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Kvas on the Streets of Berdichev

By Yael Shamir-Driver, May 2001

Part 3


Over the Bridge to the Still Magnificent Magazinik House: The Magazinik house is located at No. 22 Voikova Street [formerly Chudnovskaya Street] on the south side of the river. It is close to the pedestrian bridge that stretches over the Gnilopyatka River. The house, built in 1890, was once the residence of Avraham Dov Magazinik and his wife Feiga, daughter of Rabbi Baruch from Chernobyl.Built in the form of a small palace, the house stands in the middle of what was once a beautiful garden. Despite the fact that its condition has deteriorated, the house still retains an aura of magnificence. It is decorated in a predominantly light blue colour with Stucco ornamentation.

Magazinik house
The magnificient Magazinik house.

Today the building is home to a branch of Berdichev’s library, containing reference, children and general books for lending. There is no computer in the library so the library’s index is on cards.The librarians, who were most hospitable, showed us old photographs of Berdichev and advised us to visit a second Magazinik building down the road.This second building, today home for a school of 800 pupils studying in two shifts, is large and of plain style. The building has been renovated and expanded over the years. However, its front still has the original arched wooden doors on which there were two wooden carved lion heads. One of these, was recently given to a descendant of the Magazinik family, who came from the USA for a visit. [Can you help us to trace this man ?].

Sverdlova Synagogue: The only operating synagogue in Berdichev is on Sverdlova Street, which is located between the town’s main square and the river. The synagogue, which used to be “The New Beit ha’Midrash”, has been renovated within the past 10 years and its exterior is painted light blue. It has arched windows, each decorated with two Magen Davids and a Menorah. During the restoration, a plaque on one of the internal walls of the synagogue was uncovered, listing six members of the Hirschenhorn family who lived in Berdichev between 1908 and 1952.

Synagogue at Sverdlova street
Synagogue at Sverdlova street.

Carmelite Monastery

Although not Jewish, this impressive site appears on many old postcards of Berdichev. The monastery is strategically situated on a small hill overlooking the river and is partly surrounded by fortifications. The site dating back to the 17th (?) century is currently being restored.

The Local Archives

We could not leave Berdichev without coverage of the local archives. We started with the address quoted in Miriam Weiner’s book “Jewish Roots in the Ukraine…” There we found a notice saying “We have moved !” It took a full-blown discussion with five elderly ladies, who soon gathered around us, to find the new location - back entrance of a building at the other side of town – no signs whatsoever!

At this second location we were warmly received. The lady at the desk did her best to find us an old map of the Berdichev area and confirmed that no vital records are held there. We were directed to a third address, where we received a rather harsh “telling off” for not knowing that the archive was closed. After all, it was Friday!

With some perseverance, we managed to get confirmation that any pre-1920 vital records which might have survived, would be in Kiev.

Part 1 | Part2 | Part 3

  • Last Modified: 02-20-2012
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