About Zhitomir

Zhitomir, city (1989 pop. 292,000), capital of Zhytomyr region, central Ukraine, on the Teteriv River, a tributary of the Dnieper. It is a road and rail junction in an agricultural area. Industries include lumber milling, food processing, granite quarrying, metalworking, and the manufacture of musical instruments. An old city on the trade route from Scandinavia to Constantinople, Zhytomyr was known in 1240. It was part of Kievan Rus and later passed to Lithuania (1320) and Poland (1569). Awarded to Russia in the second partition of Poland (1793), it became an important provincial and trade center before the Bolshevik Revolution.

Zhitomir, a city in the former USSR in western Ukraine, is located by the Teteriv River, a right flank tributary of the Dnieper, near the delta of four rivers and the junction of railroad tracks and highways. Its economy is based on the industry that develops raw materials from local vegetable and fruit crops and cattle raising. It produces flour, canned fruits, vegetables and meat, butter and cheeses, furniture; and also is a center for repairing and maintenance of agricultural equipment. There are many trade and high schools in the city.

Zhitomir is an ancient settlement. Through it passed one of the trade routes from Constantinople to the Baltic Sea and Scandinavia. In the 10th century it was included in the Russian state of Kiev and after the state was divided it was within the borders of the Wohlin princedom. The Lithuanians conquered it in 1320. In 1569 it was within the borders of Poland, and in 1793 it fell into the hands of Russia and was the capitol of the Wohlin district. In the years 1941/43 it was under German occupation, which ravaged destruction there and wiped out the Jewish communities. The Zhitomir District’s area is 30,500 square kilometers, which includes 1,600,000 residents (1956), Ukrainians, and few Russians and Jews.

Zhitomir was under Polish rule until 1792. Jews were not authorized to live in there, but some had settled there under the protection of government officials. In 1753, Jews from neighboring villages were on trial for the alleged murder of a Christian child for the needs of the Passover holiday: Eleven were executed, others were forced to convert. In 1789 there were 882 Jews about a third of the general population. When the city was annexed to Russia in 1792 there were about 1,300 Jews, and in 1847 were according to the official census there were 9,500. During this period Hasidism spread in the city, and among the students of the Maggid (preacher) from Mezheritsch was Reb Zeev Wolf from Zhitomir.

When most of the Jewish printing houses in Russia were closed in 1836, one of the two printing houses that were permitted to exist was that of the Shapira brothers in Zhitomir which published many religious and moral books. The first Hebrew printing press in Zhitomir was established in 1804 by the wandering printer Tzevi Hirsch B. Simeon ha-Kohen, who came from Zolkiew (Zholkva) where he had worked as a typesetter. He had worked the printing press in the town of Nowy Dwor, and had subsequently owned his own press in 1796 in Kopel, and in 1803-04 in Brezitz (Beresty). Tzvi Hirsch had his printing press in Zhitomir until 1806, and during the three years of its existence at least nine books were published, five of which were Chassidic and Kabbalistic works. Between 1858 and 1867 the Babylon and Jerusalem Talmud were published there.

In 1847 a second printing press was established in Zhitomir by the three brothers Chanina Lipa, Aryeh Leib, and Joshua Heschel Shapira, sons of Samuel Abraham Abba Shapira, the printer in Slavuta. Until 1862 this was one of only two Hebrew presses the Russian government permitted to operate in the whole of Russia, the other being in Vilna. This press had 18 hand presses and four additional large presses. In 1851 Aryeh Leib broke away and established his own printing press in Zhitomir. In these two establishments only sacred books of every kind were printed. During the years 1958-1964 the press of the two brothers printed a beautiful edition of the Babylonian Talmud together with the Halakhot of Isaac Alfasi, while between 1860 and 1867 Aryeh Leib printed an edition of the Jerusalem Talmud.

In 1865 a Hebrew printing press was established by Abraham Shalom Shadov, and in 1870 another one was established by Isaac Moses Bakst. In 1888 the Hebrew press of Brodovitz was founded, and in 1891 this passed into the possession of his successors. In about 1890, a printing press was founded by Joseph Kesselman, and in about 1902 it passed into the possession of his widow Rachel, who entered into a partnership with Elijah Feinberg. In these three presses, many Hebrew and Yiddish books were printed.

In 1847, a government seminary for rabbis was established and teachers and students from the Maskilim (the Enlightened) were brought together in the city, among them Chaim Z. Slonimski, A.B.Gottlober and A. Tzvifel. In 1873, there was a seminary for rabbis and a government seminary for preparing teachers for government schools for Jews. The institution was closed in 1885.

In 1862 the first Jewish trade school was established. The school was closed in 1884, by the ruling power, feeling that studying there gave economic preference to Jews over Christians. Mendele Mocher Sforim, A. Y. Papirna, A. Goldfaden studied and resided in Zhitomir. Chaim Nahum Bialik grew up nearby. In the 1870s, an economic recession began in the community which was connected with the dispossession of Polish land owners in the area and the laying of railroad tracks which initially skipped over Zhitomir.

In 1897, the Jewish population was 30,748 comprising 46.6 percent of the general population. In 1910, they numbered 38,427. The Jews made up 90 percent of those engaged in commerce in the city and 60 percent of the craftsmen (workers). During Passover 1905 disturbances broke out in the city with the encouragement of the ruling authorities. Jewish youth, Zionist and socialist, organized self-defense and battled with the rioters. About15 defenders were killed, among them a Russian student N. Blinov. In addition, ten Jewish youths from the shtetl Tzudnov who were on their way to help the Jews in Zhitomir were murdered. Joseph and Esther Freedland could see what the future would hold for them and their in the future. They immigrated to the United States before the extreme Pogroms.

In January 1919 the Ukrainian army along with mobs from the neighboring villages rioted and subjected Jews to pogroms. Participating in the plunder and pillage were people from the Russian intelligentsia. In March 1919, after soldiers of Petlura conquered the city they initiated bloody pogroms. During the Polish conquest (1920) Jews suffered from the brutality of Polish soldiers.

When the Soviets came into control, also came the destruction of the organized community. Jewish life and culture disintegrated. In 1923, there were 28,783 Jews in Z., in1926, 30,812. In the 1930s the school, Technikum Pedagogy Yehudi was established. The language of instruction was Yiddish. During the German occupation many Jews fled from the city; the remaining ones and similarly, many Jews from neighboring villages were forced into the ghetto which was destroyed on September 19, 1941. After the re-conquest of Zhitomir by the Soviets from the Germans, thousands of Jewish former residents and other Jews returned to the city. In 1959 it had 105,000 residents.

There was a well-kept cemetery and a synagogue with a rabbi. During the high holidays, thousands congregated in and around the synagogue. Yiddish was often heard in the streets. The synagogue building was ordered to be destroyed in 1962 to make way for a large apartment house, and the Jewish community rented a new apartment for its needs.

Published in: on 20.12.2005 at 10:00  Комментарии к записи About Zhitomir отключены