Jakob Glanzer Shul is one of the last remaining synagogues in Lviv. The building is in bad condition; an adjuncting wall already collapsed. Since years a young man fights for the preservation of the synagogue. I met him today.
Jakob Glanzer Shul was built in mid 19th century. Its construction was funded by a merchant, after whom it was named. The Hasidic shul was the second-largest synagogue in the city. It served as a synagogue until the early 60s; the Soviets transformed it into a gym. After the independence of Ukraine it was was given to the Jewish community and served as a culture center. Some years ago a storm destroyed parts of the roof; water came in and caused more demage. It was Sasha Nazar’s initiative to restore the roof. Sasha has plans with the building. I took my chance to meet him today.
The huge prayer hall was in a mess, when Sasha and I entered it. A cement mixer, wooden boards and all kinds of construction materials are stored here. Sasha pointed to the ceiling. ‘We had to remove some parts of the decoration, otherwise they would have crashed down’ he said. But now the place is safe. Sasha does not dream of a perfect restauration. He thinks, historical layers should remain visible and tell the story of the place. His aim is to preserve what is left.
What to do with a synagogue in a city with a small Jewish community, that already has a synagogue? Sasha dreams of a vivid culture center. ‘We could have exhibitions here and other kind of events’ he told me. It is more than a dream. One local artist already agreed to exhibit. ‘Over there we will build a stage; it will have a curtain and a backstage’ Sasha continued. In spring he hopes to have first events here.
We walked up to the second floor of the women gallery. Here are some simple furnitured rooms. Sasha meets here with other young people to make plans for further works – not only in the Jabob Glanzer Shul. He works with an organisation, called the ‘Lviv Volunteer Center’, which is part of the local Hesed-Arieh, a branch of a Jewish Charitable Foundation. Sasha and his friends are involved in cemetery clean-ups, preservation works and care for the elderly.
‘Many young people try to change the country’ explained Sasha. ‘But some gave up frustrated and are leaving to western countries.’ So far it looks like Sasha would stay.
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