Christian Herrmann has provided an update on the recently discovered murals he saw in a small room of the Groisse Shil — Great Synagogue — in Chernivtsi (Czernowitz), now used as a carpentry workshop.
He writes on his Vanishing World blog that he received the following information about this exciting discovery from the Museum of the History and Culture of Bukovinian Jews in Chernivtsi:
The wall paintings were discovered about three months ago. The renewed room will be an office, but the wall paintings will be preserved and will be accessible for the public through guided tours of the Jewish museum. The murals consist of two layers from different periods. The dominant ones were painted by Isaac Eisicowicz who had a shop in the same street. The Jewish Museum is preparing a photo exhibition about wall paintings in synagogues of Bukovina, including pictures from the Ukrainian part as well as from the Romanian part.
Many surviving synagogue buildings in Bukovina (both on the Ukrainian and Romanian sides) bear wonderful paintings.
Boris Khaimovich, of the Center for Jewish Art at Hebrew University in Jerusalem has written an insightful book focusing on the wall paintings of one of the other synagogues in Chernivtsi, the Beit Tfila Benyamin synagogue, which is still in use as a synagogue, but his book provides a rich analysis of the iconography of synagogue paintings in this part of eastern Europe in general: The Work of Our Hands to Glorify: Murals of Beit Tfila Benyamin Synagogue in Chernovits. Kiev: Spirit and Letter, 2008.
Painted ceiling of the Beit Tfila Benyamin Synagogue. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber