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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Archaeologists to look for foundations of the Jewish houses of worship

23 August, 2012 - 00:00

Excavations will start in Arsenalna Square and part of a block in Staroievreiska Street of Lviv in early September, 2012. This area has been associated with the Jewish community life in Lviv, serving as a separate personal space for entire Jewish population of the city for centuries. The main research objective is discovering foundations of the Great City Synagogue and Beit ha-Midrash (prayer house-cum-library) which were destroyed during the World War II. The excavations are part of the massive construction project of Synagogues Square commemorative place which aims to draw attention to the history of the Jewish community. They will be conducted by the Rescue Archaeology Service of the Institute of Archaeology (NAS of Ukraine) under Oleh Osaulchuk’s and Yurii Lukomsky’s direction.

The Jewish quarter of Lviv started its history in 1383. For centuries, a most diverse range of Jewish institutions functioned there, providing the community with its own cemetery, synagogue, ritual bath, hospital, girls’ school, etc. Almost all local residential houses are now listed as monuments. The Great City Synagogue, Beit ha-Midrash and the Turei Zahav (Golden Rose) Synagogue were the heart of this residential block (the latter building was completely looted in 1941 and blown up in 1943, with ceiling of the prayer hall collapsing and southern wall and gallery falling down; its Renaissance portal and part of the 18th century forged doors are still extant). The first two monuments were blown up by the Nazis in 1943, and the site has not been built up since. Competition to determine the best project of Synagogues Square was held in December 2010. The jury found concept by the Berlin architect Franz Reschke to be the best one. According to the press service of the Lviv City Council, his proposal calls for the former Beit ha-Midrash site continuing as an open for development green zone, the Great City Synagogue site being converted into a memorial square used for community meetings, and the Golden Rose site kept in its current shape. Franz Reschke visited the city in October 2011 to participate in joint Ukrainian-German project Municipal Development and Renovation of the Old City of Lviv and was invited to present his project and gather all the information necessary for its implementation.

By Khrystyna BONDARIEVA, Lviv