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Nikolayev

NIKOLAYEV

NIKOLAYEV , port on the Black Sea coast, Nikolayev district, Ukraine. The town was founded in 1789 and Jews settled there from its earliest days, engaging in commerce and crafts. Many of them moved there from Galicia. In 1830, among the inhabitants of the town were 24 Jewish families of merchants, 691 families of townsmen, and 424 individual Jews. In 1829 a government order prohibited the residence of Jews (with the exception of those serving in the army) in Nikolayev and *Sevastopol, using the existence of naval bases in the two towns as a pretext. The Jews were allowed two years to arrange their departure. The local authorities opposed the decree, arguing that the expulsion of the Jews would harm the development of the town; the expulsion was therefore postponed until 1834. At the beginning of the reign of Alexander ii the right of residence in the town was granted to Jewish merchants and industrialists (1857), and later also to craftsmen (1861). Many Jews lived in the villages and estates in the vicinity of Nikolayev, where they conducted their commerce. In 1866 all restrictions were lifted and the Jewish community of Nikolayev developed rapidly. In 1880 there were 8,325 Jews in Nikolayev, and in 1897 the number rose to 20,109 (21.8% of the total population). A native of the town, Moshe Katz, described Nikolayev in the early 20th century in his memoirs, A Dor Vos Hot Farloren di Moyre (1956). Jews suffered in the pogroms of May 1881 and April 1899. The pogrom of 1905 was averted by Jewish self-defense units. In the early 20th century the community supported 15 schools. During the Civil War (1919–20) the Jews of neighboring towns suffered severely. In 1926 there were 21,786 Jews (about 20.8% of the total population) in Nikolayev. A court held its sessions in Yiddish in the 1920s, and 5 elementary schools, a vocational school and a high school existed in Nikolayev between the wars. Many Jews worked in factories, including the steel plant, and in the shipyard. There were 25,280 Jews in 1939 in the city (15.2% of the total population). The Germans occupied the city on August 17, 1941. On September 21–23, 1941, the Germans murdered 7,000 Jews in the vicinity of the city. With the liberation of Nikolayev (March 1944), Jews began to return to the city. According to the 1959 census, there were 15,800 Jews (7% of the population) in Nikolayev, but the actual number was probably closer to 20,000. The last synagogue was closed down by the authorities in 1962. In 1970 there were 17,978 Jews in the Nikolayev district, but later in the 1990s many emigrated to Israel.

[Yehuda Slutsky]

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