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Anti-Semitism in Cherkassy Today


Esther Rechtschafner


After World War Two, Jews who had previously lived in Cherkassy, along with others, came to live in the city. The Jewish community grew. They currently live a decent life in Cherkassy. International Organizations help the Jews that live there today.  The question is whether there is a future for them. This question can be answered in this way: "so far, so good; but who knows what the future holds?"

Anti-Semitism still exists today, however. Sometimes we hear on the news of anti-Semitic actions in various places. When the Soviets were in Cherkassy, there was no official Anti-Semitism. The Ukrainian people did sometimes show a bit of Anti-Semitism. Now that there is Democracy, people are allowed to say and do what they want. National political and economic problems that the government is now facing are the source of Anti-Semitism. Officially, though, there is no Anti-Semitism today in Cherkassy.

About five years ago there were some Nazi signs placed on the Chabad Synagogue, and a sign placed in a garbage dump stating "this is the place for Jews". The municipality took the situation in hand, and since then the level of protection provided to the synagogue has been increased. When such incidents occur and can be photographed, the pictures are turned over to the police. The graffiti “are usually painted over”, but the police “will not do anything” unless someone is caught in the act.

The Progressive Synagogue is located between a court and a prison, so the congregation there feels "safe".

A lady who recently came on Aliyah from Cherkassy told me that important people of the community sometimes have special guards, even for walking in the streets. Another lady who also recently came to Israel on Aliyah, wanted to check her Jewish roots. Her husband had a Jewish Father (who came from a well-known Cherkassy family), so her entire family converted to Judaism. Her Christian relatives, who live in Cherkassy, asked her not to do so, for this may cause trouble for them.

All members of the Jewish community know that they are “safe”; but understand that they must be "aware".  An Israeli, visiting Cherkassy, knows not to say that he is from Israel. This was not always the case.

A few years ago, I heard from a young Jewish man from Cherkassy as to how he learned what being Jewish meant, and about his encounter with Anti-Semitism. He had a non-Jewish girlfriend and wanted to marry her. Her reply was "Do you really think that I would marry you? You are a Jew, and we do not lower ourselves and marry Jews".

Recent Jewish Cemetery information states that there has been no vandalism. This includes the Cherkassy area. I find this claim very interesting; should something be read between the lines?

A new historical museum recently opened in the Cherkassy area. This museum is devoted to the study of Hitler in the Cherkassy area.

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  • Last Modified: 02-17-2016

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