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Israel & Christians Today

Biblical understanding about Israel

April 5, 2017

Preparing for Passover in Ukraine’s last shtetl

By Cnaan Liphshiz.. BERSHAD, Ukraine (JTA) — At first glance, this drab town 160 miles south of Kiev seems nearly identical to the settlements that dot the poverty-stricken district of Vinnitsa. Shrouded in a seemingly permanent cloud of smoke from wood fires — still the standard means of heating here — Bershad, population 13,000, features two rickety bridges over the polluted (and presently frozen) Dokhna River, roads traversed by Soviet-era clunkers and an utter absence of street lights. [Photo top right: Exterior of Bershad synagogue]. 

And like many far-flung Ukrainian towns, Bershad, too, has a small, aging Jewish population. The Jews persist here even though almost all of their relatives are living in the relative comfort of Israel or the United States.

But there is more to Bershad than meets the eye. 

A closer look at its unique history and architecture reveals something incredible: Bershad is one of Europe’s last remaining shtetls. This town near the Moldavan border, with a Jewish population of 50, is a living testament to the Jewish community’s incredible survival story — one that has endured despite decades of communist repression, the Holocaust and the exodus of Russian-speaking Jews.

Nowhere is the uniqueness of this Jewish community more evident than the Bershad synagogue, which was built from clay 200 years ago. Read the full article.

Exterior of Bershad synagogue


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