TIGHINA (ro) / BENDERY (ru) / BENDER (yid)

Tighina is known since 12-13th centuries due to the Genovian merchants. Not later than in the 15th century Jewish merchants passed through Tighina on the trade route between Galicia and North Moldova and the Crimea and Black Sea ports. The presence of the Jewish community there is first recorded in 1769, and a burial society was founded in 1793. There were 101 Jewish families living in Tighina in 1808 (about 1/3 of population). The Jewish population increased with the influx of immigrants into Bessarabia in the 19th century, numbering 4.297 in 1864 and 10.644 in 1897 (33.5% of the total population). Institutions of the community included a hospital founded in 1885, an old-age home, a secondary school founded in 1912, and an elementary school. In 1925, of the 1.526 members of the local Jewish cooperative loan-bank, 701 were employed in commerce, 363 in handicrafts, and 49 in agriculture. The community numbered 8.294 (26.4% of the total population) in 1930. The communal organization was dissolved and its institutions were abolished or nationalized when Bessarabia became part of Soviet Russia in June 1940. Under Soviet occupation after Molotov-Ribbentrop in 1940–41, wealthy Jews were exiled to Siberia, as were wealthy non-Jews.

In the beginning of the WW2 many Jews succeeded to fled out. On July 4, 1941, the Romanian army assembled the remaining 700 Jews in the local castle, and shot them. In Bendery an agreement was signed between Germany and Romania, on August 31, 1941, concerning the plan to deport Jews to Transnistria. After the liberation in September 1944, some 800 Jews returned, reestablishing the community.

In Tighina we should see a few well-preserved rededicated synagogues, an old Jewish cemetery, Holocaust memorial, and a famous Tighina fortress as a non-Jewish “side dish”.

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