Another Jewish heritage restoration project has turned to crowdfunding to raise support — current efforts that are under way by volunteers to make emergency repairs to the roof of the ruined Great Maharsha Synagogue at Ostroh, Ukraine.
Built in 1627, the synagogue is an early example of the nine-bay sanctuary. It was damaged during the Holocaust and then used as a pharmacological warehouse under the Soviets.
The goal of the Go Fund Me campaign, which aims to raise $5,000, is:
to raise the much needed funds to repair the already severely damaged roof before it fully collapses possibly rendering the building unsalvageable.
This is not a full reconstruction project. At this time we are focused on the immediate measure to build the necessary supporting structure to prevent the roof from collapsing. This will permit additional time for the community to raise the funds needed to do complete all the necessary repairs and restore the entire synagogue to its previous glory.
In December, the synagogue and its fate were the focus of a JHE “Have Your Say” article by Sergey Kravtsov, of the Center for Jewish Art: The Great Maharsha Synagogue in Ostroh: Memory and Oblivion. Have we reached the point of no return?
In recent decades, the pharmaceutical facility was removed from the Maharsha Synagogue, and its roof collapsed and also disappeared. The building is deteriorating rapidly, no longer protected from harsh winter weather. Descendants of Ostroh Jews who now reside in Israel came to an agreement with the regional authorities some years back to convert the ruined building into a museum, and the plan for its reconstruction was prepared. The Ukrainian side had even assembled timber for a new roof. The financial crisis of 2008, however, paralyzed all further efforts, and by now even the construction material that had been assembled has vanished.