Jewish Cemetery

Central Ukraine

Levi Yitzhak's mausoleum is in Berdychiv's huge Jewish Cemetery. For decades, with the exception of Yitzhak's mausoleum, the cemetery was overgrown and neglected, but these days it's well tended to by a Stakhanovite team of weed-whacker-wielding caretakers. What will strike you is the odd, boot-like shape of the tombstones, most of which bear barely legible Hebrew inscriptions and lie hideously askew or flat on the ground – evoking images, all-too-common in this region – of humans toppled en masse by Nazi bullets.

The graves predate the Nazis (some are up to 300 years old), but it was the Nazis who sealed the fate of so many Jewish cemeteries by leaving no Jews behind to care for them. Most Jewish cemeteries in Ukraine have been buried and lost forever. That Berdychiv's has survived makes it a symbol of defiance and a powerful, important and rare reminder of the country's rich pre-Holocaust Jewish past.

Hidden in the far southeast corner of the cemetery is a typically non-sectarian Soviet memorial to the 'victims of fascism'.

The cemetery is out on the road to Zhytomyr, about a 1km walk or two bus stops north of the Mirabella Hotel on marshrutka 1 or 6. It's on the right just beyond a railway crossing.

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