THE POSTHUMOUS LANDSCAPE III: More Jewish Historical Sites in Western Ukraine
September and October, 2023, Reuben & Helene Dennis Museum, Beth Tzedec Congregation, 1700 Bathurst Street, Toronto (entry at rear from the parking lot). Museum curator: Dorion Liebgott.
Open to the public during synagogue hours, Sunday to Thursday, from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m., Friday until 4 p.m. Open Friday evenings, Saturday, and on Jewish holidays to synagogue attendees.
This is the third in a series of exhibitions at the Beth Tzedec drawn from my work in Poland and Ukraine, depicting the remnants of Jewish life that remained there seventy-five years after the Holocaust. The exhibition features seventeen newly-printed, previously unexhibited images, from a trip to western Ukraine in June, 2016.
Most of the territory of western Ukraine formed part of the historic province of Galicia, which was returned to Poland after the First World War. The remainder of what is today western Ukraine was in the district of Bukovina, which became part of Romania. The largest city of Galicia was Lviv, one of the five major cities of Jewish settlement in historic Poland and which had a Jewish population of well over a hundred thousand before the Second World War. Chernivtsi was the capital of Bukovina and in 1939 had a Jewish population of fifty thousand.
I explored these two cities and surrounding smaller cities and towns during an intense three week trip. The Jewish population of western Ukraine today is less than five thousand, and it is a struggle to preserve the many artifacts of Jewish life from before the Holocaust, including numerous crumbling synagogues and cemeteries in urgent need of restoration. In the major cities of the area, there are numerous examples of architecture owned and/or built by Jews that remain intact and in use. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine underlines the difficulty and urgency of preserving Jewish material culture in areas where the community is small and without resources.