The town of Vinnitsa - center of theVinnitsa region, Ukraine. The first documentary data about the Jews refers to 1532. In the middle of 17th century there were several tens of Jewish families. When the town was captured by B.Khmelnitsky almost all the Jews were killed. Later the Jews began to settle again in Vinnitsa, but Haidamaks raids brought ravaging and destruction. From 1796 Vinnitsa was capitol of the state of Podolsk province.
The Jewish population of the town and the state was growing quickly. In 1897 there were 11689 Jews in Vinnitsa (more than 36% of the whole population). And there were 31035 Jews in Vinnitsa state. The most widespread occupation of Vinnitsa Jews was tailoring and trade with agricultural products. InOctober 1905 a massacretook place in Vinnitsa.There were many victims. After the revolution of 1917 the Jewish populationincreased. In 1926 there were 21800 Jews in the town (the total population was 58 thousand).
The religious community life of the Jews had stopped, butJewish cultural activity in Yiddish was within the limits allowedand was developing actively. The newspaper Proletarisher Emes was published, and there existed: the Jewish Pedagogical Institute, the Jewish primary and secondary schools, andJewish libraries.After30 years this activity began to reduce sharply. Many of the Jewish communists were arrested during terrorism of the period.
In summer 1941 Vinnitsa was captured by German troops. During Rosh-ha-Shana holiday (September 22, 1941) 28 thousandJews were killed by Nazis. Years had passed after the war and Vinnitsa became a large industrial town. Vinnitsa region includes also towns in which the majorityof the population was Jewish, such as: Zhmerinka, Kazatin, Mogilev-Podolski, Gaysin, Khmelnik, and Tulchin. In 1959 in Vinnitsa there were 19500 Jews (16% of the population). According to the census data of 1970, 42251 Jews lived in the region.
The Vinnitsa City Jews Community (VCJC) has existed in Vinnitsa for 7 years. From 1993 it has had official status and at present nearly 3000 people aremembers. The founder of the Vinnitsa City Jewish community and its chief since 1996 was Lubov Shaphir, who now lives in Canada. The main trends of activities are: culture, education, charity, work with youth, and leisure.The VCJC was created and is presently workingwith the all-round support from"Joint":
- sunday school "Mekhina-12", library;
- ensembles of singing and dancing;
- drama school, youth centre;- the Program for Saving theHeritage of the Jewish people;
- charitable centre of social and medical aid Hesed Emuna;
- charitable dining - room for indigents;
- women's club, as well as other clubs.In June 1996 a charitable restaurant for 100 poorer members of the community was opened in Vinnitsa with the active help of "Joint". At the opening ceremony Chack Hofman, the national director of "Joint", Meir Sisov, a regional representative from the Kiev section of "Joint", Aron Weis, a representative of "Joint" from Jerusalem, and Dmitri Dvorkis, the mayor of Vinnitsa were present. The opening of the restaurant in Vinnitsa was a bright event for the Jewish life of the city.
In the January, 1996 the first issue of "The Information Page", the newspaper of the Vinnitsa City Jewish community, started with the help "Joint", which subsequently turned into "Vinnitskaia Jerusalimka", commonly issued by the Vinnitsa City Jewish community, the charitable Jewish center "Hesed Emuna", and the regional Jewish community center "Mishpakha".You can subscribe to it.
In 1997 VCJC and Vinnitsa regional society of the Jewish language and culture, with the financial support from "Joint",began the television program "Mishpakha",which continues to be broadcast.
We arrange and celebrate all Jewish holidays, arrange meetings of shabbat, concerts, meetings with fellow-tribesmen from Israel, USA, England and other countries .
We are in close cooperation with Repatriation Centre, and we have a Sunday school. VCJC has established the Charitable Jewish Centre Hesed Emuna. It organizes and takes part in Jewish seminars,and vacation camps.
Fifty volunteer/ professionals work there. They are doctors, lawyers, psychologists, and teachers.
VCJC cooperated actively with other Jewish organizations of the town such as The Vinnitsa Regional Jewish Community Centre Mishpakha, the religious community, veterans of WWII, and former prisoners of theghetto and concentration camps. The Regional Society of Language and Culture of VCJC acts as a self-dependent structure.
It would be desirable to mark out the personal involvement during these years of the following representatives of "Joint" in Kiev region: Meir Sisov, Meir Evan, Vladimir Glosman and all the workers of the Kiev section of "Joint" . We are very grateful to them for their noble work.
It is the largest organization in the Vinnitsa region. At present VCJC represents the interests of the Jews of the town only, but it is ready to cooperate with any organizations, that operate within the regulated activities of VCJC. The distinctive feature of VCJC is that it is the first Jewish public organization in Vinnitsa in the post-soviet period, and the community is a source of new trends in social work.
TheVCJC still exists as the largest and most tolerant organization because many members of VCJC are simultaneouslymembers of other organizations. But it doesnt prevent them to be the members of the Town Community itself. If we examine it more deeply, we can assume that VCJC is the organization which is the legally registered community and it is the second home for every Vinnitsa Jew. And if one needs any help he may come here. Though we cant help him directly with money, every Jew may get free medical services, legal advices and consultations. Having a special status he may receive charitable assistance, etc.
We dont forget about religious activity.The Communitymaintains close contacts with the Town Judaic Community, and the Vinnitsa Religious Community of Progressive Judaism. One of the main spheres of activity is work connected with perpetuation of Jewish names of victims, those fallen during the Holocost.Memorials were created in such villages as Yakushentsy and Schitkiin the Vinnitsa region, with participation of VCJC. The reconstruction of places of Jewish mass shooting on Maksimovich street in the town of Vinnitsa, took place with the direct participation of VCJC.
There is a "Memorial Fund at VCJC, which exists specifically for the above-mentioned aim. If you want, you may help our sacred work with your contribution.
Our account number is No. 260033011034 in Regional Administration Board of PROMINVESTBANK of Vinnitsa, MFO 302571, ZKPO 21724890, Vinnitsa Town Jewish Community.Specify that it is for the Memorial Fund, or contact with the Community directly.
Great attention is paid to cultural concerns. VCJC is in close cooperation with the regional centre organizing public lectures concerning Jewish history and culture. Every week interesting lectures are given free of charge for anyoneinterested. The work with children is done with the financial help of the Jewish Community Development Fund in Russia and Ukraine, andthe methodological guidance of "Joint". The Jewish childrens group Tsiporim was created and has been working for about 3 years as akindergarten. The kindergarten pays a lot of attention to the general development of its children, andindividual focus is given to every one of the children in all age groups attending the Jewish groups according to their capabilities. As a result, every Jewish childdevelops appropriately. Little children go to the kindergarten,their second home, with love. Every day gives them the joy of discovery of ancient truths, wisdom of the Jewish people and their laws. Children share their impressions at home and young parents are also enriched. An additional functiuon of the kindergartenis the strengthening offamily, making one's roots deeper.