Vinnitsa

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VINNITSA

VINNITSA, town in Vinnitsa district, Ukraine. The earliest information available on the Jews of the town dates from 1532: there is a mention that year of the wealthy Jewish merchant Mekhel, who traded with Turkish Moldavia (in livestock and wool cloth). Until the end of the 18th century, the community remained rather small and suffered from the attacks of the Ukrainian rebels who fought against Polish rule (*Chmielnicki, the *Haidamacks), the oppression of the Polish governors and mayors, as well as from the wars which brought about the disruption of commerce on the nearby borders. In 1776, 381 Jews belonged to the kahal of Vinnitsa; of these, 190 lived in the town and the rest in the surroundings. The Russian annexation (1793) resulted in continuous growth of the Jewish population in the town and its region. The census of 1897 found 11,689 Jews (over one-third of the population) living in the town and in 1910, there were 20,257 Jews (45.5% of the total population). They earned their livelihood mainly in tailoring and from commerce in agricultural produce. The community of Vinnitsa did not suffer in 1919–20 because the town served as the regional capital of the successive governments in the region. In 1926 there were 21,812 Jews (41%). The *Yevsektsiya waged a savage campaign to destroy the religious and national life of the Jews of Vinnitsa, and the town became a center of its activities throughout Podolia. A Jewish pedagogic institute was established and during the late 1930s, a Communist Yiddish newspaper (Proletarisher Emes) was published in Vinnitsa. A few months after the occupation of the town by the Germans, on Rosh Ha-Shanah, Sept. 22, 1941, 28,000 Jews of the town and its surroundings were exterminated in Vinnitsa. According to the 1959 census, there were about 19,500 Jews (c. 16% of the total population) in Vinnitsa. The former Great Synagogue was closed by the authorities in 1957 and converted into a storehouse.

Though most of the Jews had left in the mass emigration of the 1990s, by 2005, Vinnitsa had a Jewish day school and a club for Hebrew-speaking youth. A new education center was being built.

bibliography:

Y. Zusmer, Be-Ikvei ha-Dor (1957), 267–80; E. Bingel, in: Yad Vashem Studies, 3 (1959), 303–20.

[Yehuda Slutsky]