Jewish communities have existed in the territory of Ukraine from the time of Kievan Rus' (one of Kiev city gates was called Judaic) and developed many of the most distinctive modern Jewish theological and cultural traditions such as Hasidism. According to the World Jewish Congress, the Jewish community in Ukraine constitute the third biggest Jewish community in Europe and the fifth biggest in the world.
While at times it flourished, at other times the Jewish community faced periods of persecution and antisemitic discriminatory policies. In the Ukrainian People's Republic, Yiddish was a state language along with Ukrainian and Russian. At that time there was created the Jewish National Union and the community was granted an autonomous status. Yiddish was used on Ukrainian currency in 1917-1920. Before World War II, a little under one-third of Ukraine's urban population consisted of Jews who were the largest national minority in Ukraine. Ukrainian Jews are comprised by a number of ethnic groups, including Ashkenazi Jews, Mountain Jews, Bukharan Jews, Karaite Jews, Krymchak Jews and Georgian Jews.
In the westernmost area of Ukraine, Jews were mentioned for the first time in 1030. In the name of Orthodox Christianity,[clarification needed] the army of Cossacks and Crimean Tatars massacred and took into captivity a large number of Jews, Roman Catholics and Uniates in 1648–49. Recent estimates range from fifteen thousand to thirty thousand Jews killed or taken captive, and 300 Jewish communities totally destroyed. During the 1821 anti-Jewish riots in Odessa after the death of the Greek Orthodox patriarch in Constantinople, 14 Jews were killed. Some sources claim this episode as the first pogrom. At the start of 20th century, anti-Jewish pogroms continued to occur. When part of the Russian Empire in 1911 to 1913, the antisemitic attitudes can be seen in the number of blood libel cases. In 1915, the government expelled thousands of Jews from the Empire's border areas.
During the 1917 Russian Revolution and the ensuing Russian Civil War, an estimated 31,071 Jews were killed during 1918–1920. During the establishment of the Ukrainian People's Republic (1917–21), pogroms continued to be perpetrated on Ukrainian territory. In Ukraine, the number of civilian Jews killed during the period was between 35 and 50 thousand. Pogroms erupted in January 1919 in the northwest province of Volhynia and spread to many other regions of Ukraine. Massive pogroms continued until 1921. The actions of the Soviet government by 1927 led to a growing antisemitism in the area.
Total civilian losses during WW II and German occupation in Ukraine are estimated at seven million, including over a million Jews shot and killed by the Einsatzgruppen and by their many local Ukrainian supporters in the western part of Ukraine. Ukraine had 840,000 Jews in 1959, a decrease of almost 70% from 1941 (within Ukraine's current borders). Ukraine's Jewish population declined significantly during the Cold War. In 1989, Ukraine's Jewish population was only slightly more than half of what it was thirty years earlier (in 1959). The overwhelming majority of the Jews who remained in Ukraine in 1989 left Ukraine and moved to other countries (mostly to Israel) in the 1990s during and after the collapse of Communism. Antisemitic graffiti and violence against Jews are still a problem in Ukraine.