Ukraine / From Kiev to the Black Sea

Nikolaev

Landau Pharmacy in Nikolaev

Bolshaya Morskaya ulitsa, 71, Mykolaiv, Mykolaivs'ka oblast, Ukraine, 54000

Nikolaev Synagogue

Schneerson St, 15, Mykolaiv, Миколаївська, Ukraine, 54000

Old business school of Nikolaev

Artyleriiska St, 19, Mykolaiv, Mykolaivs'ka oblast, Ukraine, 54000

Meshyres house, Nikolaev

Spas'ka St, 18, Mykolaiv, Mykolaivs'ka oblast, Ukraine, 54000

Forshteter house, Nikolaev

Spas'ka St, 33, Mykolaiv, Mykolaivs'ka oblast, Ukraine, 54000

Monument to the Shoah victims, Nikolaev

Central Ave, 288, Mykolaiv, Mykolaivs'ka oblast, Ukraine, 54000

Jewish cemetery of Nikolaev

Khersons'ke Hwy, Mykolaiv, Mykolaivs'ka oblast, Ukraine, 54000

Located at the junction of the Ingul and the Boug rivers, Nikolaev has a lesser known Jewish history than its 200 kilometers neighbour Odessa. However, it is a city with an important Jewish past: the famous loubavitch rabbi Menachen Mendel Schneerson was born there and Isaac Babel spent in Nikolaev some of his childhood years.

To get there, the simplest and cheapest is to take the marshroutka from Odessa’s Privoz bus station. During the day, there is one shuttle every 15 minutes or so. Once in Nikolaev, you can get down at the Tsentralnaya street (old Sovietskaya street), which is the only pedestrian street in Nikolaev, and located not far from the synagogues. From Odessa, you can as well take a taxi to Nikolaev, it will cost you about 60 Euros.

The first traces of a Jewish presence in Nikolaev date to the city’s foundation, in 1789. The city was back then mostly made of Jews from Galicia who came to build the Russian port. They rapidly grew strong enough to build their first synagogue in 1819, now known as the ancient synagogue, the building still stands. In 1829, using the argument of military presence in Nikolaev, the Russian Empire forbade the Jews to live in the city. However, the city council, aware of the Jewish community economical importance disputed the Empire’s edict, which was nonetheless carried out in 1834. It will finally be under Alexander the Second reign (1855-1881) that Nikolaev will be integrated into the Residence zone and that the Jews will have the full right to inhabit it. According to the 1897’s census, the Jewish community of Nikolaev counts 22000 people, 20% of the city’s population. The city had two synagogues, 15 prayer houses, and 15 schools. It is at this period was Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the famous Habad movement rabbi, was born. He will die in 1994 in Brooklyn. Also, in those years, Isaac Babel was a young boy in Nikolaev, before coming back to Odessa.

You can start your visit from Tsentralnaya street, toward Mala Morskaya, and until Velika Morskaya street. On the right, at number 71, you’ll find the building of the Landau Pharmacy, active in the 1870s, and which was one the the biggest in the city.

Taking the street in the other direction, you’ll cross Schneerson street (old Karl Liebknecht street): at number 15 you’ll find the only active synagogue of Nikolaev ran by the Habad movement. There is a mikvah as well. The Jewish community, around 2000 people, gathers here. The adjacent building is the first synagogue of the city, which was built in 1822, and that was sometimes called the cobblers’ synagogue -the Jewish craftsmen were in majority shoemakers for the sailors of the city. Although it hasn’t been in use since 1935, the building is in relatively good condition. Indeed, in 1935, the Soviet authority closed the synagogue and gave the building to various labor or cultural institutions. This sudden change of function explains why you will find soviet frescoes on the building’s facade.

At the corner of Velika Morskaya and Artilleriskaya, you’ll find at number 19 the old business school of Nikolaev. This building, mainly funded by Jewish tradespeople of the city, and therefore not affected by the quotas on Jewish students, was the school of Isaac Babel. A commemorative plaque outside the building is to be found.

On Spasskaya street, a parallel to Velika Morskaya, you can admire beautiful houses that once belonged to the Jewish nobility of the city and which are still in perfect condition. At number 18, you’ll find the Meshyres family house, and, at number 20, the Erlikh House. At number 33, you’ll find the Forshteter house.

Going back to Tsentralnaya street, and go toward Moskovskaya street. At the corner with Potemkinskaya street, at number 67, you’ll find the building that once housed one of the city’s heder. Built in the 1820 in a mauresque style, the house was a pharmacy before becoming a study place. The facade is still intact. Walking back to Moskovskaya street, you’ll see at number 69 the monument to rabbi Schneerson, erected in 2011 at the location of the house where the rabbi was born in 1902.

Finish your discovery of the Jewish Nikolaev by visiting the city edges. Walk on Tsentralnaia street until the end, at the corner with Kherson road, you’ll find the monument to the Shoah victims. About 10000 of the city’s Jews were killed during the Second World war, half of them in August 1941. The Nikolaev region hold a special place in the history of the bullet shoah. Indeed, in the north of Nikolaev were located the majority of the Romanian ghettos. The massacre locations are in general marked by a memorial, ans you can seek help by asking Nikolaev inhabitants where to look for. Going back on Kherson road for about 200 meters, you’ll find the Jewish cemetery, still in activity but poorly taken care of.