Size of the resource:
90х140 mm
Library of the Institute of Ethnology Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Lviv
Biblioteka Instytutu Narodoznawstwa, Lwów

On the crossroad of several streets in the city center, just steps away from the Ringplatz (Central Square) a Choral Temple was built between 1873 and 1877 in a moresque style by the architect Julian Zachariewicz from Lemberg (Lviv). The synagogue was supposed to be a reformed temple of the more liberal oriented Jews, in contrast to the orthodox Great Synagogue in Synagogengasse in the lower parts of town. However, the Temple was not reformed in todays meaning of the word: there was no organ and a separate section for the ladies. Services were held in German language, the common language of most Jews of Chernivtsi. In order to raise money for the project, the most prominent representatives of the Jewish Community founded the Czernowitzer Israelitische Tempelverein (Temple Association) was founded, main donations came from the Zucker and Wagner families. The foundation stone was put in 1873 by Chief Rabbi Dr. Igel and the Orthodox Bishop Dr. Hacman. Among the several ethnic groups and religions in Chernivtsi, the Jews became the biggest and most important during the Austrian rule. Before the first World War around one third of the population of he city was Jewish, in 1919 the percentage of Jews rose to 47 percent. The Temple was the biggest of more than 70 synagogues and prayer houses in Chernivtsi. In the Austrian epoque, the street linking the Temple with the Ringplatz (Central Square) was named Tempelgasse. In July 1941 Romania occupied Chernivtsi from the Soviets, and together with German troops carried out massacres on the Jewish population. Within a few days the most prominent representatives of Jewish life in the city, among them Chief Rabbi Abraham Mark, were murdered, the Temple was set on fire and burned down to ashes. After the war, the Soviets tried to blow up the ruin but failed to do so. In 1959 the former temple was turned into a cinema, deprived of its dome and most of the ornaments.  Here one of the most prominent singers of the time between the wars, the Tenor Josef Schmidt started his career in the temple choir. Today a memorial plaque inside the building reminds of this famous son of Chernivtsi.
Helmut Kusdat

Czernowitz, Synagogue, Jewish Temple
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