Berdichev town is situated in the historic region of Volhynia, often called "The Jerusalem of Volhynia", now in Zhitomir oblast, Ukraine.From the 16th century till the end of the 18th, Berdichev was under the dominion of Poland, and the Polish family of Tishkewitz, the hereditary owners of that domain, ruled over it as they pleased. Apart from two single references to individual Jews from Berdichev in 1593 and 1602 (was mentioned that the owners of the "new town" farmed out a certain Jew to operate the mill and collect bridge taxes on their behalf), there is no evidence that a Jewish community existed in Berdichev before 1721. Under the Soviet government, most of the synagogues were closed. Yiddish continued to receive official acknowledgment and Yiddish schools were opened in Berdichev. In 1924, a government law court was established there, the first in Ukraine to conduct its affairs in Yiddish. According to the 1926 census, of the 30,812 Jews in Berdichev, 28,584 declared Yiddish as their mother-tongue. However, by the 1930's complaints were heard about curtailment of the use of Yiddish in government offices in Berdichev. A Yiddish periodical "Der Arbeter"appeared in Berdichev about twice weekly until the middle of the 1930's. All Jewish cultural activities there were suspended before World War II.