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Use our multimedia maps, and explore the family pictures, archival material, and personal stories of 21 Jewish Holocaust survivors to get a unique insight into the rich Jewish heritage of these two European cities.
Jewish life in Chişinău was scattered all over the city. Poorer Jewish families lived primarily in the lower town, while wealthier Jews lived in the upper town. Alexandrovskaya Street was the central boulevard. Today, this street is called Bulevard Stephan Cel Mare.
Many Jews lived here in the heart of the city, where they could find Jewish shops and restaurants. To see and to be seen- that was what Alexandrovskaya Street was all about -also for members of the Jewish community.
In interviews with Centropa, many elderly Jews remembered the lively promenade. One of them is Bella Chanina, who was born in Chişinău in 1923:
I remember well the Chişinău of my childhood – lying out like a chess board: you could see the end of a street lined with trees, when you were standing at its beginning. The central Alexandrovskaya Street sort of divided the town into two parts: the wealthier upper part and the lower poorer town, closer to the Byk River. There were wealthy houses and apartments in the upper town: wealthy Jews like the Kogan, Shor and Klinger families lived there. There were many shops on Alexandrovkaya Street owned by Jews.
I don’t remember whether they were open on Sabbath. I remember the Jewish-owned Nemirovskiy jewelry and watch shop. His two sons, young handsome men, worked in the store. When I turned 13, my parents said they didn’t have money to organize a party for me, but that we would buy me a watch. They bought me a wristwatch at the Nemirovskiy shop that served me many years.
The shopping street was also a popular residential area. Ida Voliovich also lived here, next to other Jewish as well as non-Jewish families:
We lived in an apartment on Alexandrovskaya Street 51а. […] There were Jewish, Russian, Greek and Armenian store owners in Chişinău. The owner of our house was Danovich, a Jewish man. […] Our small apartment was far to the back of the yard. There were two rooms and a kitchen in our apartment. There was a common toilet in the yard. There were Jewish and Moldovan families in our house. The children played in the yard, going home just for a meal. There was no ethnic separation from what I can remember.
Zlata Tkach was born in 1928. She, too, remembered how her parents took her to Chişinău´s main boulevard when she was a child:
My parents took me to the confectionery shop on Alexandrovskaya Street, the main street of Chişinău, where we had ice cream. Alexandrovskaya Street was paved with gravel like the majority of the streets in Chişinău, and there was a tram running there. There were one- storied houses, some of them were nice. There were many shops owned by Jews on Alexandrovskaya Street.
In addition to shops and restaurants, the city´s cultural life also took place around Alexsandrovskaya Street.
Isaac Rozenfain was born in Chişinău in 1921. In his Centropa interview, he remembered going to the cinema of his youth and strolling along the boulevard:
I loved cinema and wanted to become a film director. I often went to the Orpheum on the corner of Alexandrovskaya and Pushkin Streets, the Coliseum on Podolskaya Street, and the Odeon cinema. I didn’t want to miss a single movie. However, this was a problem. We weren’t really wealthy, and a ticket was rather expensive for a high school student. […] The high school students liked walking along Alexandrovskaya Street, the Broadway of our town. We walked from Gogol to Sinadinovskaya Street, on the right side of the railway station. We made acquaintances, walked and talked.
When a ghetto was established in 1941, Jewish life in Chişinău took a dramatic turn: there were no longer any Jewish shops on Alexandrovskaya, no Jewish families in the houses and no Jewish high school students on the street and in the cinemas.
In the Soviet era after World War Two, the street was renamed Lenin Street, and the former Jewish character of the city’s main artery remained only a memory.