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Berezdovis a village in the Slavuta district of Khmelnitsky region.
In the XVI-XVIII centuries it was a Lutsk povit of Volyn province. Since 1793- part of Russia Empire.

In the XIX – early XX century Berezdovo (other title is Berestov) was a shtetl of Novograd-Volynskiy yezd, Volyn province. Population in 2000 was 1437 persons.


The earliest known Jewish community exist there in XVII century. In 1618, Krim Tartar abducted local residents.
In 1765 there were 49 Jewish houses, in 1784 – 33, in 1787 – 29.From the middle of XIX rabbi was Avrom Stepansky, from 1880 rabbi was hisson Chaim Stepansky (1854 -?).
I didn’t find information about events in Berezdov during Revolution and Civil War.

3 synagogues on the Berezdov's market square, beginning of XX century

3 synagogues on the Berezdov’s market square, beginning of XX century

During the NEP trade and crafts have revived in Berezdov, dozens of private shops appeared on market square. Artisans were mainly Jews, they made ​​clothes and shoes ​​from customer’s material, traded their wares. They were called artisans (Berko Schuster, Schuster Usher, Kopytman Ale, Kopytman Hershko, Kipervas Jankel). Owners of retail stores also had patents. They were called Nepmans. Nepmen were denied vote rights, their children were not allowed to study at colleges and universities. There were private carters, called balahuly (Brenet Suhar, Feldman Keyftsya). In 1927-28 years began to organize artisan artels. The first was established guild of tailors, the head was Kopytman Wolf. There were working about 20 people. Earlier in Berezdov was launched the consumer cooperatives.

Berezdov enterpreneurs, 1913

Berezdov enterpreneurs, 1913

In 1927 there lived 863 jews.
Due to activity of initiative group (included Kopytman Gersh, Kipervas Isaac, Milshenker Jacob, Sandler Mendel, Mendel Broverman, Schuster Nisel, Schneider Enah and others) was created Jewish collective farm ( at spring 1929) “Der nayer Weg” (“New Way”). Jews didn’t have enough experience in agriculture but Ukrainians helped to them.

Jewish population of Berezdov:
1765 – 205 jews
1778 – 56 jews
1798 – 90 (12%)
1847 – 774 jews
1897 – 1319 (49%)
1927 ~ 1000 jews
1939 – 778 (25%)
2000 – 0

The first chairman was elected Hilmana Efim Moiseevich, accountant was Shnaiderman Enaha. Brigadiers were Kipershteyn David and Tkachuk. Groom were Hrinvald Zinovii, Tkachuk Zahar, Motsiyevskyy Johan, riders – Vayshelboym Ale, Andrei Tkachuk, Povedyuk Joseph, Sandler Mendel, shepherds – Hetsya Schuster, Kelerman Gersh, Levchuk Ivan. Most of the Jews – members of the farm worked at various jobs in the field. Emolument was low. In 1932-1933, farmers received only 200-300 grams of grain per workday. Situation became better in 1934 because harvest was a good. There were foremost of collective farm labor (Weisberg Hinya, Obershteyn Pesya, Kyrylyuk Domka).

Head of collective farm was Hilman Y.M., he worked until 1936. He was one of the most active members of the Komsomol cell which was created in Berezdov at 1923. During the WWII Hilman fought in the Red Army and get 11 military rewards. After demobilization he became a head of Berezdivskyy farm “New Way”. Farm was one of the most successful in region. As an independent farm it was existing until 1950, when Hilman was elected as a president of the united farm “Bolshevik” based on two existed farms in Berezdov.

Berezdov on the wall of "Destroyed communities" in Yad Vashem

Berezdov on the wall of “Destroyed communities” in Yad Vashem

In Berezdov there were three synagogues which were closed in 1930’s. In the beginning of 1930’s boys still visited Header.Main Synagogue (Besmedresh) was turned into a bakery. In addition to the main synagogue was exist “Balmelohishe shul” – synagogue for crafters that was attended by tailors, shoemakers, tinsmith, etc. The Jewish religious community was opened in the town in April 1924, the head of the community was Berenshtein Idel Tsalevych. The community has 10 parchment Torah copies, 6 other Torah copies and 225 other books.

After synagogues closing most religious Jews gathered for pray in residential houses. Until the beginning of WWII there was a rabbi in community, very old Chaim Stepanskiy and 2 shoyhets.

Lake in Berezdov. Photo provided by Mike Safyan in 2019

Lake in Berezdov. Photo provided by Mike Safyan in 2019

In the middle of 1930s local authorities closed kosher meat shops (yatkes) and Jews went to the shoyhets.
Between 1923 and 1939 there were Jewish school. Over the years the school most of the Jews in town has learned to read and write in Yiddish.
2nd class of Berezdov Jewish school in 1933, photo from the book of David Gochkis:

Guess, it is another photo of the class of Berezdov Jewish school from the book of David Gochkis, 1930s:

In 1939 jewish population was 778 (25% of total). Number of jews in Berezdov region (before the WWII Berezdov was a center of this region) was 2106 persons.


Berezdov was occupied by German forces at July 9, 1941. Only few families evacuated in inner regions of USSR at Summer 1941. More than 600 citizens of Jewish nationality stay in occupied Berezdov.

Monument on the Holocaust mass grave and last gravestones of Jewish cemetery.

Monument on the Holocaust mass grave and last gravestones of Jewish cemetery.

On August 10, 1941 152 Jewish men from Berezdov were arrested and shot to death by Germans in the area of Butik near Dyakov village by division of first mechanized infantry brigade.
Ghetto was created in the building of former regional Executive Committee. There were placing Soviet POWs and local jews. Between March and June, 1942 60 Jewish forced laborers from the Berezdov ghetto were shot to death in the local Jewish cemetery. 200 jews were take out to Mlinki area, forced to dig a pit and were shooted, kids were burried alive. Alltogether were killed more than 1200 jews from Berezdov and nearby villages.

At March 4, 1942 150 Jews from Krasnostav were settled in Berezdov ghetto and were forced to slavish labor. Last Jews from Berezdov region were killed in Slavuta at 26 June, 1942. Locals remember shooting of six Jewish girls at the village cemetery. They were raped before.
Guerrilla regiment of A.Z.Odyhi liberated Berezdov at January 13, 1944. During Holocaust in Berezdov were killed 589 Jews, we know names of 514 only.

Some families have returned from evacuation but resettled in Slavuta. In 1960-1990 in Berezdov lived only one jewish family the entire area – Safyan Michail Evseyevich and his wife Safyan Rima Naumovna (They were assigned as a teachers in local school after the WWII). Michail Safyan was a school director and local historian. He died in 1986 and was buried in the local Christian cemetery.

Victor Safyan at the grave of his father Mihail Safyan in Berezdov, 2019

Victor Safyan at the grave of his father Mihail Safyan in Berezdov, 2019

Last “local” Jew was Yankel Kovtun, who died in 1970’s.
The last Jews in town were RimmaNaumivna Safyan and her granddaughter Nataliya, they emigrated to USA in 1999.
There are no jews in Berezdov now.

RimmaNaumovna Safyan (1922, Feodosiya - 2013, San-Francisco). Photo provided by Mike Safyan in 2019.

RimmaNaumovna Safyan (1922, Feodosiya – 2013, San-Francisco). Photo provided by Mike Safyan in 2019.

Website of Berezdov school –

Jewish Cemetery

The Jewish cemetery was established in the 18th century with last knownJewish burial 1942. A continuous fence without a gate surrounds thecemetery. Most tombstones are in original location and more than 75%toppled or broken, date from the 19th century.
Rav Haim Stepansky buriedhere. The cemetery contains Holocaust mass graves with monuments.The cemetery boundaries are smaller now than 1939 because of agriculture.
The cemetery was vandalized during World War II. Jewish individuals withincountry fixed wall in 1992.

Monument on the Holocaust mass grave at the local Jewish Cemetery

Monument on the Holocaust mass grave at the local Jewish Cemetery



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