The Drohobych Choral Synagogue, which has been revived through the efforts of Russian businessman Victor Vekselberg.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The massive Choral Synagogue in the Ukrainian town of Drohobych, the place where Menachem Begin was married, recently underwent a series of renovations and has been opened to visits by the public.
The man behind the renovations is Victor Vekselberg, a Russian businessman originally from Drohobych.
Vekselberg is the owner and chairman of Renova Group, a large Russian holding company. Forbes magazine has estimated his net worth at $13.5 billion. Vekselberg has also renovated his family’s old home and erected a memorial in the nearby Bronica Forest.
Begin, a resident of Drohobych, married Aliza Arnold in the synagogue shortly before the Second World War in 1939. Ze’ev Jabotinsky, head of the Revisionist Movement, attended the wedding.
This synagogue is associated with a well-known painting of Mauritius Gotlib, another former resident of Drohobych. The painting, Jews Pray in the Synagogue in Yom Kippur, is one of the greatest relics of Jewish art, depicting prayer on the Day of Judgment. The painting of Mauritius Gotlib is kept in the National Museum in Tel Aviv.
Construction of the synagogue lasted from 1842 to 1865. At that time it was the largest synagogue in Europe. The synagogue is situated at the beginning of Pylyp Orlyk Street in the central part of Drohobych. This is a former Jewish area called Lan. The name is associated with the fact that in the 1630s the mayor of Drohobych, Ivan Danilovich, allocated Jews one royal lan, a plot of land with the area of 15-17 hectares, approximately 37-42 acres. Subsequently, an area inhabited by Jews received the name Lan.
According to various sources, from 1942-1943, Nazis killed between 11,000 and 14,000 Drohobych Jews. Hundreds of families disappeared in the Bronica Forest nearby, where the Nazis committed their crimes. The Jewish community of the town currently numbers 150 people.
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