Jewish activists and local media in Odessa have raised an alarm about the potential impact of a six-story apartment block about to be built next door to the former Meat Butchers’ synagogue, which has housed the multi-purpose Migdal JCC since 1992.
In a campaign called #SaveMigdal, JCC activists have warned that construction on the new building could threaten the structural integrity of the brick former synagogue, a locally recognized historic site that was built in 1909 and is already classed as in poor condition.
“The local Jewish community is shocked and outraged,” Migdal Deputy Director Polina Blinder told JHE in an email.
“We are writing letters, communicating with journalists, posting on social media about the situation. Local Jews are asking the authorities for help and doing everything possible to ensure that the synagogue building be strengthened before the multistory construction starts,” she said. “To date, unfortunately, the community itself alone cannot prevent the authorities from continuing their plans on this Jewish historical site.”
According to photographs posted on Facebook, work has not yet started on the new building, to be constructed on a corner site, replacing a small, one-story building that has been housing a strip club.
Migdal activists said they have been meeting with the building company to find a way that, if the construction of the apartment block goes ahead, the structure of the synagogue can be strengthened to prevent damage or collapse.
Migdal activists say that the new building will stand just three meters from the former synagogue and that besides threatening the stability of the synagogue building, it will both restrict access to the JCC and “deprive the synagogue of its outside storage space.”
They say that the multistory apartment block also violates building codes in the historic center of the city.