Known for its large number of glittering golden church domes, Kiev boasts not only an unmistakable skyline, but also a history that dates back more than a millennium. Located on the River Dnieper at the commercial crossroads of Western Europe and the Orient, Kiev attracted Jewish settlers from as early as the 8th century C.E. Their presence is attested to by a letter dating from the 10th century. After a troubled period during the Tartar invasions, the community experienced a period of significant boost starting in the 13th century, making Kiev a main center of Jewish life in medieval Eastern Europe. A saying of the time confirmed that “Teaching comes from Kiev.”
While the city retained a Jewish community over the centuries, it is in the first decades of the 20th century that Jewish life flourished here on grand scale. The intervening invasion of the German army in 1941 and the Holocaust cut that development short. After the war, parts of the surviving community returned from the east, where they had taken refuge, but emigration after the fall of the Soviet Union eventually thinned their numbers. When Kiev became seat of the Ukrainian chief rabbinate, Jewish life revived at the community level and a Jewish day school was opened.
Our tour will offer an opportunity to explore in depth the history of the Jewish community in Kiev, and specifically learn about those Jewish people who have contributed significantly to local history. We will take you through the Jewish Quarter, include a stop at the city’s two synagogues and allow time for contemplation at the Babi Yar ravine. Included are stops along the Shevchenko Boulevard and at the Bessarabian Market. We will visit the Brodsky Synagogue and pass the house of Golda Meir, one of Kiev’s most famous Jewish residents. Join us at the heart of Eastern Europe to learn about the complex and fascinating history of this old Jewish community!