Podil (Ukrainian: Поділ) is a historic neighborhood in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. It is one of the oldest neighborhoods of Kiev, and the birthplace of the city’s trade, commerce and industry. It contains many architectural and historical landmarks, and new archaeological sites are still being revealed. It is a part of the city’s larger administrative Podilskyi District.
The Podil Synagogue
Inside The Synagogue
Great Choral Synagogue
|Great Choral Synagogue|
|Location||Schekovytska 29, Podil
|Leadership||Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich|
|Architect(s)||1895 – Nikolay Gardenik
1915 – Valerian Rykov
|Architectural style||Moorish Revival|
The Aesopian synagogue was built in 1895. It was designed in Neo-Moorish style by Nikolay Gordenin. Gabriel Yakob Rozenberg, a merchant, financed the building. In 1915 the building was reconstructed by Valerian Rykov. The reconstruction was financed by Vladimir Ginzburg, a nephew of Rozenberg.
Since 1945, the building has again been used as a synagogue. In 1992, Yaakov Bleich was appointed rabbi of the Jewish community of Kiev and chief rabbi of Ukraine.
Yaakov Dov Bleich (born 19 October 1964) is an American-born rabbi and member of the Karlin-StolinHasidicdynasty. He has been widely recognized as Chief Rabbi of Kiev and all of Ukraine since 1990 and has served as vice-president of the World Jewish Congress since 2009.
He graduated from Telshe Yeshiva High School in Chicago, Illinois where he began his rabbinical studies. From 1984-1986, he studied at the Karlin Stolin Rabbinical Institute in Jerusalem, and received his Rabbinical ordination (semicha) at Yeshiva Karlin Stolin in Brooklyn.
In 1990, Bleich was appointed by his Karlin-Stolin community as Chief Rabbi of Kiev and Ukraine. Since his arrival in Ukraine, Bleich has been instrumental in founding the Kyiv Jewish City Community, the Union Of Jewish Religious Organizations of Ukraine, the first Jewish day school in Ukraine, the first Jewish orphanage and boarding school in Ukraine, the Chesed Avot welfare society of Kyiv, the Magen Avot social services network of Ukraine, and a host of other organizations.
In 2005 he was one of three contenders for the role of chief rabbi, alongside Chabad Lubavitch appointees Azriel Chaikin (appointed 2002) and Moshe Reuven Azman (appointed 2005). There is also a Progressive (Liberal/Reform) Chief Rabbi of Kiev and Ukraine, Alexander Dukhovny. But Rabbi Yaakov Bleich has always been recognized by the government as chief rabbi of Kiev and Ukraine.
In 2008, Kievan weekly magazine Focus named Bleich among the most “powerful foreigners” in the country.
History of the Jews in Kiev
The history of the Jews in Kiev stretches from the 10th century CE to the 21st century, and forms part of the history of the Jews in Ukraine.
Middle Ages and Renaissance
The first mention of Jews in Kiev is found in the 10th century Kievian Letter, written by local Jews in ancient Hebrew. It is the oldest written document to mention the name of the city. Jewish travelers such as Benjamin of Tudela and Pethahiah of Regensburg mentioned the city as one with a large Jewish community. During the Mongol occupation the community was devastated, together with the rest of the city, but the community revived with the acquisition of the city by the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. During Polish–Lithuanian rule, Jews were allowed to settle in the city, but they were subject to several deportations in 1495 and again in 1619.
During the Khmelnytsky Uprising in 1648 most of the Jews in the city were murdered by Zaporozhian Cossacks, along with most of the Jews in Ukraine. After the Russian occupation in 1654, Jews were not allowed to settle in the city. This ban was lifted only in 1793 after the Third Partition of Poland.
In the 19th century the Jewish community flourished and became one of the biggest communities in Ukraine. In that period many synagogues were built including the city’s main synagogue, the Brodsky Synagogue. Jewish schools and workshops were built all around the city.
The community suffered from a number of pogroms in 1882, and again in 1905, when hundreds of Jews were murdered and wounded. The Beilis trial, in which a local Jew, Beilis, was accused of the ritual murder of a child, took place in the city in 1903. Beilis was found innocent.
During the Russian revolution and the Ukrainian War of Independence the city switched hands several times with new pogroms against the Jews. After the establishment of the Ukrainian SSR the Jewish population grew rapidly and reached approximately 224,000 people in 1939.
At the beginning of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union most Jews escaped from the city. The remaining 33,771 Jews were concentrated in Babi Yar, and were executed by shooting on September 29-30th 1941, in an act that became one of the most notorious episodes of the Holocaust. Another 15.000 Jews were murdered in the same place during 1941-1942.
After the war the surviving Jews returned to the city. On September 4–7, 1945 a pogrom took place and  around one hundred Jews were beaten, of whom thirty-six were hospitalized and five died of wounds. In 1946 there was only one operating synagogue in Kiev. The last rabbi to officiate in Kiev was Rabbi Panets, who retired in 1960 and died in 1968; a new rabbi was not appointed. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, most of the Jewish population emigrated from Kiev. After Ukrainian independence there was a revival of Jewish community life, with the establishment of two Jewish schools and a memorial in Babi Yar, where an official ceremony is held every year.
Today there are approximately 20,000 Jews in Kiev, with two major religious communities: Chabad (rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman); and Karlin(rabbi Yaakov Bleich). Тwo major synagogues, the Brodsky Choral Synagogue and the Great Choral Synagogue, servе these communities.
Ukrainian Rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman called on Kiev’s Jews to leave the city and the country if possible, fearing that the city’s Jews will be victimized in the chaos during Ukrainian revolution of 2014: “I told my congregation to leave the city center or the city all together and if possible the country too… I don’t want to tempt fate… but there are constant warnings concerning intentions to attack Jewish institutions”.Moreover, the CFCA (the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism) reported more than three antisemitic incidents occurred in Kiev since the 2014 Crimean crisis. Both the pro-Russian Ukrainians and the Ukraine-government supporters blame each other in the exacting situation of the Jews of Kiev. Leaders of Ukraine’s own Jewish community have alleged that recent anti-Semitic provocations in the Crimea, including graffiti on a synagogue in Crimea’s capital that read “Death to the Zhids,” are the handiwork of pro-Russian Ukrainians. Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, who presides over Ukraine’s Jewish Federation, signed a letter asking Russia to end its aggression, and compared the current climate in Crimea to that of pre-Anschluss Austria. The memorial Menorah in Babi Yar was desecrated twice with sprayed swastika, during Rosh Hashana and a couple of months later.   During June 2015 there was an explosion in a Jewish-owned shop in Kiev. An extreme right-wing organization claimed responsibility for the incident. Later that month, the memorial Menorah in Babi Yar was desecrated again.
Walking around Podil
Up Andriivs’kyi Descent past St Andrew’s Church to Saint Sophia’s Cathedral
St Michael’s Monastery to Maidan Square
Activities along Khreschatyk Street