THE POSTHUMOUS LANDSCAPE: Jewish Historical Sites in Western Ukraine
EXHIBITION HAS ENDED. April 24 – May 16, 2022. Adath Israel Congregation, 37 Southbourne Avenue, North York, Ontario.
Due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, these images of Jewish historical sites in the western part of the country have taken on added poignancy. Rabbi Adam Cutler, the recently appointed spiritual leader of the Adath Israel Congregation in Toronto, had been employed at the Beth Tzedec Congregation when these image were first shown there in 2017. It was under his initiative that this exhibition was remounted for almost a month at his new congregation around the Passover holiday in 2022.
In June 2016, for three weeks I explored the cities of Lviv and Chernivtsi and their surroundings, drawn to the area by its abundant Jewish material culture. Lviv, part of Poland before the war, and Chernivtsi, part of Romania, once had significant and large Jewish populations, as did the nearby towns. Today, western Ukraine’s much-reduced Jewish population of a few thousand faces an overwhelming task as it struggles to preserve community sites and historical artifacts, even with significant help from abroad.
Jewish heritage sites have enjoyed legal protection in Ukraine since the mid-nineties, but because of the history of destruction during both World War Two and the Soviet era, followed by two decades of neglect, many sites are in precarious condition. Though Jewish sites in western Ukraine do not appear to be in any danger because of the war with Russia, it is difficult to know how much damage has been incurred by sites in the rest of the country and what will become of those sites in the hoped-for aftermath of the conflict.