A historic synagogue in the city of Drogobych, Western Ukraine was restored and opened to the public at on official ceremony last week. The opening became an important milestone in restoring the memory of the city’s once prominent Jewish community, which reached up to 17,000 people (half of the city’s population) before WWII.
The restoration of the building, which stayed in a dilapidated state for decades, has been originally initiated by FJC’S Zhitomir Jewish community ten years ago and later continued with the support from local Jewish organizations and activists, as well as with the help of the Committee of the descendants of Dgogobych’s Jewish residents now living in Israel and the US, headed by R’ Shmelke Pinter and Rabbi Moshe Gold.
Built in 1865, the monumental Neo-Roman style synagogue has been the largest one in Eastern Europe until its closing in 1939 by the Soviet regime. Since then the building was used as salt depository, a furniture store and grocery storage. At the opening the head of the local Jewish community, Mr. Yosef Karpin said the community hopes to create a Jewish museum in the restored synagogue, which could host Jewish art and Judaica exhibitions as well as illuminate the Jewish history of the city.
The opening ceremony was attended by representatives of Ukraine’s Jewish communities and organizations, as well as the descendants of the city’s Jewish residents, including Israeli painter and activist Varda Givoli – the group’s representative.
Among the main donors who contributed to the restoration project were Mr. Sam Rohr OBM in memory of R’ Monie Shapiro, R’ Mordechai Zeskind Landau and his family from London.
Photos by: Igor Salnikov