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Encyclopaedia Judaica

Jews in Ukraine (01) 16th century - 1917

Jews arriving under Polish government - envy and Antisemitism against the "nonbelievers" - Jewish professions in the Pale of Settlement - pogroms since 1881 and emigration movement

from: Ukraine; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971, vol. 15

presented by Michael Palomino (2008)

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<Development and Distribution of the Jewish Settlement

[Khazar kingdom - Jewish flight from murderous "Christian" Middle Europe - and colonization by Polish government]

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 12th-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 16th (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 the other provinces - Volhynia, Podolia, Kiev, and *Bratslav - their proportion was only 11%.

[Dnieper is a border line for the Jews]

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 (col. 1514)

an absolute majority and 22% in localities where they formed 40-50% of the total population. In contrast, in the part of the Ukraine which lay beyond the Dnieper, in the provinces of Poltava and Chernigov (where about 225,000 Jews lived and constituted a majority in about two places only and 40% of the total population in three others), 65% of the Jewish population lived in 39 communities of more than 1,000.

The same situation obtained in "New Russia" (the provinces of Kherson, Yekaterinoslav, and Taurida) where over 500,000 Jews lived: 76% of the Jewish population was concentrated in 58 communities of over 1,000, and Jews formed a majority only in their agricultural settlements.

In 1897 Jews constituted 30% of the urban population of the Ukraine, 26% of them living in 20 towns, in each of which there were over 10,000 Jews. (col. 1515)


Economic Situation. [Jewish professions in Ukraine]

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, (col. 1515)

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.

[Situation in the Pale of Settlement: dominance of Jews in some professions]

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 (col. 1516)

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.

[Envy of the Ukrainian natives against the unbelieving Jewish rivals]

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 rebellions Cossacks, Ukrainians, and Greek-Orthodox the Jewish lessee [tenant] 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 [[definition by the "Christian" church!]], 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 *pogroms of 1881-82 broke out and spread through the provinces of the Ukraine. [...] (col. 1517)

[[Antisemitism became a sharp instrument of the Czarist government and by this there was a big Jewish emigration movement from Eastern Europe 1881-1914, see: Migration 1881-1914. The anti-Semitic "Christian" Orthodox church which gave the ground and was the main force for  Antisemitism is never mentioned in this article]].

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 *Hasidim 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 [[racist?]] *Hibbat Zion, the *Bilu, and the *Am Olam movements [[racist against Arabs?]] 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.> (col. 1518)
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Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Ukraine,
                            vol. 15, col. 1513-1514
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Ukraine, vol. 15, col. 1513-1514
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Ukraine,
                            vol. 15, col. 1515-1516
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Ukraine, vol. 15, col. 1515-1516
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Ukraine,
                            vol. 15, col. 1517-1518
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Ukraine, vol. 15, col. 1517-1518

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