Exciting news to learn at Hanukkah — work is progressing on the restoration of the historic Great Synagogue in Sharhorod, Ukraine.
The fortress-like synagogue, believed built in 1589 and one of the oldest in Ukraine, served as part of the town’s defenses. During the Turkish occupation from 1672 to 1699, it was used as a mosque. It was closed in 1930 under Soviet rule and was turned into a juice factory. The sanctuary was cut in two horizontally, but the exterior retained intact, as did the four-pillar central bimah. Now listed as a historic monument, the synagogue has been returned to the ownership of the small Jewish community, though the huge vats and other equipment remained in place for years
Restoration of the building began around a year ago.
According to a Facebook Group set up by project administrators to raise funds and monitor the restoration, work since then has entailed:
— Removal of 60 tons of waste from the interior
— Emergency repair of the roof to stop leakage that had damaged walls walls. This included
a) replacement and reinforcement of beams
b) waterproofing the inner walls of the attic
— Partial repair of turrets
— Work to repair wooden floors
Synagogue expert Sergey R. Kravtsov, of the Center for Jewish Art in Jerusalem, called this a “huge breakthrough.”
According to the Facebook Group the project has four stages, with a total cost an estimated $170,000:
1 – Replacement of roofing
2 – Dismantling of the ceiling between the first and second floor in the main hall, which was installed during the Soviet period when the building was used as a juice factory
3 – Interior restoration work
4 – Facade restoration works
To date, financing has come from private donors, including descendants of Jews from Sharhorod.