About Project "Survey of Synagogues in Galicia (Ukraine)"

Galicia, a province of the Habsburg Empirefrom 1772-1918, was not only a space where Poles, Ukrainians, Jews and Germans (including Austrians) lived. This region, which ceased to exist on political maps after 1918, was and still is for many a site of intersectionand co-existence of multiple cultures, languages, religions, and traditions. At the same time this region, which is now located partly in Poland and partly in Ukraine, is a symbol not only of the growth of a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional society, but also of its ruin and destruction in the 20th century: primarily during World WarII, the Holocaust, ethnic cleansings and deportations. 

During the Holocaust therichlayer of the material and spiritual Jewish culture was destroyed. In the Soviet years the remnants of this heritagewere abandoned and put to decay. It is only from the 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, that there began a gradual even if slow process of re-discovery and return to memory of the Jewish communities of Galicia in Ukraine. The renewal and preservation of their material heritage became an object of discussions, debates, and research.

Today, when the remaining synagogues and other Jewish sacred buildings in Ukraineare in such poor condition, often rebuilt in ways that make them unrecognizable, documentation becomes especially important: including architectural measurements and photographing. This was precisely the primary goal of the project "Survey of Synagogues in Galicia", which focused on synagogues and other Jewish sacred objects that remained on the territory of Galicia that is now part of Ukraine.This research project was an opportunity to preserve the material heritage of the Jewish communities of Galicia, at least in documents, and offer scholars and the public access to this material in the format of publication and an internet-resource. The project also included archival research of ritual buildings and centers of the religious and communal life of Jews in Galicia's cities and towns. In addition,under the aegis of this project two educational seminars were taught together with the National University "Lviv Polytechnic": "Architecture of Jewish Districts of Galician Towns," during the spring and fall semesters of the 2012 academic year.

The research was carried out in the cities and towns of Lviv, Ivano-Frankvivsk and Ternopil regions in 2011-2012. Architects made measurements and prepared documentation of 35 objects: primarily synagogues, but the list also included other buildings, themikvah (ritual bath), the beitha midrash (study hall), and the kloyz (rabbi's house). The material, photographs of buildings and blueprints, was placed on the site of the Center for Urban History. For more detail about the principles of documentation and location of objects on the site please read here.

The project is realized by the Center for Urban History in Lviv and the Center for Jewish Art in Jerusalem and architects in Lviv. 

This project adds to the research of synagogues in Ukraine carried out in the 1990s-early 2000s by the Center for Jewish Art in Jerusalem in cooperation with the Institute UkrZaxidProektrestavratsiia in Lviv. Researchers and architects from Israel and Ukraine took part in this project: Aliza Cohen-Mushlin, Sergei Kravtsov and Volodymyr Levin (Center for Jewish Art, Hebrew University in Jerusalem), Ihor Fuhol, Oleh Chornyi, Oksana Boiko, Ihor Andrushko (Institute UkrZaxidProektrestavratsiia). The documentation from this project is preserved in the archive of the Center for Jewish Art and preparations are being made to prepare this collection for digitalization.

In the realization of the project "Survey of Synagogues in Galicia (Ukraine)" in 2011-2012 the following individuals participated: Sergei Kravtsov and Volodymyr Levin from the Center for Jewish Art (Jerusalem), architects Oleh Chornyi, Volodymyr Sivers, Maksym Shvets, historian of architecture Oksana Boiko, Iryna Matsevko and Sofia Dyak (Center for Urban History). Please find the project materials here.

We hope that this project will be not only a good foundation for carrying out statistical and historical exploration, but will also facilitate the appearance of new research on the sacred space of Jewish communities in multi-ethnic cities and towns of pre-war Galicia. The documentation and measurements could also be used as practical material for course work for students of architecture. Access to the public of the research results createda platform for discussions connected with the revitalization and preservation of Jewish sacred buildings as monuments of the architectural and material multi-cultural heritage of Ukraine.

For questions or proposals, please contact the Center's academic coordinator, Dr. Iryna Matsevko at  i.matsevko@lvivcenter.org