Bar is a town in Vinnitsa oblast, Ukraine. Bar passed to Russia at the second partition of Poland in 1793, and from 1796 to the 1917 Russian Revolution was a district capital in the province (government) of Podolia. The Bar community was one of the oldest in the Ukraine. Jews are first mentioned there in 1542. By an agreement concluded in 1556 with the citizens of Bar, the Jews were permitted to own buildings and had the same rights and duties as the other residents; they were permitted to visit other towns in the district for business purposes but were forbidden to provide lodging for Jewish visitors in the city. The agreement was formally ratified the same year by the Polish king Sigismund II.
The community grew during the second half of the 16th and the first half of the 17th century, and Jews from Bar engaged in trade in places as far away as Moldavia. According to a contemporary chronicler, the Bar community in 1648 numbered some 600 Jewish families, "men of wealth and standing." During the
uprising in that year, many of the Jews in Bar were massacred. There was a further slaughter of the Jewish inhabitants by Cossacks and Tatars in 1651. There were 17 houses (out of 107) in Jewish ownership in Bar in 1565, 23 in 1570–71, and approximately 20 in 1661. In 1717, authorization to erect a synagogue in Bar was granted by the bishop. After 1793, under Russian rule, the community also developed. The Jewish population numbered 4,442 in 1847, 5,773 in 1897 (58% of the total), and 10,450 (46%) in 1910. Between 1910 and World War I, Jews opened factories based on agricultural products, such as sugar, linen, tobacco, and vodka. They owned most of the shops in town, and the only pharmacy and were the majority of artisans. Twenty Jews in Bar lost their lives during a pogrom in the summer of 1919.
Religious and communal life came to an end with the establishment of the Soviet government. In the 1920s some 300 families lived from workmanship, 28 were clerks and workers, 150 heads of families worked in agriculture, some of them in a Jewish farm cooperative. The Jewish population totaled 5,270 in 1926 (55%) and 3,869 (total population – 9406) in 1939. In the 1930s 1,000 worked in various factories and 400 in industrial cooperatives; 53 families were members of a Jewish kolkhoz. The Germans occupied Bar on July 16, 1941. In December two ghettos were created, surrounded by barbed wire. On August 19, 1942, 3,000 Jews of the first ghetto were concentrated and kept for three days without food and water. In the nearby Jewish cemetery 1,742 Jews were killed, and the others, mostly young people, were taken to the abandoned ghetto, which turned into a working camp. On October 15, 1942, the 2,000 Jews of the second ghetto were murdered. Most of the working youngsters were killed one by one or died from hunger or diseases. Bar was liberated on March 25, 1944.
In 1993 there were 199 Jews living there.
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Bulletin of Rescue Committee of Jewish Agency for Palestine (May 1946), 6–8; M. Carp, Cartea Neagrǎ, 3 (1947), index; idem, Transnistria, Lebn, Leidn un Umkum (1950), 263.