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The Tempel in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine

 

Introduction

 

In the town then called Stanisławów, Jewish settlement began in the 17th century and grew over the centuries. A wide range of Jewish institutions developed in the city including an estimated 56 synagogues just prior to World War II serving a community of 25,000, around 33% of the total population. The larger Stanisławów administrative district was a heavily populated Jewish area with many Jews of today having ancestral ties to the region.

The striking Tempel Synagogue was constructed at the end of the 19th century during the Austro-Hungarian Empire, designed in a neo-Moorish style out of primarily brick material.

 

The Challenge

In Stanisławów, 1,500 Jews survived World War II and the Soviet authorities turned the Tempel into a medical academy club for what became, in 1962, the city of Ivano-Frankivsk.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Synagogue was returned to the Jewish community under the leadership of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS (the former Soviet Union). Today, long-serving Rabbi Moyshe Kolesnik holds regular services and events for the Jewish community of the city and surrounding region. 

However, maintaining the building has proved an ongoing struggle. During severe weather in 2020, the Tempel suffered significant structural damage which was stabilized for the near term but served to highlight the need for a full restoration.

 

The Plan

A group of Ivano-Frankivsk Jewish descendants and leaders of the Ivano-Frankivsk Jewish community recently formed in partnership with the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS to explore how they might work to support, protect and develop the Synagogue site.

A concept has been proposed that would stabilise and preserve the building, restoring it to its original state, including the striking Star of David-topped domes that were demolished during Soviet rule. The plan also involves creating a Jewish heritage centre for the city and region which would showcase Rabbi Kolesnik’s extensive archival collection.

The Foundation for Jewish Heritage has been providing advice and proposed that a feasibility study be undertaken to clarify more precisely the possibilities of the project.