According to city officials in L’viv, on-site work is to begin this week on the “Space of Synagogues” project, which will memorialize destroyed synagogues in the heart of the city’s former downtown Jewish quarter.
A press release states that the first step will be the conservation of the ruins of the Golden Rose, or Turei Zahav, synagogue, originally built in the 16th century. Details are to be presented to the media at a news conference on Monday.
The Space of Synagogues is an initiative aimed at commemorating the history of the Jewish community in Lviv, raising awareness about the tragedy of the Holocaust, visualizing the common past, and creating new memorial and educational spaces in the city.The first stage of the project includes the conservation of the surviving fragments of the Golden Rose synagogue, marking of the territory of the Beth Hamidrash (house of study) located nearby, and creation of the memorial installation “Perpetuation.”
Rethinking the meaning of this space and more broadly Jewish history as common heritage is part of a broader dialogue with the past and in contemporary society in L’viv and Ukraine.[…]
The initiative is being undertaken by the Lviv City Council’s Office for Historical Environment Preservation in partnership with the Center for Urban History of East Central Europe and the Ukrainian-German project “Municipal Development and Rehabilitation of the Old City of Lviv”, implemented jointly by the City of L’viv and the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) GmbH, in cooperation with Jewish organizations in Ukraine and beyond.
In conjunction with the implementation of the project, an open-air exhibit on the Golden Rose synagogue by the American photographer Jason Francisco was opened last week near the site.
According to posters now placed at the site, the conservation of the Golden Rose synagogue will preserve existing fragments and outline some of its missing elements. “Together with marking of the site of the Beth Hamidrash this is essential step to show and recognize the heritage of the historical Jewish quarter in L’viv.”
Further stages of the project, planned for 2016-17, “include the site of the Great City Synagogue as well as educational and museum projects on Jewish history and heritage,” it states. The Perpetuation memorial installation will show “Jewish history through individual voices based on selected quotes from memoirs, diaries and works by rabbis and writers, and other texts by the members of Jewish community in L’viv.”
The projects, it states, “offer a modern minimalist proposal for each historical site and integrate them into the urban environment in a new way. All the projects are reversible according to UNESCO guidelines, and do not exclude future possibilities, including the synagogue’s reconstruction.”
As noted in the press release, the idea for the commemorative project idea emerged during an international conference held in L’viv in 2008.
This resulted in an international design competition to mark three sites of Jewish history in L’viv (in addition to the synagogues space, these were the only remnant of the Old Jewish Cemetery that has not been built over, and the site of the Yanovsky concentration camp). Winning designs were chosen by an international jury in December 2010. (Jewish Heritage Europe Coordinator Ruth Ellen Gruber was a member of the jury.)
The news site zaxid.net states in a comprehensive article that the Space of Synagogues design to be implemented includes elements of both the first-place and second-place designs chosen at the international competition.
It also notes that since the competition, development of the project has come under criticism from some quarters, particularly from local activist Meylakh Sheykhat, who believes that the Golden Rose synagogue should be rebuilt.