This morning, after meeting your guide and driver, you may decide to explore some of Kiev’s Jewish heritage sites. Prior to the Second World War, there were some 150,000 Jews, who made up 20% of Kiev’s population.
The city’s Central Synagogue was built in the late 19th century in the very heart of Kiev near the popular Bessarabian market. The two-storey brick building features a tall arched façade and deep portico. It was closed by the Soviet regime and was later used as a puppet theater. Returned to Jewish ownership in the 1990s, it was fully renovated and now features crystal chandeliers hanging from vaulted ceilings.
The older Podil Synagogue is located in the older part of the city along the Dnieper River. This redbrick building was Kiev’s first permanent Jewish house of worship and has survived more than a century of war and persecution. Its interiors include a gilded wooden Ark with fine carvings and new stained-glass windows. You may want to spend some time walking around the historic Podol (Podil) district – certainly one of the most popular in Kiev. Traditionally the home to local craftsmen, businesses, churches and synagogues, Podol is one of the must-see areas in Kiev. Your guide will be happy to explain some of the history of the area and point out memorials and buildings of note.
Today, you may also wish to meet with the Rabbi of the Jewish community in Kiev.
Next, you may wish to see the monument to Shalom Aleichem – the renowned Yiddish writer and author of the novel, which later became the famous movie ‘The Fiddler on the Roof’. Your guide will also point out the House of Golda Meir, the fourth Prime Minister of Israel, and commonly known as ‘the Iron Lady’ of Israeli politics.
Just outside of the city limits, a grassy ravine called Babi Yar is the site where, in the course of only two days, September 29-30, 1941, German Nazis and their local supporters gathered and murdered 33,771 Jewish civilians. Throughout the Nazi occupation, Babi Yar was used as the execution site for gypsies, Jews, and Soviet prisoners of war and the Nazi’s meticulous records show that as many as 100,000 were killed here. Erected in 1991, a Jewish memorial was built to commemorate the more than 80,000 Jewish victims during the Holocaust. Another monument was built in 2001, which is dedicated to the memory of all the children who had died here.
Car, Driver & Guide
Hotel: Fairmont Kiev