Ukraine: Jewish History and Culture
Kabbalistic Amulet: Jewish mysticism and Hasidism are important parts of Ukraine's Jewish heritage. According to tradition, Israel ben Eliezer -- Ba'al Shem Tov (1700-1760) -- father of the Hasidic movement, was born in Ukraine's Podolia province: "One who is full of joy is full of love for humanity and all fellow creatures."
Last Updated: 5 September 2005
- All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress: The All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress, the largest Jewish organization in Ukraine, is "a volunteer, independent-action organization, whose membership includes over 200 different public associations, cultural associations, and funds representing both the capital and all regions of the country. Among them are the All-Ukrainian Congress of Judaic Religious Societies, the Jewish Foundation of Ukraine, the All-Ukrainian Association of the Maccabee Organization, the Association of Jewish Organizations of Ukraine, B'nai Brith, and others."
After visiting The All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress Web site, you may contact the AUJC via e-mail, <email@example.com>, if you have any questions.
- Breslov -- "Judaism With Heart": Sponsored by the Breslov Research Institute and designed by Gary Sternberg, this site presents information on the teachings of the Hasidic Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810) and the activities of the Breslov Hasidic movement.
- European Council of Jewish Communities: This Web site introduces the European Council of Jewish Communities (headquartered in London); describes its activities and programs; and, offers links to other sites, including a "selection of links to some of the best Jewish sites on the World Wide Web and our country-by-country guide to Jewish community home pages." Of particular interest is Jewish Europe on the Internet.
The European Council of Jewish Communities is "a non-governmental organisation concerned with planning and co-ordinating action in the fields of social welfare, formal and informal Jewish education, leadership training and culture. With member communities and organisations in 35 countries, the ECJC builds and strengthens networks amongst communal leaders and professionals through an intensive programme of consultations, exchanges, targeted training and joint projects."
- FAQ on Hasidic Culture and Customs: According to Yonassan Gershom, the maintainer of this Web site, the presentation "is based on questions that I am often asked about my way of life by people in multi-cultural newsgroups and interfaith conferences. This FAQ is not intended to be an in-depth explanation of Hasidic philosophy. Rather, it is a set of basic Judaism 101-level questions written in a way that is understandable to the average non-Hasidic reader. In some cases, there is overlap between Hasidism and general Judaism here, since Hasidism is a form of Judaism. Many of these customs and practices are common to all Jews and are not necessarily limited to Hasidim only."
- Hasidism Books: A part of GuidingLight.com (a Web resource on books about world religions and spirituality), this Web site presents a listing of books about Hasidism; visitors to the Web page may learn more about any book of interest or purchase it on-line.
- Hasidism (Religious Movement Group Profile): Part of the Religious Movements Homepage Web project at the University of Virginia, this Web site includes a profile of the founder of Hasidism, Rabbi Ba'al Shem Tov; an overview of Hasidism; information on sacred texts; beliefs of the Hasidic movement; current issues (including the death of Menachem Mendel Schneerson in 1993); links to Hasidism Web sites; and, a bibiliograpy.
- Hasidism Overview: Created and maintained by Dr. Eliezer Segal of the department of Religious Studies at the University of Calgary, this site provides an annotated outline of the history and doctrines of the Hasidic movement, including a background to the rise of Hasidism; internal developments in the East European Jewish community; the life and teachings of Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, Ba'al Shem Tov; and, the subsequent development of Hasidism after the Ba'al Shem Tov. (Dr. Segal also maintains an electronic a Selected Bibliography on Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism.)
- International Solomon University: Founded on 31 March 1992 in Kiev, Ukraine, International Solomon University is "named the University after the Jewish king, Solomon, who is reverently remembered for his ability to heal conflicts and reconcile individuals." The aims of the university include: "reviving Jewish education and culture while promoting high-quality secular education"; preparing rabbis; and, "strengthening friendship between the Ukrainian and Jewish peoples." You may contact the university via e-mail at <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Institute for the Jewish Studies in the CIS: Providing information in Russian and English, this site offers information about the Institute, as well as links to other related Web sites -- such the Jewish Heritage Society, the ORT/Russia Web site, and the Youth and Student Club Home Page.
- International Yiddish Festival 1996: Created as a resource to accompany the Second International Yiddish Festival (24 November through 1 December 1996) in Amsterdam, this site offers information about the festival and extensive links to other World Wide Web sites; it remains active after the close of the conference.
- Into The Light -- 1989-1995 (Images of Ukrainian Jewry): This WWW photodocumentary was created by Dmitry Peysakhov: "In 1989-1995 I have spent much of my spare time photographically documenting remnants of Jewish culture and Jewish life in the Ukraine. The main reason is the importance of the moment. Currently we witness the next Exodus in the history of our people. More and more Jews are leaving the Ukraine and Belarus. These photographs are probably one of the last opportunity to document their way of life and Jewish sites in Eastern Europe."
Mr. Peysakhov adds that "the meetings with people who still live the kind of life that my and probably your grandparents, lived gave me much pleasure and my memories of these people will remain with me forever."
The Web site contains the following sections: Jewish Life In Kiev; Jewish Faces; Into The Light; Babi Yar; and, Cemeteries -- plus an appendix.
- Jewish Community of Ukraine: The Jewish community of Ukraine is "the fourth largest in the world (after the United States, Israel, and Russia) and numbers 550,000 people. Ukraine is one of the cradles of Jewish civilization. Jews have lived here for over a thousand years (authentic documented mentions of the flourishing of a Jewish community in Kiev go back to the tenth century)."
Demographically, the Jews of Ukraine are "mainly concentrated in Kiev (110,000), Dnepropetrovsk (60,000), Kharkov (45,000), and Odessa (45,000). Jews also live in many of the smaller towns. Western Ukraine, however, has only a small remnant of its former Jewish population, with Lvov and Chernovtsy each having only about 6,000 Jews. The majority of Jews in present-day Ukraine are native Russian/Ukrainian speakers, and only some of the elderly speak Yiddish as their mother tongue. (In 1926, 76.1% claimed Yiddish as their mother tongue.) The average age is close to 45."
- Jewish Communties of the World -- Ukraine: Hosted by Virtual Jerusalem with content provided by the World Jewish Congress, this site offers an overview of Jewish history and life in Ukraine. The Institute of the World Jewish Congress provides information on demography; history; community; culture and education; Jewish sites of interest in Ukraine; and, organizations of interest in Ukraine (e.g., the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Ukraine).
Please note that the World Jewish Communities Web presentation offers an "upclose look at Jewish life in 120 countries around the world."
- Jewish Heritage Travel in Ukraine -- Personal Experiences: This travel log by David A. Chapin describes his trip to Ukraine to visit the towns inhabited by his ancestors: "The area I was to visit was the former Podolia Gubernia (Province) of Tsarist times. Today, this same area is divided into two districts: Khmelnitsky Oblast and Vinnitsa Oblast."
- SOC.CULTURE.JEWISH Reading Lists: Maintained as a resource for the UseNet conference, soc.culture.jewish, these lists include resources on Kabbalah, mysticism, and messianism and Hasidism.
- Spoken Yiddish Language Project: Sponsored by the Yiddish Atlas Project at Columbia University, the Spoken Yiddish Language Project project is "an effort to bring Yiddish information and digitized samples to the Web based on data collected by the Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry."
- Ten Sefirot of the Kabbalah: One of several useful Internet references by Dr. Eliezer Segal of the department of Religious Studies at the University of Calgary, this site offers information about each of the ten sefirot of the Kabbalah: "The Jewish mystical doctrine known as Kabbalah ('Tradition') is distinguished by its theory of ten creative forces that intervene between the infinite, unknowable God (Ein Sof) and our created world."
- Vinnitsa Synagogue: The Web site of the main synagogue in Vinnitsa, Ukraine, provides a variety of information, in Russian, about the synagogue -- including contact information (postal, phone, and e-mail), a map of the synagogue's location in Vinnitsa, information on the community house and events, and related links to other Web sites. (Determine if your Web browser can display Cyrillic text.)
- Wolf Lewkowicz Collection: This collection of letters was written in Yiddish between 1922 and 1939 by Polish Jew Wolf Lewkowicz (of Konskie, Lodz and Opoczno, Poland) to Sol J. Zissman, his deceased sister's son. Wolf Lewkowicz died in Treblinka in 1943 at the age of 56. The on-line version of the collection contains only the English translations of the Yiddish letters. The complete set of The Wolf Lewkowicz Collection can be found at the Harvard College Library and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
- Yamada Yiddish WWW Guide: A project of the Yamada Language Center at the University of Oregon, this Web site offers a guide to Yiddish resources on the Internet -- including computer fonts; electronic discussion lists and conferences; and, World Wide Web sites.
- Yiddish Culture Forum: Sponsored by the Jewish Communication Network (JCN), this site is a discussion salon where visitors may "ask questions, raise issues, muse, joke and enjoy" -- by participating in discussions of Yiddish culture."
- Yiddish Home Page: A project of a literature class at the Academy for the Advancement
of Science and Technology, site is a resource for studying the
affect of the Yiddish language on the English language. It asks and answers the basic question "What is Yiddish?" and examines some of the Yiddish words found in English.
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