Vul. Brativ Mikhnovskykh – former "Tsori Hilyod" synagogue

ID: 568

The Tsori Gilod (pol. Cori Gilod) synagogue is located within residential housing of two streets and is notable for its large windows and Secession-style decoration. This is one of a few Ukraine’s synagogues where murals have been preserved; here they were made by Maximilian Kugel. In 1989 the building was restored to the Lviv Jewish community Beis Aharon V’Yisrael.

History

1897 — a single-storied prayer house of the Tsori Gilod society is built.
1923 — a project of the synagogue is designed by Albert Kornblüth.
1925 — the synagogue construction.
1944 — a storehouse is arranged in the building.
1989 — the building is restored to the Jewish community Beis Aharon V’Yisrael.
1990-1991 — repairs are carried out in the synagogue: its layout is changed, the skylight is boarded.
2006 — the authentic mural is damaged in course of a renovation


The charitable society Tsori Gilod ("Healing Balm") was founded by Rabbi Joachim Gutman in 1899 (the society’s charter was approved on 31 December 1907). Its aim was taking care of orphans and the elderly, as well as of its deceased members' families. In 1897 a single-storied seven-window-wide house was built by Moses Griffel, a wealthy Jew, on a purchased plot located between Chotymska and Kostopalni streets, in the depth of the parcel. In 1912 this area became owned by the Tsori Gilod society. According to the Magistrate’s permission , the society adapted the building for a prayer house with a men’s and a women’s halls (respectively, 10.2 x 9.65 m and 9.65 x 4.0 m). In 1923 the society was granted permission to build a synagogue in place of the house of prayer. The project was designed by architect Albert Kornblüth, a member of the Society. In 1925 the synagogue was opened. Seats for 384 persons were arranged in the prayer hall (14.2 x 14 m).

The Tsori Gilod synagogue was not destroyed in the time of the Second World War; during the Soviet occupation it was used as a warehouse, and in 1989 it was restored to the Lviv Jewish community Beis Aharon V’Yisrael. In 1990-1991, under the direction of Rabbi Awrum Rozental, who came from Israel, repair works were carried out. A room was arranged on the second tier of the galleries; the first tier of the  galleries at the south and north walls was partly closed up with plaster blocks, and offices for the society and for the rabbi were arranged there. On the ground floor, in place of the central aisle, storage and utility rooms were arranged; a kitchen and a dining room, as well as a dormitory for the yeshiva students, were attached to the north wall.

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Architecture

Today the Tsori Gilod synagogue stands in the block's housing; its east façade overlooks Khotynska street while its main, west façade faces Brativ Mikhnovskykh street, where a small courtyard, fenced off with a gated wall, is located. Both the façades are representative and notable for their large semicircular windows.  The east façade is accentuated by a large round window with the Star of David on the axis above the Torah niche. The arcade consisting of fourteen semicircular little arches in the façade’s top part resembles an attic, which was a defining feature of ancient synagogue architecture. There are discrepancies between the interior design and the original project as the two tiers of surrounding galleries with parapets are absent in the 1923 project proposed by Albert Kornblüth.

Originally the prayer hall had a skylight in the center of the false (wooden) vault, decorated with a stained glass with the Star of David. Due to lack of funds for restoration, in 1990 the skylight was boarded. Some fragments of stained glass windows have survived. The prayer hall’s walls and arches are covered with polychrome paintings by Maximilian Kugel. In the paintings, one can see traditional symbolic images of birds (storks, swallows) and animals. On the Torah niche’s east wall, there are griffins holding two Tables of the Covenant; on the opposite wall one can see an open Torah, wrapped with a talit. Four symbolic animals (a lion, a tiger, a deer, and an eagle) are depicted on the vault’s coves. The emblems of the twelve tribes of Israel are traditionally located along the frieze belt. The north and south walls are covered with identical images of musical instruments, framed with illusory architectural decorations. A landscape with the tomb of Rachel, the progenitress; the west wall of the Jerusalem Temple; the interior of the Temple of Solomon and the Tables of the Covenant on the Sinai Mount clearly illustrate the building’s purpose. Between the east wall windows, there are depictions of the Temple veil.

The murals of the Tsori Gilod synagogue are one of the few surviving synagogue paintings in Ukraine. Unfortunately, due to an unprofessional renovation the Tsori Gilod synagogue's murals have lost a touch of the author's soul and their authentic values.

Personalities

Joachim Gutman — rabbi and founder of the Tsori Gilod society
Moses Griffel — a wealthy Jewish entrepreneur who purchased the plot for the synagogue building
Albert Kornblüth (1876-1942) — architect, designer of the synagogue, a member of the Tsori Gilod society 
Maximilian Kugel — artist who painted the interior walls and ceilings in the synagogue 
Awrum Rozental — Tsori Gilod synagogue rabbi from Israel 

Sources

1. State Archive of Lviv Oblast (DALO) 2/2/997. 
2. DALO 110/1/107.
3. Каталог синагог. Вісник ін-ту "Укрзахідпроектрес­таврація". (Львів, 1998. – Ч. 9. С. 97-99)
4. Гельстон Й. Синагоги Львова. (С. 6-9, 15)

By Oksana Boyko