Jewish children went to public schools and then attended one of three “cheders” after school for religious instruction.

There were several synagogues, a Jewish cemetery and several charitable societies.

Anti-Semitic pogroms began as early as 1821, with destruction of Jewish property in the cities of Odessa and Kiev. The towns and villages remained peaceful for a few years, until, in 1887, a mob attacked and destroyed 175 Jewish homes and 14 shops in Ananiev. The Jewish community lived in fear, which only increased over the next 10 years.

Imperial Russia became a constitutional monarchy in 1906, but anti-Semitic outbreaks continued for years. Revolutionary agitation grew in the villages and the Cossacks descended on the villagers. 

By 1910, attacks included stampeding horses, broken windows and people being dragged through the streets. In 1914, Russia was drawn into World War I. The anti- Semitic pogroms escalated in 1917 and, in February of 1920, pogroms in Ananiev left more than 40 Jewish people dead, with many women raped. 

By May of 1920, another 60 had been killed. As the pogroms spread, small villages like Svatatroiske fell victim to assault. In oral histories recorded by members of the Nemetz family, followers of Ukrainian Symon Petliura and Russian Alexander Kerensky are vividly recalled as “these bandits,” who rode into villages on horseback setting fire to houses.

It is estimated that by the time the pogroms ended in the mid-1920s, over 35,000 Jews had been killed in the Ukraine and in Russia. 

With violence increasing and a shortage of food, Jewish families felt unprotected and afraid. They contacted relatives in the New World for help and made plans to emigrate as soon as they “got papers.” The first step was always to pack a small bag or “pecklah,” and take a three-hour horse and buggy ride to the nearest train station in Lyubashevka, 16 miles away, to begin their journey to faraway lands. The Nemetz family story is a part of this exodus. Several children of Abraham and Toba Nemetz became the first generation of Nemetzes to settle in Canada, bringing their parents and siblings to join them when they were able.