Jewish Heritage Europe

Ukraine update: New video shows dramatic progress at Ostroh’s Great Maharsha Synagogue; restoration of interior columns

Screen grab of restoration of interior of Ostroh Great Maharsha synagogue

We’ve been following with great interest the progress of the restoration of the Great Maharsha Synagogue in Ostroh, Ukraine. This new video, showing the restoration of the capitals of the columns, is, well, thrilling — given the state of the building just three years ago.



Restoration work has been going on since 2016, spearheaded by local activist Grigori Arshinov. It got a new roof in March 2017. In a Facebook post, Arshinov said that despite financial constraints, more than half of the ceiling and two-thirds of the walls have so far been plastered, most of the new windows have been restored, and work is now focusing on the decor. “Seven of the eight Corinthian capitals have already been restored. One of the capitals of the column is restored too!”

See more photos and more about the restoration on the Facebook Group

Screen grab on columns under restoration in Ostroh Great Maharsha Synagogue

Built around 1627, the synagogue is an important example of a seminal architectural design for synagogues that emerged in eastern and then western Europe in the 17th century: the nine-bay layout, which symbolized the Twelve Tribes of Israel surrounding the Sanctuary.

Damaged during the Holocaust, it was then used as a pharmacological warehouse under the Soviets, and later abandoned.

We have posted several times about the progress of the restoration, starting in December 2015 with The Great Maharsha Synagogue in Ostroh: Memory and Oblivion. Have we reached the point of no return? , an article by Sergey R. Kravtsov of the Center for Jewish Art about this history of the building — in which he wondered whether it might be too late to save it.

Arshinov told a conference in L’viv in September 2016 that he had been inspired to push for the restoration by Kravtsov’s writing. 

Ruined Maharsha Synagogue in Ostroh, Ukraine, 2011. Photo © Sergey Kravtsov

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