Berdichev Jewish Cemetery

The Commission helped restore the historic Jewish cemetery in Berdichev, Ukraine.

 

The cemetery is one of the most important in Ukraine, in part due to the artistic quality of its gravestones. Approximately 5,000 stones are still on the site, some dating from as early as the 18th century.

 

Beginning in the 1700s, Berdichev was a center of the Hasidic movement, which transformed Jewish religious practice in much of Eastern Europe. Among the many Hasidim buried there is Rabbi Levi Isaac, who died in 1809.

 

The Jewish population of Berdichev was nearly 50,000 in the mid-19th century. It was 14,000 in 1990, and it was less than 80 a decade ago. This left the remaining Jewish residents unable to preserve the enormous cemetery.


The Commission obtained a grant for restoration of the cemetery from a private foundation that wanted to remain anonymous. Half of the grant was used to clear away vegetation. New pathways were also created to the site, allowing mapping to be accessed and completed in detail. The other half of the grant was used to conduct research to establish the historic boundaries of the cemetery.