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Kiliya


Jewish Cemetery Building

Kilia, an ancient small town, was founded 2700 years ago at the Danube River delta in close proximity to the Black Sea. This large river flows through eight European countries, making here deep and wide, providing the development of ports for the ocean ships.

Since the beginning, Kilia had a diversified population of Russians, Ukrainians, Lipovans, Moldavians, and Jews.

From 1920 through 1940, there were between 2400-2500 Jews in Kilia: merchants and tradesmen, rich and poor, middlemen and longshoremen, who worked shoulder to shoulder with the Russian longshoremen, carrying bags with grain up to 50-60 pounds.

Romanians occupied Kilia in 1918; however, they did not start the development of our city. There were no highways and railroads. There were only 4 classes of gymnasiums for a general town population of 20,000 and another 50,000 of the rural area. The Danube would freeze almost every winter and the town would become isolated for the several months.

The Jewish Community was better organized: 4 nice synagogues (the 'main' synagogue on Big Danube Street was considered as one of the luxury buildings of the town), school and day care “Tarbut”, youth organizations of different movements, library, drama class, sport groups, “Maccabi” brass orchestra, loan and savings bank, 2 houses for elderly and all of that – the social activity of the Jewish community.

Also, the Zionist activity started, fundraising for KEREN KALEMETA and KEREN GAYESRDA. Until 1940, about 50 families and chaluzim were able to leave for Palestine.

In 1940 the Jewish population warmly greeted the Soviet Army; however, Stalin's Soviet regime stopped all organized life of the Jewish population. Using the unlawful measures, several hundred Jews were expelled as “untrustful”. Some of them never returned. All 4 synagogues, school, library and Jewish community building were confiscated by the order. This was obvious discrimination, since from all 6 churches in Kilia, four were left intact and they are still active today.

source: introduction of Kilia Yizkor Book
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