A hidden prayer room

In Lviv (Lwow, Lemberg) are the remains of the most famous and oldest synagogue in the territory of Ukraine, the “Golden Rose”. Of the approximately 70 synagogues in the city only two more have survived the German occupation, almost every guidebook mentions them. Virtually unknown, however, is a prayer room which is hidden in a basement.

Through my friend Renata Hanynets I became aware of an article by Tomasz Jankowski and Vladyslava Moskalets, in which they describe a “forgotten synagogue” in Lviv. With Renata’s help, I’ve been there today.

The prayer room – its wall paintings probably date from the interwar period –  is accessible from a backyard. Stairs lead down to the basement. No one would expect something special here. When Renata switsches on the light, I see two lions holding the tablets of the Law at the ceiling. A Ping pong table is here, spare parts and a bicycle are hanging on the wall. The backgrounds of this place historians have yet to explore. Thank you, Renata, for your help!

As I write this, I’m already back in Germany. From Lviv to Cologne you get faster, as from Chernivtsi (Czernowitz) to Lviv. But my soul is still traveling somewhere in Galicia and Bukovina with the marshrutka back and forth and tries to avoid potholes.

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9 thoughts on “A hidden prayer room

  1. Dear Christian, I marvel at the treasures gone to ground or derelict you discover. It is even for me, in the twilight of my life ,a reminder of a reality book with marvellous but true stories. It touches me deeply, the loss it saddens.
    I love your travelogue. Thank you.

  2. Dear Christian, it’s a very exciting discovery.
    However, upon my initial reading, I had an impression that this room was discovered in the basement of the destroyed synagogue. Apparently, it’s located in the different part of town, kilometers away from the site of the “Golden Rose” and the old Jewish Quarter.
    Can you please clarify where this was found?

    • The prayer room has nothing to do with the Golden Rose, I mentioned the Golden Rose only because many believe this is the only still existing synagogue in Lviv. The hidden prayer room is indeed in a different part of the city in the basement of an apartment building. Sorry, if my post gave reason for missunderstandings.

      • Yes, I understand. Of course, Golden Rose is the most famous, albeit destroyed in 1942, synagogue in Lvov. I believe only one (of many) of the synagogues in Lvov still survives, though there is a new place of worship not far from the train station. That surviving place is being used as Jewish Center, I think (it was closed the last time I tried to visit it 2 yrs ago).
        I think what confused me was the fact that the newly found place is mentioned in the same paragraph as the Golden Rose.

      • Yes, I have been to both places. The former Hasidic synagogue – used as a Jewish community center after the independence of Ukraine – is in very bad condition and closed the most time. A young man tries to rescue the building. Hopefuly the changes in Ukraine will be also to the benefit of this former synagogue. At least the changes already opened the way to have a commemoration site on the territory of the Golden Rose.

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