Cherkassy

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CHERKASSY

CHERKASSY , district capital on the River Dnieper, Ukraine. Jews settled there in the 16th century. During the *Chmielnicki massacres in 1648 they fled from the city. They suffered again during the *Haidamack disturbances in the 1730s. The community numbered 171 in 1765; 1,568 in 1847; and grew to 10,950 in 1897 (37% of the total population) and 12,979 in 1910. Jews contributed to the development of the food industry. Many were employed in grain dealing and crafts. A group of tailors organized a cooperative in 1910. The community of Cherkassy suffered tragically during the civil war in Russia (1917–21): about 700 Jews were massacred there by followers of the Cossack hetman Grigoryev in pogroms in May 1919, and some 250 perished at the hands of *Denikin's army the following August. Later a Jewish self-defense organization was established with the aid of the Soviet authorities. It continued in existence until 1921, and hundreds of families took refuge in Cherkassy from the surrounding towns and villages. The Jewish population of Cherkassy numbered 10,886 in 1926 (28.2% of the total population) and dropped to 7,637 in 1939 (15%). In 1924, 67 Jewish families founded a farm cooperative, later turned into a kolkhoz. In 1925 a Jewish law court and police department were opened, operating until the beginning of the 1930s. Two Yiddish schools also operated in Cherkassy. The Germans occupied the town on August 22, 1941. A ghetto was established on November 10, and at the end of the month 900 Jews were murdered. The rest of the ghetto inmates were massacred in 1942. A Ukrainian women rescued 25 Jewish orphans. In 1959 there were 5,100 Jews in Cherkassy (6% of the total population). Most left in the 1990s, but Jewish life revived and a synagogue was opened in 2003.

bibliography:

A.S. Rosenthal, in: Reshumot, 3 (1923), 437–8; Y. Heilprin and Z. Ladejinsky, in: Naftulei Dor, 2 (1955), 154–9; E. Tcherikower, Di Ukrainer Pogromen in Yor 1919 (1965), 309–14.

[Yehuda Slutsky /

Shmuel Spector (2nd ed.)]

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