Golden Rose shul’s ruins in no peril, Lviv official says

The ruins of the historic Golden Rose synagogue are in no danger of demolition, a Lviv official told JTA, despite reports to the contrary.

Archeological excavations are being conducted in an adjoining site, Liliya Onyshchenko, the head of the Lviv City Council’s Historical Environment Conservation Administration, said in a statement released Thursday to JTA in response to an article this week in the Western press that appeared to state that the 16th century synagogue’s ruins had been bulldozed.

Plans to build a hotel in the old Jewish quarter of the Ukraine city have stirred controversy.

The synagogue was largely destroyed during World War II; what remains are its foundations and a wall bearing arches. Onyshchenko told JTA that two Soviet-era buildings near the synagogue ruins had been demolished in 2009.

“Additionally, this area is dedicated exclusively to archaeological research,” she said. “No construction took place here, and there was no construction machinery operating here. None of the work taking place in the area had any negative effect on the preserved fragments of the Golden Rose Synagogue.”

The report by Tom Gross published in the Guardian’s “comment is free” section on Sept. 2 was headlined “Goodbye Golden Rose.”

Gross wrote, “Last week I watched as bulldozers began to demolish the adjacent remnants of what was once one of Europe’s most beautiful synagogue complexes, the 16th-century Golden Rose in Lviv.”

JTA ran a Breaking News item this week based on the Gross report.

Eyewitnesses this week told JTA that no building work was being done on the site. In addition, JTA has learned that Jewish representatives and city officials will meet next month to discuss how and when to implement construction of a memorial to Lviv’s Jews on the so-called Synagogue Square, the site of another destroyed synagogue and a prayer house (bet midrash) directly in front of the Golden Rose ruins.

Last year, Lviv staged an international architectural competition for memorials to mark that site and two others of Jewish history in the city—the Janivski camp, where more than 100,000 Jews were killed, and the one section of the destroyed old Jewish cemetery that has not been built over.

The winners, including for the Synagogue Square, were announced in December.