Jacob Sheinbach Family Society

Jacob Sheinbach

Family Society

Bar History

Bar History

For 800 years, the area around the town of Bar, in what is now southwestern Ukraine, was almost always in turmoil, subject to repeated invasions by Mongol tribes, efforts by eastern European nations to impose their rule, and uprisings by local groups, all of which made life there dangerous. Jewish people have lived there for 500 years.

Initially Bar was known as Rov because it lay on the Rov River. Historians believe it started as a trading settlement. In 1240 the settlement was burned in a Mongol attack. In 1362 Lithuanians defeated the Mongols and in 1434 it came under Polish rule. It was rebuilt in the first half of the 16th century and renamed Bar, a word in the old Ukrainian language meaning a marsh or wetland.

The town was purchased in 1537 by a Polish queen. She built a castle there and in 1540 the first families, Armenians and Jews, settled in. By 1546 some 30 surrounding villages relied on the Bar castle for protection from invaders.

In the earliest days the town was divided into three parts, each separately governed. Russian Bar, Polish Bar and Gorsky Bar. The word “shtetl”, which means street, was the street occupied by the Jewish residents.

In 1654 Bar was again ruled by Poland but in the 1600’s the area was partitioned between Poland/Lithuania, Russia and the Ottoman empire. During the Polish-Turkish war at the end of the 17th century the town and fortress were destroyed and never rebuilt. In 1793 the area came under the rule of the Russian empire and in 1917 was absorbed into the U.S.S.R.

In 1910 more than 10,000 Jews lived in Bar. Many Jews migrated after the Bolshevik pogroms. The Germans came in 1941, set up ghettos, and starved and killed many Jews. By 1993 only 199 Jews remained in Bar.