Ukraine synagogue where Menachem Begin was married gets first Torah since WWII
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Ukraine synagogue where Menachem Begin was married gets first Torah since WWII

Choral Synagogue in the western city of Drohobych, once one of the region’s most impressive, was turned into a furniture warehouse under communists before being restored in 2013

Yaakov Dov Bleich carrying a Torah scroll into the synagogue of Drohobycz, Ukraine on July 3, 2019. (Rephael Isaak Vilenskiy via JTA)
Yaakov Dov Bleich carrying a Torah scroll into the synagogue of Drohobycz, Ukraine on July 3, 2019. (Rephael Isaak Vilenskiy via JTA)

The Ukraine synagogue where the late Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin was married received its first Torah scroll since World War II.

Leaders of Ukrainian Jewry gathered Wednesday at the Choral Synagogue in the western city of Drohobych to celebrate the introduction of the scroll in a ceremony featuring songs, dances and speeches.

Completed in 1865, the synagogue inspired by the Rundbogenstil school was among the region’s most impressive. It became abandoned in the Holocaust, when most of the region’s Jews were murdered by the Nazis. It was a furniture warehouse during communist times.

In 2013, philanthropist Viktor Vekselberg funded a $1 million restoration of the synagogue. The project — led by Vekselberg’s father, Felix, who was born in that city — was completed last year. Viktor Vekselberg, who was born in Drohobych as well, also donated the scroll.

Begin, and his wife, Aliza, were married at the synagogue in 1936. Among the guests was Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the leader of Revisionist Zionists and mentor to Begin, who would go on to become Israel’s sixth prime minister.

Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, left, and his wife, Aliza, arrive at New York City’s Kennedy airport, Friday, March 23, 1979 in a brief statement at the airport. Begin said “we have some problems, but I have come to sign the peace treaty.” He is scheduled to leave New York Sunday to go to Washington to sign the peace treaty on the following day. (AP Photo/Ron Frehm)

The synagogue is depicted in the famous painting by Maurycy Gottlieb, “Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur,” which is now at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Gottlieb was born in 1856 in Drohobych, then part of the Austrian Empire.

It later became part of Poland, was occupied by the Germans, incorporated into the Soviet Union before becoming part of Ukraine.

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