Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Kiev -- Sholom Aleichem house torn down

Sholom Aleichem monument, Kiev. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

JTA reports that one of the buildings in Kiev where the great Yiddish writer Sholom Aleichem lived has been torn down by a real estate developer to make way for a hotel.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Shalom Aleichem's birth (in the small town of Pereslayev), and in December, JTA reported that Ukraine had kicked off national celebrations marking the occasion with an exhibition in Kiev on the author, who evoked the shtetl in his writings and created characters such as the iconic Tevye the Milkman. As part of the celebrations, a Sholom Aleichem museum is due to be opened in Kiev, dedicated to his life and work and to Yiddish culture, architecture and folklore in general. Sholom Aleichem lived in Kiev from 1897 to 1905. A monument to him -- a statue of the author tipping his hat -- stands in central Kiev near the Brody synagogue.

A building in Kiev where the famed Yiddish writer, born Solomon Rabinovich on Feb. 18, 1859, lived in 1905 was destroyed over the weekend by the private company KievZhytloInvestManagement, despite instructions by city authorities to the company to suspend the demolition in order to clarify the case.

The site is being prepared for a new hotel for the Euro-2012 soccer tournament, according to reports.

“This is a disgraceful act to destroy that building,” said Ilya Levitas, a president of the Jewish Council of Ukraine, who addressed a petition to the deputy prime minister of Ukraine and Kiev authorities on Jan. 21, requesting that the city order a stop or suspension of the demolition.

“Activities of KievZhytloInvestManagement Company, that is an owner of the building, shocked the public this past weekend," Irina Zalyuzhenkova, an inspector for the Association for the Protection of Monuments of History and Culture, told JTA. "In spite of city authority instructions and a visit to the site, the company destroyed the building. They could find no other site.

. . . .

Mikhail Kalnitzky, a historian of Kiev, said Sholom Aleichem lived at 35 Bolshaya Vasylkivska St., apartment 1 in Kiev.

"The local authorities’ fault is that they didn’t put the building on the register list of state or municipal monuments of architecture," he said. "That is why the private company is destroying the building.”

Evgeny Chervonenko, a first deputy of the Kiev mayor and a prominent Jewish leader, told JTA that the Kiev authority will establish a committee to clarify the case properly.

Read Full Article

I included information on the Sholom Aleichem trail in the Kiev section of National Geographic Jewish Heritage Travel. I noted the address of this apartment as Bolshaya Vasylkivska st 5, not 35 -- and I said there was a plaque marking it. The sources I consulted said he lived there from 1897-1903. Sholom Aleichem also lived in Kiev at Saksagansky 27, where I also recall there being a plaque. He was at this address from 1903-1905.

Click HERE for an interesting blog post by Larry Kaufman I came across recently describing his experiences on Jewish and non-Jewish organized travel in Kiev.

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