Famous SadgoraSynagogue in Chernivtsi will open this year
When recently in the local press it was reported that in Chernivtsi, but rather in a remote district Sadgora plan to create an international center of Hasidim, many of Chernivtsi asked the question: is it will be the second capital of Bukovina Uman? In reality, everything looks different, and so the center is not cited, and the second Uman in Western Ukraine will not.
RISU correspondent visited Sadgora where the work on the restoration of the local synagogue and arrangement of the rebbe’s grave is ongoing.
These two objects will become a place of Hasidic pilgrimage from around the world. And since they will be completed this year, respectively, the city expects many more Hasidim and tourists. RISU has already talked about this Jewish‘Vatican’on the Prut river.
The Jewish heritage is known to attract hundreds of tourists to Chernivtsi, as well asdowntown Chernivtsi, the Jewish cemetery and, of course, Sadgora. After World War II 80 percent of the city’s Jews lived there.
Sadgora became known due to the figure of RebbeIsrael Friedman famous in the Jewish world. It was his family that built the synagoguethere, which is now being restored. This historic building and the rebbe’s grave in the old Jewish cemetery in Sadgora are the reasons to talk about Hasidic Jewish center as a place of spiritual pilgrimage. This will be the second revival of the neighborhood remote from the city center.
Currently a working group comprising representatives of religious and public organizations, architects, city officials have started working on the issue of Jewish center. According to Deputy Mayor Maria Porchuk, who chairs the working group, the International Jewish center (or fund)is likely to be discussed. Actually, this is up to the point, as Sadgora is waiting for both pilgrims and ordinary tourists. The rebbe’s tombwill become largely a place of spiritual pilgrimage, but it is not only the Hasidim who are likely to be willing to see the restored SadgoraSynagogue.
“We are complete all work on the facade in the next five months,”says Michael Krays, who oversees all renovations here on behalf of the descendants of the Sadgora rebbe, includingthe historic terrace, “we’ll make partial landscaping and complete all the rooms first on the floor “turnkey”. Outside landscaping and second floor will remain for the autumn. First, so to speak, we plan the opening for mid-summer when the main hall is ready for prayer, and the main opening forlate autumn.”
Renovated buildings can alreadybe seen from outside. In repairing the facade a unique technology for restoration of old brick and stucco decorations was used.
As experts say, unfortunately, 70 percent of brickshave been damaged... the windows have been already replaced and the upper part is decorated with beautiful stained glass windows made by an artist fromChernivtsi Anatoliy Fedirko. Each mural is the image featuring one of the stories from the Torah.
By the way, Fedirko’s name is well known in Ukraine because of the provocation manner in which he creates a variety of installations, most of which are on display in the center of Chernivtsi, near the bookstore.
An abandoned old house where the Rebbe’s family once lived,is still standing here, at the synagogue. Subsequently, this small hotel is to be built for Hasidic pilgrims. Although, the rooms fortheir lodging have been arranged (one hundred of beds) right now on the second floor. The meals will be provided at the visitor’s cost.
“The stay of Hasidic pilgrims in Sadgora,” continues Myhailo Krais,“is carriedby organizers. Each group visit will be coordinated with the son of rebbe Joseph Friedman, who personally takes care of renovation and subsequent exploitation of the synagogue, so that a thousand of people won’t come at a time.”
Many Chernivtsi residents have asked themselves a uestion regarding the perspective establishment of a Jewish center: “Are we to becomethe second Uman?"
“We won’t,”Mykhailo Krais is confident. “As you know, Rebbe Nachman is buried in Uman. And this rebbe has left a will: those who come in Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) to his grave and read prayers there,will do very well for themselves and God. So the followers of his Hasidic court and ordinary Jews travel to Uman on Rosh Hashanah. The rebbe of Sadgora did not leave such kind ofwill,therefore we are not facing a threat of a large number of people coming in one day. Only on Rosh Hashanah and later on the rebbe’s remembrance daya mass pilgrimagecould happen (but not thousands of people, just three or four hundred of Hasidim). By the way, these pilgrimages have been taking place in recent years. But they remain inconspicuous, including through tradition of Rebbe Yisrael Friedman’s followers, rejecting extra publicity. However, in any case, when Sadgora will become the place of universal importance, local businesses can get involved too, build a hotel, acafé nearby, produce souvenirs.”
It should be noted that along with the restoration of the synagogue, therebbe’s tomb at the old Jewish cemeteryis being improved.