Jewish Heritage Europe

New photos — restored Sataniv, Ukraine, synagogue and Jewish cemetery

Exterior, restored fortress synagogue at Sataniv. Photo: Christian Herrmann

The German researcher  Christian Herrmann is on one of his regular trips to Ukraine to document Jewish heritage sites. On his trip, he visited Sataniv (Satanov) and was able to photograph the historic 16th century fortress synagogue, which has been undergoing extensive renovation. (See our previous posts  about the restoration — including “before” and “during” pictures — HERE and HERE.)

Christian has authorized us to publish some of his photos showing the current state of the building,  under Creative Commons License BY-NC-SA 4.0

Interior, showing Ark. Photo: Christian Herrmann
Interior, Sataniv synagogue showing Ark. Photo: Christian Herrmann

He reports on his Vanished World blog:

Finding the former synagogue is not difficult. The synagogue is still the dominant building in the old part of town. However, it has little in common with the photos I know. The building has been recently restored. Some craftsmen just climb down a ladder – I ask if I could visit the inside. A friendly gentleman welcomes me who is monitoring the construction work. Unfortunately, he does not speak any foreign language, but nevertheless shows and explaines everything to me. The synagogue dates from the 16th Century and is a typical fortress synagogue. Parts of the interior decoration – especially the Torah shrine – are very well preserved. We climb up to the roof via a narrow spiral staircase. A new roof has been built over the dome of the synagogue. Clearly visible are now the loopholes through which the synagogue could be defended. Five years, the restoration took tells me my companion. He is clearly proud of what has been done. He has good reasons to be proud. Many former synagogues are in very bad condition, this is one of the few cases where a synagogue was restored and saved.

Exterior Sataniv synagogue. Photo: Christian Herrmann
Exterior Sataniv synagogue. Photo: Christian Herrmann

Christian also visited the marvelous Jewish cemetery in Sataniv, which also dates back to the 16th century and is located near the synagogue; it has intricately carved gravestones featuring a wealth of vivid iconography.

View of the Sataniv synagogue from the Jewish cemetery. Photo: Christian Herrmann

His photos reveal how some of the gravestones underwent cleaning by Israeli students, as noted in the second half of this video we posted earlier. One example is this stone that bear the distinctive “three hares” motif — an optical illusion showing three hares chasing each other, but only three ears among them.

Compare his picture from February 2014 to JHE coordinator Ruth Ellen Gruber’s photo of the same stone from 2006.

Three Hares motif, 2014. Photo: Christian Herrmann
Three hares motif in Sataniv, 2006. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber



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