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Province:inne / inne (before 1939)
County:rejon berdyczowski / rejon berdyczowski (before 1939)
Community:Berdyczów / Berdyczów (before 1939)
Other names:Бердичів [j. ukraiński]; בערדיטשעוו [j. jidysz]; ברדיצ'ב [j. hebrajski]
49.9026° N / 28.5850° E
49°54'09" N / 28°35'06" E


Olga Pieńkowska /

Berdichev (Berdychiv) – a city in southern Ukraine, a district capital in the Zhitomir (Zhytomyr) Oblast. It is located 41 km south of Zhitomir (Zhytomyr) and 182 km southwest of Kiev, on the Hniłopiat river.



Ariana Gharib Lee

Pomnik poświęcony dzieciom - ofiarom Zagłady | Esther Weinschelbaum

The first record of Jewish life in Berdyczów was in 1593 when a Jew leased a mill and obtained the right to collect taxes on goods transported through the causeway in town. At the time, Berdyczów was a small town of 140 homes.

A Jewish community did not begin developing until the mid-18th century when the town’s owners, the Radziwiłł family, began to focus on expanding Berdyczów. As Berdyczów evolved into a fair town, economic growth attracted Jewish settlement and Jews began to find their place in the town’s economy. Jews were granted various leases that allowed them to produce alcohol and participate in trades and crafts. In 1732, a Jewish tailor’s guild was granted autonomy from the kahal and obtained the right to conduct their own prayer services in the annex of the synagogue. In 1797, Prince Radziwiłł granted seven Jewish cloth merchants a monopoly on cloth trade and even the right to conduct their own prayer services in the annex of the synagogue. By the end of the 18th century, Jewish typography was established in Berdyczów (1798), eventually becoming one of the greatest in the Russian Empire. This cultural and economic growth led to Berdyczów being known as the “Jerusalem of Volhynia” by the mid-18th century.

As the Jewish community grew economically, it also developed a vibrant religious life. Prominent rabbis during this period included Yekuti’el Zalman ben Simhah Bunim (d. 1760), Mosheh Avraham ben Yehi’el Mikhl (d. 1761) Mosheh ben Shemu’el (d. 1791), and Yosef Halperin, known as “Harif” (Shar One), who was head of the rabinaical court (d. 1784). During this period, Berdyczów also became one of the most important centers for Hasidism and was home to a number of Hassidic communities. The development of these communities was catalyzed by prominent Hassids settling in Berdyczów and facilitating the growth of Hassidism. For example, Aleksander “the Shohet” (d. before 1773) was Ba’al Shem Tov’s scribe and father-in-love to Dov Ber of Linits (Il’intsy) – one of the first Hassids in Berdyczów. Additionally, Tsaddik Levi Yitshak ben Me’ir (1740-1809) began living in Berdyczów in 1785 and played an integral role in transforming it into a center for Hassidism.

As the religious community in Berdyczów grew in size and importance


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