The synagogue, built over a hundred years ago, is being restored by the Jewish community of the city of Balta in the north of the Odessa region.
As one of the restoration enthusiasts, director of the Odessa Holocaust Museum, Pavel Kozlenko, said, the building was laid in the middle of the 19th century by Savran Hasidim – supporters of one of the directions of Judaism. Finally, it was completed at the expense of the “box collection” – the community’s funds for their own needs.
A hundred years ago, Balta was a large industrial and cultural center – suffice it to recall that the second railway of the Russian Empire connected Odessa with this city. Balta was also an important spiritual center of Jewish communities living on a vast territory from Rybnitsa to Krivoe Lake.
The Hasidim, supporters of the Savran rebbe Moshe Zvi Giterman, who in 1863 built a prayer school in Balta, and in 1903 rebuilt it into a synagogue, had a significant influence on the Jewish life in the region.
The further fate of the building, unfortunately, is typical of many religious buildings. During the Second World War, the Jewish community in the north of the Odessa region was practically destroyed, and the building was no longer used as a cult building. Over the years, a military warehouse, a sewing shop, a communications center, and a telephone exchange were located here, for which another floor was completed.
After the restoration of independence, the building belonged to Ukrtelecom and fell into complete decay. In 2015, after a long legal battle, the Jewish community of Balta bought the former synagogue. Since then, renovations have been going on here. The Jewish community is going to implement this project in memory of the Holocaust victims and for the sake of preservation of the national heritage.
According to the idea of the head of the Jewish community of Balta Vadim Vinyarsky, a prayer room will be restored on the first floor of the old building, and a museum will be located on the second.
Pavel Kozlenko is convinced that the museum will become an essential scientific and historical center and landmark of Balta. There will be sections on the Jewish history of the region, on the Baltic ghetto, where the earthly journey of tens of thousands of Jews from Podillia and Bessarabia ended, on the Righteous, who, risking their lives, saved people from inevitable murder.
Vadim Vinyarsky hopes the museum will open in October 2022, and prayers in the restored synagogue will resume in 2023.