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Kvas * On the Streets of Berdichev (May 2001)

By Yael Shamir-Driver

Related to: Berdichev (Town)Travel Reports

After visiting the small town of Skvira and the villages of Ruzin, Yagniyatin and Karabchiev, we arrived in Berdichev armed with a small schematically drawn map of the town, which we copied from a forty years old memorial booklet to “Jewish Berdichev. The “we” refers to my father [born Berdichev 86 years ago], my husband and myself. We spent two days in town, dividing our time between visiting old Jewish sites and exploring Levy Itzchak of Berdichev’s [LIOB] cemetery. The following is a very brief description of the Jewish sites, which we managed to find. A separate note is devoted to our time and work at LIOB cemetery.

Kvas at the Railway Station Area

Berdichev’s railway station, dating back to 1870, is located at the east end of the town’s main street - Karl Libknecht. The orange and white coloured building is rather beautiful with many arched windows and doors. It appears that at a certain stage [probably after 1917], the building was topped with a tower at the crown of which presides the famous Russian Star. [photo-1].

 Verdichev Railway Station

Berdichev's Railway Station

In front of the station there is a spacious area where a few dusty and time-worn cars serving as taxis are parked. To us, the most amazing and heart-warming sight was the little blue tanker, parked on one side, on which the word KVAS was painted in yellow. A lady sitting in front of the tanker was selling this barley-based drink through the tanker’s spout and tap. Kvas should be well known to those who are familiar with Shalom Aleichem stories. Personally, I never knew that Kvas was a real drink -- I took it as one of Shalom Aleichem’s funny literary inventions. I learned I was very wrong.

Kvas truck

Kvas on the streets of Berdichev.

Progress Factory

From the railway station driving west along the main street we passed what used to be a Jewish factory called the Progress Factory. The building is still there, and it is still used as a factory. Today it produces machine parts.

Driving on along the main street one arrives at what was once the Sherentsis Theatre.

Sherentsis Theatre

Built by David Sherentsis [a physician, businessman, philanthropist and an uncle to the well -known war correspondent Vasili Grossman], the building, with its arched wooden doors and triangular roof, is set a little deep from the main road. It is still configured as a theatre and is currently undergoing some renovation.


* Kvas is a drink, made familiar in the stories of Shalom Aleichem.

Part 1 | Part2 | Part 3




  • Last Modified: 06-08-2012
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