Kedushat Levi

Berdychiv

Berdychiv (Бердичів, Polish: Berdyczów, Берди́чев, translit. Berdichev) is a historic city in the Zhytomyr Oblast (province) of northern Ukraine. Serving as the administrative center of the Berdychivskyi Raion (district), the city itself is of direct oblast subordinance, and is located south of the oblast capital, Zhytomyr, at around .

The current estimated population is around 88,000 (as of 2001).

History

In 1430, Grand Duke of Lithuania Vitautas (великий князь литовский Витовт) granted the rights over the area to Kalinik, the procurator (наместник) of Putyvl and Zvenigorod, and it is believed that his servant named Berdich founded a khutor (remote settlement) there, however the etymology of the name Berdychiv is not known.

In 1483, Crimean Tatars destroyed the settlement. During the 1546 partition between Lithuania and Poland, the region was listed as a property of Lithuanian magnate Tyshkevich (Tyszkiewicz). According to the Union of Lublin (1569), Volhynia formed a province of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

The fortified Carmelite monastery (built from 1627-1642 under the sponsorship of Janusz Tyszkiewicz Łohojski), captured and plundered by Bohdan Khmelnytsky in 1647, was disestablished in 1864.

The town underwent rapid development after 1800, quickly becoming the most important banking center in the Russian Empire. However the banking industry was moved from Berdichev to Odessa (a major port city) after 1850, and the town became impoverished again in a short period of time.

In 1846, the town accounted 1893 buildings, 69 of which were brick-made, 11 streets, 80 walkways and 4 squares. Honoré de Balzac visited it in 1850 and noted that its unplanned development made it resemble the dance of polka as some buildings leaned left, while others right.

Jewish history

According to the census of 1789, the Jews constituted 75% of Berdychiv's population (1,951 out of 2,640, of whom 246 were liquor-dealers, 452 houseowners, 134 merchants, 188 artisans, 150 clerks and 56 idlers). In 1797, Prince Radziwill granted seven Jewish families the monopoly privilege of the cloth trade in the town. Jews were a major driving force of the town's commerce in the first half of the 19th century, founding a number of trading companies (some traded internationally), banking establishments, and serving as agents of the neighboring estates of Polish nobility (szlachta).

By the end of the 18th century, Berdychiv became an important center of Hasidism. As the town grew, a number of noted scholars served as rabbis there, including Lieber the Great and Joseph the Harif and the Tzadik Levi Yosef Yitzhak of Berdichev (the author of Kedushat Levi), who lived and taught there until his death in 1809. See also Berditchev (Hasidic dynasty).

In its heyday, Berdychiv accounted some eighty synagogues and battei midrash, and was famous for its cantors.

Berdychiv was also one of the centers of the conflict between Hasidim and Mitnagdim. As the ideas of Haskalah influenced parts of the Jewish communities, a large group of Maskilim formed in Berdychiv in the 1820s.

In 1847, 23,160 Jews resided in Berdychiv and by 1861 the number doubled to 46,683, constituting the second largest Jewish community in the Russian Empire. The May Laws of 1882 and other government persecutions affected Jewish population and in 1897, out of the town's population of 53,728, 41,617 (about 80%) were Jewish. 58% of Jewish males and 32% of Jewish females were literate.

Until World War I, the natural growth was balanced by the emigration. During the 1917 October Revolution and Russian Civil War, the mayor of the town was the Bundist leader D. Lipets. In early 1919, the Jews of Berdychiv became victims of a pogrom perpetrated by the Ukrainian army (See Symon Petliura).

The Soviet authorities closed or destroyed most of the town's synagogues. (See Yevsektsiya)

In the 1920s, Yiddish language was officially recognized and in 1924, the first in Ukraine official law court to conduct its affairs in Yiddish was established in the city, but in the 1930s, the use of Yiddish was curtailed and all Jewish cultural activities were suspended before World War II.

Most civilians from areas near the border did not have a chance to evacuate when the Nazis began their invasion on June 22, 1941. An "extermination" unit was established in Berdychiv in early July 1941 and a Jewish ghetto was set up. It was liquidated on October 5, 1941, after all the inhabitants were murdered.

A 1973 Ukrainian-language article about the history of Bedichev says:"Гестапівці стратили 38 536 чоловік. (Gestapo killed 38,536 persons.) In line with the official Soviet policy regarding the Jews and the Holocaust, the article does not mention the word "Jew" and does not acknowledge the genocide of the Jews.

Demographics

Year Total population Jewish population
1789 2,640 1,951 (75%)
1847 ? 23,160
1861 ? 46,683
1867 52,563 41,617 (80%)
1926 55,417 30,812 (55.6%)
1941 ? 0
1946 ? 6,000
1972 77,000 15,000 (est)
1989 92,000 ?
2001 88,000 1000

People

Berdychiv on stage

See: Abraham Ellstein

See also

Footnotes

References

External links

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