Stolen objects from another Ukrainian synagogue found in Moscow
This is the second synagogue in the Ternopil region plundered by the Russians.
As uncovered by the "Ukraine Incognita" team, in 2014, at the behest of the Chief Rabbi of Russia, Berel Lazar, not only the 18th-century synagogue in Chortkiv but also the synagogue in Pidhaytsi (also in the Ternopil region) were robbed. The latter's construction dates back to the late 16th to early 17th century. The synagogue in Chortkiv (18th century) holds the status of a locally significant architectural monument, while in Pidhaytsi, it is a national architectural monument.
In 2014, from the ancient synagogue in Pidhaytsi, unique relics vanished - a Baroque carved white stone decoration from the prayer hall niche and a carved tablet with the inscription "These are the gates of the Lord - only the righteous may enter through them" (Psalm 118), which adorned the entrance to the sanctuary. The exact month of this occurrence is unknown, but these relics were still in their rightful place in the summer of 2014.
The attempt to ascertain the circumstances linking the theft of the three-hundred-year-old doors in Chortkiv with the disappearance of the almost four-hundred-year-old carved ornamentation in Pidhaytsi met with success. The tablet, which until recently adorned the entrance to the national architectural monument, was indeed found in the exhibition of a Moscow museum. Interestingly, the stolen relic from Pidhaytsi is displayed there alongside the stolen doors of the synagogue in Chortkiv.
As stated in the report, the Russians, aided by their Ukrainian associates, stole these significant relics (which cannot be easily concealed) when the Russian-Ukrainian war was already ongoing, then euphemistically referred to as the "ATO" (Anti-Terrorist Operation). How these substantial artifacts were transported to the aggressor country's territory remains a question. The method by which the massive stone blocks were removed from the purpose-built monument in Pidhaytsi, situated right in the city center, remains a mystery; conducting such extensive work covertly is practically impossible.
It is quite likely that the same individuals were involved in the plundering of the synagogues in Chortkiv and Pidhaytsi.
While a criminal investigation has been initiated concerning the theft in Chortkiv, it is unknown whether such an investigation has been launched regarding the theft of the carved ornamentation from the national architectural monument in Pidhaytsi.
Roman Malenkov, the head of the NGO "Ukraine Incognita," noted that the organization will definitely approach law enforcement agencies, the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the theft of relics from the national architectural monument and their transportation to Russian territory. There will also be an appeal to the Embassy of Israel since this involves the desecration and plundering of objects of Jewish cultural, historical, and spiritual heritage.