After more than 70 years of non-existence, a Jewish Shtetl is now slowly reappearing in Ukraine.At their height, in the first half of the 19th century, Shtetls were the unique habitat of some 80 percent of East European Jews, who constituted two-thirds of world Jewry at the time. The late 18th century partitions of Poland brought approximately 900,000 Jews into Russia, where the government immediately confined them to a region in the western part of the Russian empire known as the Pale of Settlement.
The Shtetls became vibrant economic and religious centers, trading goods, particularly liquor, among themselves, and various Hassidic dynasties used the towns as their centers of Jewish study, until the Russian expansion and other forces began infringing on their way of life.
A diminished version of Shtetl culture endured in a small number of villages until World War II, which brought devastation upon the Ukrainian Jewish community. It was the Holocaust that finally destroyed the Soviet Shtetl. Approximately 1.5 million Ukrainian Jews were murdered, accounting for about 60 percent of the prewar population. German forces shot and killed nearly 34,000 Jews in just two days at Babi Yar, just outside Kiev, in one of the worst massacres of the war. Allied victory did not bring an end to Anti-Semitism in Ukraine.
Since pro-Russian insurgents took up arms against Ukraine's pro-Western government in 2014, more than 9,700 (as of November 2016) people have been killed in Ukraine. And more than 1.5 million people are estimated to be internally displaced (IDP). among the many IDPs are thousands of Jews who were living in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where heavy fighting and shelling occurred.
One Jewish Rabbi, seeing no end to the conflict, decided to push forward and rebuild a Jewish village (Shtetl), to host Jewish refugees, from the east. he purchased a piece of land in a suburb of Kiev (Anatevka), where a Shtetl already stood before WWII.In September 2015, some 20 families, totally deprived after abandoning everything behind in the East, moved into the wooden village. the idea is to build a community of 500 Jewish people.
Anatevka so far consists of five buildings: the synagogue, the refugee hostel, a carpentry shed, a single-family home that one refugee, Chaim, built for his family, and a large concrete pastel-colored day school.