group, the Congress of Jewish Religious Organizations, under Chabad Lubavitch, has also been active in recent years. The World Union for Progressive Judaism has a rabbi based in Kiev and additional Reform congregations operate in Lvov and Kerch; the World Union also runs leadership seminars as well as holiday and summer programs. The Masorti (Conservative) movement runs a Sunday school and youth group in Kiev, and operates day schools, youth activities, and summer camps in several smaller cities.
There were a number of right-wing nationalist and antisemitic groups in the Ukraine in 1993–94. Among the most conspicuous were the Organization of the Ukrainian Idealists, based in Lvov, the State Independence of the Ukraine party, and the Ukrainian National Assembly with its strong para-military wing "Ukrainian National Self-Defense" (IMAUNSO). The OUI managed to organize several mass rallies in Lvov, which attracted more than 2,000 participants each; at the rallies antisemitic placards were displayed, and anti-Jewish speeches delivered.
Riots broke out in September 1993 in Vinnitsa, where UNA-UNSO members picketed the offices of the city's Jewish mayor Dmitrii Dvorkis, whom they accused of being a mafia boss. Following the arrest of the leaders of the organization, approximately 10,000 people reportedly blockaded roads and demanded their release. In 1993–94 Dvorkis, as well as other Jewish mayors – Odessa's Eduard Hurvich and Donetsk's Efim Zviahilsky – became victims of antisemitic campaigns.
There were a number of antisemitic periodicals in the Ukraine in recent years: Nova Ukraina, Za vilnu Ukrainu ("For Free Ukraine"), Nezalezhna natsiia ("Independent Nation"), Holos natsii ("The Voice of the Nation"), Neskorena natsiia ("Unconquered Nation"), which in 1994 serialized the "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion." The main accusation of the Ukrainian nationalist press against the Jews has been their alleged organizing of the mass famine in the Ukraine in 1932–33. A columnist wrote in Neskorena natsiia in November 1994: "It is difficult to find a people who have done Ukraine more harm than the kikes. Compared to their crimes, all the misdemeanors of Moscow, Warsaw, and Berlin combined pale into insignificance." Antisemitism in the Ukraine, based on a long tradition, continued to raise its head into the early years of the 21st century.
[Daniel Romanowski (2nd ed.)]
I.I. Malyshevski, Yevrei v yuzhnoy Rusi i Kiyeve v X–XII vekakh (1878); Arkhiv yugo-zapadnoy Rossii, 5 pt. 2 (1890); M. Zilberfarb, Dos Yidishe Avtonomye in Ukraine (1919); L. Khazanovich,
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.