At the Neighbours’ Festival
August 7, 2015
St. Theodor square
The St Theodor square is located in a former suburban Jewish neighbourhood where several dozens of synagogues were situated before the war. The few surviving synagogues include a Jakob Glanzer synagogue built in 1844 for Hasidic flow of Hidushim.
During the German occupation of Lviv in 1941/1944, the building was used as a warehouse. On the side of the St Theodor square, the Nazis cut in a large entrance gate for big trucks. The building was largely destroyed. Rebuilt after the war, it used to be the only functioning synagogue in the Soviet Lviv until 1962. During the period of ‘Khrushchov thaw’, it was attended by delegates of diplomatic missions from Japan, Israel, and the USA. After the demise of the rabbi Jankel Gurari, Soviet authorities closed the synagogue, while the building was transferred to a polygraphic institute. In 1991, the synagogue was returned to the Jewish community. Presently, it hosts the Sholem Aleichem Society for Jewish Culture.
The synagogue and the square were and still are significant sites for Lviv Jews. It was the place where different cultures overlapped and coexisted. On the one hand, the history of the synagogue is about the history of the Shoah and obliteration of the community, while on the other hand, it is the story of Jewish life going on in Lviv despite all the historical calamities. The students working with this site appreciated the important contribution of cooperation with the Sholem Aleichem Society and the Hillel Youth Organization engaged in the project implementation.
The main goal of the "At the Neighbours" Festival was to communicate to local Lviv citizens about the Jewish history of this place through language, food, music, and traditions. The notion of the neighbourhood was an important category in the project. It relates both to the past, and to the present day. The festival was taking place on the premises of a street café At the Neighbours’ operating on St Theodor square in June-August, 2015. The program started off with a tour along the suburban quarter and a Jakob Glanzer Shul synagogue. The diverse life of the district was also illustrated by archive photos from the Center for Urban History. Masterclasses of Yiddish for children and adults aimed to introduce the language of Lviv Jews that can still be seen on the walls of the townhouses in the prewar advertisements. After the master classes of Jewish cuisine, dance and a concert of klezmer music, an official closing ceremony of the Summer School took place, with presenting certificates to the participants. At the end of the Festival, the visitors had a chance to watch a film "Boris Dorfman. A Mentsch" (directed by Uwe and Gabi Seltmann), and meet the protagonist, a 94-year-old activist of the Jewish community of Lviv, a native Yiddish speaker Boris Dorfman.
Authors of the project:
Iryna Vikyrchak (Ukraine), Aneta Skotnicza-Mularz (Poland), Olena Andronatiy (Ukraine), Yevhen Monastyrskyi (Ukraine), Justyna Hawelko (Poland)
Tutor of the workshop – Anna Chebotariova (Center for Urban History)
The workshop was a part of the summer school "Jewish History, Multiethnic Past, and Common Heritage: Urban Experience in Eastern Europe".