More than 40 synagogues served the 30,000 Jewish population in the famous “Shtetl” of Zhitomir, West Ukraine, before the days of the horrific holocaust. Only one of them survived, located in the center of town. A glorious building that wasn’t destroyed, but was closed and shut down.
Throughout the age of Communism the historic synagogue, now dating 120 years old, was inactive. Prayers and gatherings were declared illegal, and the few Jews left behind after the holocaust – most of the community fled into the depths of Russia and the remaining 10,000 were executed – had no place to call home.
Only after the fall of the Iron Curtain, in 1990, was the building returned to the revving community. At first, the building was slightly renovated, enabling it to be used, but within several years the old structure started collapsing. The building was declared dangerous, and the community moved to a rented apartment on the opposite side of the same road.
A few years ago, thanks to intense efforts by the heads and rabbis of the community, rebuilding of the historical Synagogue began. The renewed place of worship, planned to serve the estimated 5,000 members of the region’s community, now under intensive building will include a modern JCC, a soup kitchen and ‘Simcha’ home, communal offices, classrooms, a library and a state of the art Mikvah (ritual bath).
The rebuilding of the building’s foundations, has been made possible thanks to the generosity of philanthropist Mr. George Rohr and his family, and donors from the Zhitomir: Mr. Boris Rosenblatt, Mr. Sasha Rabinovitz, Mr. Moshe Zaslevski, Mr. Gandi Breski and Mr. Zhenya Gorodeski.