For decades, the historic ‘Tailor and Shoemaker Synagogue’ of Berditchev served as a thriving center of Jewish life in the famous Ukrainian shtetl, even after the horrific and devastating Holocaust and during the communist regime. Now, 80 years later, the Synagogue will be reconstructed, renovated and returned to its previous glory.
The Jewish shtetl of Berditchev, famous for its prominent Chief Rabbi, Reb Levi Yitzchak of righteous memory, was populated by tens of thousands of Jews for hundreds of years. Among its many synagogues, the ‘Tailor and Shoemaker Synagogue’ was one of the very few that stayed active at nearly all times, even during the communist era when religious activity was declared illegal.
Recently, an unrepairable leak appeared on the roof of the 150-year-old synagogue, the overall safety of the building deteriorated, and the heating system became dysfunctional. Local engineers, after inspecting the building, informed the city’s Rabbi, Moshe Thaler, that the synagogue must be closed in order not to endanger the worshipers.
In parallel, an American Jew who learned about the recent developments pledged to cover most of the reconstruction costs, encouraging the community to utilize the current situation to speed up the renovation efforts. Additional support and logistic assistance has been provided by the Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine that is assisting the community to advance the project.
“This was one of the country’s most beautiful synagogues,” says Rabbi Moshe Thaler. “Now the building will not only be renovated but also expanded, totaling 600 square meters that will serve both the community members and many tourists. The historic motifs will be preserved, a new women’s section will be built, as well as a mikvah, dining room and kitchen. We pray that peace will soon prevail and all are invited to visit this exceptional synagogue.”