Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Karaite Kenesa in Kiev

Lately I've found myself learning about the architecture of Kiev, the city where I was born. To my surprise I found that one very famous building is the Karaite Kenesa (Synagogue?) which was built at the end of the 19th century. The project was funded by the brothers Solomon and Moisei Kogen, wealthy Karaites who came to Kiev from Crimea and founded a tobacco/cigarette factory which made them a fortune.

Apparently, Kiev was home to about 800 Karaites at the time. How they came there I don't know. I surmise that they came from Crimea to work in the Kogens' factory.

When I have some leisure time, I'd like to learn more about these Karaites. I am especially curious about their relationship with the non-Jewish world as well as the Rabbanite Jews. If I remember correctly, the Karaites were not bothered by the Nazis during the Holocaust, which is very puzzling to me. Did the Nazis only have a problem with Talmudic Jews? Clearly the Karaites were non-Aryan, they spoke Hebrew, and they maintained similar religious practices to the Rabbanites. Why would the Nazis make such a fine point distinction?


Blogger The back of the hill said...

As a minor not really related matter, my grandfather was in Kiev during wwOne, as a US Army surgeon with the American Red Cross contingent aiding the Russians.

They absquatulated rather precipitously when events got out of hand.

February 10, 2011 1:34 PM  
Anonymous Nechama said...

What area of Kiev is this building in? It looks familiar, but I can not place it.

When I took my son to Ukraine in the summer of 2009 we had a private tour of Jewish Kiev. It was conducted by a very knowledgeable tour guide (Christian) who had an amazing amount of knowledge about the architecture of the city. It seems that very many of the amazing beautiful buildings were built by the Jews. The National Bank building is the former residence of the Brodsky family (of whom apparently there are no descendants living in Ukraine now) She showed us the house that was the primary residence of Sen. Joe Lieberman's Grandfather (he was one of the sugar barons of the time). It is now the House of Writers (Dom Pisatelei). We attempted to get in, but were stopped at the door by a grumpy looking maintenance surprise there.

February 13, 2011 7:42 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

Nechama, it is located here

How did you find your tour guide - does the company have a name?

February 13, 2011 1:32 PM  
Anonymous Ne said...

I kept the tour guide's business card for a while after our trip, but now I can not find it. The tour was arranged for me by a friend and I can get in touch with his assistance who did the legwork to set it up and let you know. ...And we did see this building!

February 13, 2011 5:52 PM  

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