Former Jewish Temple


Photograph (printed on paper)
Size of the resource:
170x120 mm
Helmut Kusdat
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.
The photo, most likely taken before the First World War, shows the southern facade of the temple, seen from Senkovic Gasse. The house to the right represents the first generation of stone buildings in Chernivtsi, dating back to the first half of the 19th c. This house has been replaced by appartment buildings in the 1950s.

Helmut Kusdat
Czernowitz, Synagogue, Jewish Temple