In 2006 I was for the first time in Chernivtsi, former Czernowitz. Looking for the traces of Jewish life I tried to locate former synagogues. One of them is the Korn Shil – 2006 still abused for an electric transformer of the power company. Today the Korn Shil is a synagogue again.
It is the merit of Rabbi Glitsenstein that the former Korn Shil today is a place of worship again. Until then it was a long way. Glitsenstein was sent by Chabad Lubavich to Chernivtsi, in order to build a Hasidic community. He managed to get the Korn Shil for his community from the city administration, and collected donations for the restoration of the building.
The roof of the building had to be removed to take out the transformer. Now the poor condition of the building became obvious. Parts of the facade had to be demolished and re-built. The renovation lasted from 2008 to 2011, longer then was expected when the construction works started. But it was not just a renovation. In the backyard a community center was built. Glitsenstein has plans for a kosher restaurant and a soup kitchen.
Of course there are aspects that can be criticaly commented. Not all construction works have been carried out with sensitivity towards the historic substance of the building and the activity of the new community is partly at the expense of the old orthodox community. There they have now often difficulties to gather the necessary ten adult men, without whom a Jewish service can not take place. And of course I know that the restoration of the Korn Shil, is part of the missionary activity of Chabad.
My experience is: The Korn Shil is close to the city center and enables especially old people to participate in the service. Above all, it is a very open minded place. Anyone can go in and is warmly welcomed. When I was last time there in October 2012, a group of young Ukrainians visited the place to learn about the Jewish community life.
The former Korn Shil is now called “Main Synagogue of Bukovina”. It is no longer what it once was and will never be again. But it is a visible sign of the return of Jewish life in Chernivtsi. It doesn’t isolate the community, but rather opens it. Rabbi Glitsenstein did a very good job.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.