Overview

As the capital and largest city of Ukraine, Kyiv is the center of Jewish life in Ukraine. It hosts the largest numbers of Jews and the offices of the main Jewish organizations.

 
 
 
 
 
History

 

The history of Kyiv is the history of Ukraine. It is therefore impossible to talk about the city without first talking about the entirety of Ukrainian history.

Ancient and Medieval History

The early history of Kyiv is fairly unclear and relies heavily on myth. The story goes that the city was founded in the late 5th century by the brothers Kyi, Schek, and Khoriv, and their sister Lybid. There are many alternatives that have been put forth by historians. What the evidence does show is that it spent most of its early history as an outpost of the Turkic Khazar Khaganate, which is also where Kyiv’s Jewish first takes root.

 

While Kyiv itself was primarily inhabited by the Polans tribe of Eastern Slavs, the Khaganate it was subject to was a large, multi-ethnic, multi-religious, empire whose influence stretched from modern Armenia to Moscow, and Moldova to Turkmenistan. It was similar in most ways to the other steppe horse-empires that came before and after it, but what makes it stand out was that the ruling class were converted to Judaism. Kyiv appears to have had a Jewish neighborhood that began in this time called Kozare, located on the riverfront of today's Podil district. The area is now mostly warehouses, auto garages, etc.

Northern Podil Riverfront

 

In the 8th and 9th centuries, the Norse Varangians gradually expanded into the lands of Kyiv. The city was a vital trading post at the confluence of the Dnipro and Desna rivers and the midpoint on the “Trade Route from the Varangians from the Greeks,” which connected Scandinavia to Constantinople. The Kyivan Rus state became the largest country in Medieval Europe and Kyiv was its wealthy and cultured center. Rurik’s dynasty ruled over Kyivan Rus and the polities that came after for 700 years. During the Rus period, the primary Jewish neighborhood was near the “Jewish Gate,” what is now Lviv Square.

 

The era of Kyivan Rus came to an end in 1240. Batu Khan, Ghenghis Khan’s most accomplished general who was then serving under Ghengis’s son Ogedai, conquered the country and sacked Kyiv. Most of the inhabitants of the city, Jew or gentile, were either killed or fled. In the following decades of struggle against the Mongols, Kyiv eventually came under the control of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, while Rus’s Northeastern territories remained vassals of the Mongols.

Lviv Square

 

Early Modern History

Lithuania solidified its control over the Kyivan lands after the Battle of Blue Waters in 1362, which marked the beginning of a new chapter in Kyiv’s history and that of its Jewish community. Lithuania was the most religiously tolerant country in Europe at the time, in large part due to its complex religious demographics. The nobility only converted to Catholicism two decades after Blue Waters, but a lot of the Lithuanian peasantry held onto paganism. The Lithuanians then ruled over a population that was mostly made up of Orthodox Christian Ruthenians (the predecessors to today’s Ukrainians and Belarusians). And all this was on the backdrop of conflict with the Catholic Crusading Order of the Teutonic Knights, Muslim steppe hordes, and Orthodox Muscovy. This delicate balance, and influence from the similarly tolerant Kingdom of Poland, made room for Jews to be treated as another social estate, which was first enshrined in the Charter of 1388 to the Jews of Trakai. However, Kyiv was still a much-diminished and far-off frontier area and did not benefit as much from this as Trakai, Brest, Grodno, Lutsk, and Minsk.

 

The Lithuanian conversion to Catholicism was part of the Union of Krewo of 1385, when Grand Duke Jogaila of Lithuania married Queen Jadwiga of Poland, which began the long process of the two countries being more and more intertwined. This built up to the Union of Lublin in 1569, when the two merged into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Union of Lublin also placed Kyiv, along with most of modern Ukraine under the Polish half of the Commonwealth. As such, Kyiv more fully entered the world of Polish Judaism. Sigismund II Augustus Jagiellon (reign 1548-1572), the signer of the Union, granted the Jews of Kyiv equal rights and responsibilities as the Christian townspeople. His ancestor, Casimir IV Jagiellon (reign 1440-1492), was famously friendly to the Jewish people and invited them to settle in Poland while the rest of Europe was doing expulsions.​

 

The reign of Sigismund II Augustus, and the early Commonwealth period for the next 150 years, was a Golden Age of Jewish culture. Jews were allowed governance through the locally-elected Kahals, Jewish courts were allowed broad authority over their communities and even in inter-religious disputes, and a Chief Rabbinate was given official state sanction. Later on, Poland established the Council of Four Lands, a centralized legislature to govern the country’s Jews. Kyiv was counted as part of the Volhynian lands with its capital in Ostroh.

 

The Golden Age came to an end in the mid-1600s. Jews had found themselves in a delicate place in between Catholic Poles and Orthodox Ukrainians, and in between the increasingly powerful nobility and increasingly abused peasantry. Jews were seen as a profitable class to protect by the greater nobles, but outside the power of local nobles, were competitors with the Christian merchants, and held the debts of and collected taxes from the peasants. Meanwhile, more and more peasants fled the confines of serfdom to join the Cossacks, frontiersmen centered around modern Zaporizhzhia, and defined themselves more and more in terms of Orthodox Christianity in defiance of their Catholic lords.

 

These tensions reached their apex in the Khmelnytsky Uprising (1648–1654). Ukrainians remember it as the time when they threw off the heavy yoke of the Polish nobles, and as a crucial moment in the formation of the Ukrainian nation. For Jews, it was a bloodbath the likes of which was not seen in Ukraine before and would not be seen again for centuries. Jews were associated with the nobles, and were killed alongside them. The Cossacks took Kyiv early on Christmas Day of 1648, and a pogrom came with him. The rebellion ended with the Treaty of Pereyaslav, which made the Cossacks into a dependency of the Tsardom of Muscovy. The continued fighting between Moscow and Warsaw was ended by the Treaty of Andrusovo in 1667, which ceded Kyiv to Muscovy.

 

The Rebellion and the decades of warfare and instability that followed devastated the Jewish community. Many people were killed and the organized Kahals lost a great deal of their legitimacy, leading to an explosion in populist, mystical movements. In the Ottoman Empire, Sabbatai Zevi used the carnage as proof that the Messianic era was nigh and he was the Messiah, though this was followed by a collective disappointment when he converted to Islam. Kyiv, though, began another ideological movement. When Moscow took Kyiv, the scholars of the Kyiv Academy and the priests of the Cave Monastery came with it. Their ideas merged with Muscovy’s ambitions to create the foundations of a new nation with a self-declared mandate to unite the lands of the former Kyivan Rus and the believers in Orthodox Christianity: Russia. And the Ukrainian Cossacks, looking for autonomy with only the protection of Muscovy, watched their rights abused even worse than under the Poles they just escaped.

 

This is also where Kyiv’s Jewish history hits pause. Jews were not legally allowed to live in the city again until Poland was finally destroyed in 1793. The city was too strategically sensitive and the Moscovite Tsars too antisemitic.

 

19th-20th Century History

Following the three partitions of Poland in the late 1700s, and the bulk of its territory being annexed by Russia, the Russian Empire went from having a fairly small population of Jews, to having the largest Jewish community in the world. Empress Catherine II (r. 1762-1796) decided that Jews would be able to live in the former Commonwealth lands, but not in the older Russian ones. This “Pale of Settlement” where Jews were allowed to live was further formalized during the reign of her grandson Nicholas II (r. 1825-1855). The rules that covered Kyiv, as a major city, varied a great deal over time over how many Jews were allowed to live within its borders and what they were allowed to do. The countryside around the city was much less heavily regulated.

 

The Jewish community of Kyiv was built up gradually throughout the 19th century. Initially, Jews were allowed to come to Kyiv to trade and settle, primarily in the Pechersk District. The area that is now the Botanical Garden was once a cemetery from this period. However, this situation was very tenuous and they were expelled in 1827. But, large numbers of Jews still passed through the city to trade even if they could not stay.

 

The expulsion was lifted in 1859. The first parts of the new Jewish population of the city were mostly made up of soldiers in the garrison and veterans who were given special permissions to settle where they otherwise were banned from. Later, Jewish merchants were given permission to settle in the Podil neighborhood. Later, they were allowed to move to the upper town. If, of course, they could afford to. These permissions were later extended to artisans and other workers, especially as industrialization led to an increased need for an urban workforce. By 1913, the city was roughly 1/3 Jewish. Most were split between the more affluent area around what is now Besarabska Square, and the working-class neighborhood of Podil.

 

Jews left a huge mark on the city as it was developing into the modern world. Perhaps the city’s most important business magnate of the late 20th century was Lazar Brodsky (1848-1904), whose family made its fortune in the sugar beet industry. In addition to the main synagogue of the city, which bears his name, he also funded the construction of Besarabsky Market, the Polytechnic Institute, and many other educational, medical, and cultural institutions. David Margolin (1850-1925) was a shipping magnate who directed the construction of much of Kyiv’s tram infrastructure. The engineer who actually designed the tram system was Arthur Abrahamson, who also built the funicular. The architect whose designs most typify old Kyiv was Lev Borisovich Ginzburg, who built, among many others, the Philharmonic, Operetta Theater, National Art Museum, and the tallest skyscraper in the Russian Empire, the Ginzberg Tower, though it was destroyed in WWII and the Hotel Ukraina now stands in its place.

 

There was also a blossoming of Jewish culture and political life in this time period. Sholom Aleichem, one of the giants of Yiddish literature, was born in the nearby town of Pereiaslav and spent much of his life in the city. His works were the basis for the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof. Kyiv's factories and workshops were fertile ground for the General Jewish Labor Bund in Lithuania, Poland, and Russia, a secular, socialist labor union. Others turned their eyes on the Land of Israel and prepared for emigration.

 

However, while the gains made by the Kyiv Jewish community in the late half of the 19th century were haunted by a surge in political antisemitism. In 1881, a group of radical revolutionaries assassinated Tsar Alexander II. Though most of the assassins were ethnic Russians, reactionaries in the government, church, and press blamed the attack on Jews. This led to a widespread series of pogroms throughout the southern parts of the Empire, with the worst of them in Kyiv. Alexander II’s more conservative son Alexander III (r.1881-1894) and grandson Nicholas II (r.1894-1917) weaponized antisemitism in order to keep criticism pointed away from themselves. Much like with the assassination of Alexander II, the revolution of 1905 was followed by pogroms. The apex of these political forces was the Beilis Affair in 1913, when a Kyiv Jewish worker named Menahem Mendel Beilis was falsely accused of killing a Christian teenager. While Beilis was eventually acquitted, it drew the full attention of the Empire’s most rabid antisemites.

 

The First World War began the next year.

"Guest House" Market, Site of Black Hundreds Pogrom in 1905

 

Kyiv was far enough away from the front line not to be directly touched by the war, but the turmoil that it caused was stirring in its factories, cultural centers, and reading circles. As the war wore down on society, the February Revolution tore down the monarchy. One of the few acts that Revolutionary Provisional Government was able to take before itself being overthrown by the Bolshevik October Revolution was the abolition of the Pale of Settlement. Then, after the Communists withdrew from the war with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the War of Ukrainian Independence. Kyiv changed hands multiple times between the White Army, Red Army, Central Rada, Hetmanate, and Directorate. This was often accompanied by antisemitic violence. The most notable of the Civil War-era pogroms were the Kyiv pogroms of 1919, when White Army forces and sympathizers ramaged in the city and the surrounding towns.

Even with all of the communal violence of the Civil War/Revolutionary Period, the interwar Ukrainian National Republic was still, on paper, one of the most progressive in the world when it came to Jewish civil rights. There was a Ministry of Jewish Affairs and representation from multiple Jewish political parties in the national government. You can read more on this in my 1917 Jewish Voter's Guide.

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Kyiv City Teacher's House, Original Home of the Revolution-era Central Rada

 

Following the Bolshevik Victory in 1921, Jewish communal organizations either fell in line or were destroyed. Religious life was heavily persecuted. The only synagogue that was allowed to operate throughout the Soviet period was the Podil synagogue, with the other being converted to other uses. But, secular culture continued to thrive in a Communist context. At least, it did for the first decade or so. As Stalin consolidated power, many Jews were eliminated in the Purges.  A good example of this arc is Moishe Litvakov, a left-wing Zionist who was a part of the government in the Ukrainian National Republic. In the early Soviet period, he joined with the communists and became a figure in Jewish cultural academia, working to make a proletarian idea of Jewishness. Then, in 1937, he was executed as a "Trotskyist." Leon Trotsky, Stalin's arch-nemesis, was a Ukrainian Jew and the accusation of Trotskyism was used as an antisemitic bludgeon.​

 

Nazi Germany began its invasion of the Soviet Union in June of 1941, and captured Kyiv on September 26th of that year. Three days later, the German military, along with local collaborators in the police, executed over 33,000 people at Babi Yar, on the outskirts of the city. You can see more about the commemoration of the Holocaust and the other tragic events of WWII in my Short Guide to Babi Yar.

 

By the time of the re-conquest of the city by the Soviets in November of 1943, Jewish life in Kyiv had been exterminated. And as the war ended, Stalin's campaign against Jews began. During the war, many of the Yiddishists and other Jewish activists who had suppressed, or at best sidelined, during the 1930s, were re-organized as the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee and tasked with building international support for the Soviet war effort. Many of them, such as David Bergelson, founder of Kyiv's Yiddish Culture League, were executed on the Night of Murdered Poets on August 12th, 1952.

 

Stalin's death on March 5th, 1953 meant the end of the worst of the Soviet persecutions, but the rest of the Soviet period still saw Jews being repressed by workplace and university quotas, and public expression of Jewishness was treated with suspicion at best. Following the Suez Crisis in 1956 and the Six Day War of 1967, the language of Soviet antisemitism was reconfigured from Anti-Trotskyism and Anti-Cosmopolitanism to Anti-Zionism. A notable part of the anti-Soviet resistance came from the Refuseniks. Essentially, to leave the country required a visa, and the record of having applied for an exit visa meant that someone would be denied jobs, housing, etc. Jews who attempted to leave the Soviet Union, usually for Israel or the United States, were called Refuseniks because they were refused those visas and were often sent to prison instead. They were often, but not always, tied to other political movements as well. The plight of the Refuseniks was a major cause for non-Soviet Jews up until the 1980s, and Ukrainian refuseniks like Natan Sharansky continued their political activism long after the USSR dissolved. Meanwhile, the site of Babi Yar itself became a focal point for the dissident movement.

Gorbachev's Perestroika policies after 1986 meant that the government lifted a lot of the restrictions on Jews. For example, the city's official Rabbinate was reinstated in 1987.

 

Post-Independence History

The heads of the Ukrainian, Russian, and Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republics dissolved the Soviet Union on December 26, 1991. Though, it was more of a gradual process than an overnight change. Taking full advantage of their newfound freedom, the Jews of Kyiv opened community, cultural, and academic institutions in the early 1990s that would have been beyond the Pale the decade before. The Menorah monument at Babi Yar was opened in September of 1991, just months prior. However, with the last of the barriers to emigration removed, many of Kyiv's Jews also chose to emigrate. Brighton Beach in New York and Haifa, Israel were seen as preferential alternatives to the economic chaos and political uncertainty of the 1990s.

The most recent chapter of Kyiv's Jewish history came with the Revolution of Dignity, Euromaidan, in 2014-2015 and the following Russian invasion of the country. The country as a whole has seen a renaissance of civil society, and Jewish Ukrainians have been a part of it. Meanwhile, internally displaced persons fleeing the warzone in Donbas have resettled in Kyiv, and the Donetsk Jewish Community has moved its congregation to Podil.

This guide is a outline of what the shape of Jewish Kyiv looks like today.

 
Working Synagogues
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Donetsk
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Brodsky Synagogue

Galician Synagogue during Purim

Kedem Synagogue

Orach Chaim Synagogue

Atykva Progressive Synagogue

Address: Yaroslavska St. 6

http://reformkiev.com/

Atykva is the flagship synagogue of the Reform movement

in Ukraine. It was opened in 2013 and is overseen by Reform Chief Rabbi Oleksandr Duhovnii. It takes up a floor of an office building in Podil and is a very modern facility.

Brodsky Synagogue

Address: Shota Rustavelli St. 13

http://sinagoga.kiev.ua/

 

Brodsky synagogue was constructed in 1897 on the estate of sugar magnate Lazar Brodsky. It was meant as the city's central choral synagogue in the more upper-class center. During most of the Soviet era, it was a puppet theater. Today, it is a Chabad congregation headed by Rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman, one of the claimants to Chief Rabbi of Ukraine.

Chabad-Lubavitch of Kyiv (Beit Menachem)

Address: Pankivska Street 14

https://www.chabadkyiv.org/

This is the official Chabad-Lubovitch representative in Ukraine, headed by Rabbi Jonathan Markovitch.

Kedem Synagogue (Donetsk Jewish Community)

Address: Nyzhnii Val Street 19

https://www.djc.dn.ua/

Kedem's story is a tragic one. This congregation, under Rabbi Pinhas Vyshedski, was originally in Donetsk. However, the Rabbi and much of the congregation fled Donetsk during the Russian invasion of the city. They rebuilt in Podil.

Galician Synagogue

Address: Zhylianska St, 97/2

http://midrasha.net/

The Galician synagogue, near the train station, was built in 1909. It served the needs of the merchants in the nearby Jewish Bazaar. During the Soviet period, it was turned into a cafeteria for the adjacent Transsignal factory.

Masoret Kyiv Community

Address: Bratska St, 6/13

https://www.facebook.com/masoretinkiev/

Masoret is the representative of the Conservative Movement in Kyiv.

Orach Chaim Podil Synagogue/Tailor's Synagogue

Address: Shchekavytska St, 29

Orach Chaim, also known as the Tailor's Synagogue or Podil Synagogue, is the oldest dedicated synagogue in Ukraine, and the only one that remained in operation throughout the Soviet era. It is headed by the other claimant to the Orthodox Cheif Rabbinate, Rabbi Dov Bleich. It is affiliated with the Karlin-Stolin Hasidic dynasty.

Orthodox Synagogue

Address: Mezhyhirska St. 37

This is another Karlin-Stolin-affiliated synagogue in Podil.

Brodsky
 
Where to Eat
Schawarma

Kipish Kosher

Taki da

Taki Da

Tel Aviv Bar

Tel Aviv Bar

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Adelle

Kosher

Kashrut Certification in Ukraine is overseen by the Ukrainian Kashrut Committee, which is run by Rabbi Vishedski of the Donetsk Jewish Community. For more information, visit kosher.org.ua/.

Cafe Beyt Yehuda

Shota Rustaveli 13

facebook.com/kievkosher

Cafe Beyt Yehuda is located in the basement of Brodsky Synagogue. It is quite inexpensive and its menu is not unlike a usual Ukrainian cafe, except for being kosher.

 

Cafe Podol

Shchekavytska 29

Much like Beyt Yehuda is the budget cafe attached to the Brodsky synagogue, Cafe Podol is a budget cafe attached to the Podil Synagogue.

 

Kipish

Shota Rustaveli 13

instagram.com/kipish.kosher/

Kipish is a food truck parked outside of the Brodsky synagogue where you can get the staples of Israeli street food: falafel, schawarma, hummus, and sabich

 

Taki Da

Shchekavitska Street 29

takida.best

 

Tel Aviv Bar

Yaroslavska Street 10

tlv-kshr-bar.business.site/

This is a newer addition to the kosher field, and a bit of a unique one. Tel Aviv Bar is a kosher dive cocktail and hookah bar in the heart of the Podil district, itself the center of the Kyiv bar scene.

Non-Kosher

Adelle

Velyka Vasylkivska, 29

gusovsky.com.ua/restaurant/adelle

Adelle feels like it was plucked out of Tel Aviv and dropped in downtown Kyiv. From the kabobs to shakshuka, highly recommended.

 

All True East

Antonovich Street 1

alltrueeast.com/en/

Similar in style to Adelle, All True East is done in the style of a Tel Aviv cafe.

 

Golda Pita Bar

Shota Rustaveli Street 12

instagram.com/golda.music.bistro/

Golda Pita Bar is heavy on the bar part of the name. It is a cocktail bar near the Bessarabian Market. The pitas are more of a bar snack. The name comes from this being the former neighborhood of Golda Meir.

 

Matsa and Oysters

Dniprovska Embankment 14

facebook.com/matzaoysters

The non-kosherness is given in the name, they specialize in the very traif oysters with matza. The inspiration comes more from the very Jewish and very nautical southern city of Odesa.

Pita Kyiv

Pushkinskaya 39, Petra Sahaidachnoho 31

pitakyiv.com

Pita Kyiv is one of the more diverse pita restaurants in Kyiv. The classic schnitzels and schawarmas are joined by steak and egg and Beyond Meat. They have two locations.

 
 
 
 
Pita Kyiv

Pita Kyiv

 
 
 
Where to Shop

 

Kosher Groceries

Kashrut Certification in Ukraine is overseen by the Ukrainian Kashrut Committee, which is run by Rabbi Vishedski of the Donetsk Jewish Community. For more information, visit kosher.org.ua/.

 

Super Brodsky: The only dedicated kosher grocery store in Kyiv is Super Brodsky, located next door to the Grand Choral Synagogue.

 

Address: Shota Rustaveli St, 13

 

Silpo: The grocery store chain Silpo contains a kosher section, though it is quite small. Typically not much more than some snacks and a few bottles of wine.

 

Address: Various, fairly common store

Judaica and Other Goods

Aleph alephcenter.com.ua/about/

Jewish Book Shop jewishbook.com.ua/

Kosher Style kstyle.com.ua/

 
 
 
 
Museums and Monuments

Jewish

Shalom Aleichem Museum 

Velyka Vasylkivska 5A

sholomaleichemmuseum.com/

This museum is located on the site of Sholom Aleichem's home, though not the original building.

Shalom Aleichem Statue

Rognedinskaya 3

Holocaust and Heroism Museum Nimanska 7

Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial Center

babynyar.org/en

The BYHMC is a private initiative currently building memorials on the Babi Yar site, though it is a complicated process.

Some Jewish Content

One Street Museum

Andriivs'kyi Descent 2B

onestreet.kiev.ua

One Street Museum catalogs the history of Andrievsky Descent, formerly a heavily Jewish neighborhood. Small but charming and engaging.

Museum of Historical Treasures of Ukraine

Lavrska 9

 
 
 
 
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Sholom Aleichem Museum

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Sholom Aleichem Statue

 
 
 
Historic Sites

 

Prior to the Second World War, there were two main Jewish neighborhoods. The first was Podil, which was the city’s port area and the home to more of the poorer working class. Wealthier Jews tended to live more in the downtown area, especially around the Bessarabian Square.

Downtown

 

Berner House: (Shevchenko Boulevard 3) The Berner House apartment building, in view of the Bessarabian Market was once the home of the wealthy Jewish Bogrov family. The son, Mordecai (aka Dmitry) Bogrov, joined up with the Revolutionary movement after studying the philosophy of anarchism. To further this cause, Bogrov assassinated Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin during a performance with The Tale of Tsar Saltan at the Kyiv Opera House on September 14, 1911. The Tsar himself was also in attendance. Bogrov was captured and executed.

 
 
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Bessarabian Market: (Bessarabian Square) The Bessarabian market was once the most important market in Kyiv, and still is a good place to find high-quality produce, caviar, etc. Its construction was funded by Lazar Brodsky to serve as the centerpiece of the downtown area.

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Former Jewish Tenement House: (Shota Rustaveli 15B) The tenement house right next door to Brodsky Synagogue was the site of a very interesting event. Here, in October of 1917, Joseph Trumpledore, who fought in the Russo-Japanese War and was the most decorated soldier in the Imperial Russian army, helped found an organization for Jewish veterans of the First World War. Their goal was to form self-defense units to protect Jews around Ukraine. He had made aliyah to Ottoman Palestine before the war and fought for the British in the Jewish Legion during it. His broader goals in post-Revolutionary Russia were to encourage agricultural emigration to Palestine and to convince the Provisional Government to continue the war by invading the Ottoman Caucasus to reach the Land of Israel from the North. That last part failed, and he returned to Palestine in 1919. He died defending Tel Hai in 1920, and is recognized as one of the founders of the Israeli Defense Forces.

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Golda Meir’s House: (Baseinaya 5A) This is where Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir was born in 1898. She did not live here long, as rumors of pogroms led the family to move to Pinsk, Belarus in 1903, then Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1905. He is best remembered for being the Prime Minister during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, and ordering the reprisal campaign against the organizers of the Black September attacks on the Munich Olympics in 1972.

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Karaite Kenessa: (Yaroslaviv Val 7) The Karaites are a branch of Judaism that does not treat the Talmud as authoritative, unlike mainstream Rabbinic Judaism. There was a large community in Crimea and around the Black Sea. In the 19th century, the Russian government considered them different from Jews and did not place Karaites under the same restrictions. This Kanessa, or Karaite synagogue, was opened in 1902. The nazis converted it into a Catholic church, then the Soviets used it for different entertainment and education purposes. It is presently the House of Actors.

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Liberman Estate: (Bankova 2) The Liberman Estate was built in 1879, then purchased by Jewish sugar magnate Simcha Lieberman. It is now the home of the Union of Writers of Ukraine.

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Merchant Synagogue: (Shota Rustaveli 15) The Merchant Synagogue was built by Brodsky as a more exclusive satellite of the synagogue that bears his name just down the street. It was a movie theater up until recently. The plans to turn it into a hotel appear in limbo in the midst of extreme controversy over how it and another nearby theater was purchased, as well as a request to return it to the Jewish community.

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Solomon Brodsky Jewish School: (Antonovych 69) The Solomon Brodsky Jewish School was another effort by the Brodsky family and was constructed in 1904. It had space for 300 regular students, then another 100 in a specialized crafts school. The Soviets used it as a vocational school. It has been the Evgeny Paton Electric Welding Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine since 1944. Paton, who studied there, was a pioneer of electric welding techniques.

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Podil

Andrievsky Descent: Andrievsky Descent is a major tourism street and the link between the Podil neighborhood at river level and Old Kyiv on the hills above. It was an important Jewish neighborhood, as documented at the One Street Museum.

 
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Brodsky’s Mill: (Vozdvizhenska St.9/19) This non-descript building, now connected to the Fairmont Grand Hotel near Poshtova Ploshcha, was once a mill owned by the philanthropic Jewish Brodsky family.

mill

 

Early Prayer Halls: Before the Jewish community was given permission to build any dedicated building to serve as synagogues, they instead met in prayer rooms in ordinary apartment buildings. Some of the first were on what is now Yaroslavka Street, which was the heart of the community in Podil.  There are notable examples...

Hat-Maker Synagogue - Yaroslavska 20

Soldier’s and Craftmen’s Synagogue - Yaroslavska 21

Kommercheskaia (Chernobyl Hasidim) Synagogue - Yaroslavska 22​​​​​​​

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Prayer Hall of the Soldiers of the Russian-Japanese War: (Mezhyhirska 3/7) Jews had a complicated relationship with the Russian army. On one hand, the draft was an intensely traumatic event that severed soldiers from their communities and put them on the front lines of the wars of a country that mistreated them. On the other, they were given more rights than non-veterans, including exceptions to Pale of Settlement laws. A building off Kontrakova Ploscha was once home to a prayer room for veterans of the disastrous Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905).

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​Talmud Torah: (Konstiantynivska St.37) This Talmud Torah was a free elementary school funded by a leader of the Jewish community, David Margolin, and was built in 1911. It is now a high school.

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Other

Baryshpolsky Synagogue: (Lobanovskyi Ave. 198/22) This synagogue was built in 1878 in what was then the suburb of Demiyivka, which has since been incorporated into Kyiv. It was attacked in a pogrom by ethnic Poles in 1920, then never used again. It was later turned into a House of Culture for railroad workers, and is now a children's art house.

 
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National Botanical Gardens: (Botanicheskaya Ploshchad) The site of the Botanical Gardens is one of the first places in Kyiv that Jews settled after being allowed back into the city. The southern portion includes the site of the original Jewish cemetery. Today, it is a very well-developed park and one of the most beautiful parts of Kyiv. http://www.nbg.kiev.ua/en/

botanical.jpg

Regional Hospital: (Bahhovutivska 1) The Kyiv Regional Hospital is a sprawling complex that borders the Babi Yar park. It is completely secularized and public, but was originally a Jewish hospital. It was first built in 1861, but received funding from Israel Brodsky in 1883. Under his patronage and that of other donors, the hospital added many new buildings.

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Victory Square (Jewish Bazaar): (Peremohy Square 2) The Jewish Bazaar, or Galician Bazaar was built in 1858 on Brest-Litovsk Highway, the main entrance into Kyiv from the West. The Kyiv Railroad Station would be built nearby a few years later. A huge market on a transport hub, the Jewish Bazaar had everything there was to buy. It was demolished in the late 1940s and the neighborhood went through a heavy redesign. The site of the old market is now the National Circus of Ukraine.

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Holocaust Sites

The main site in Kyiv associated with the Holocaust is Babyn Yar/Babi Yar. Please see my guide to the site here: Short Guide to Babi Yar

 
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Community Organizations

 
 
Community Centers and Clubs

 
 
 
 
Education and Research Organizations

 
 
 
 
 
 
Media