Ukrainian Jews Lose Bid to Regain 100-year-old Balta Synagogue

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The Jewish community of Balta in Ukraine has lost its bid to gain possession of a former synagogue which it helped build.

The 100-year-old Savranskaya synagogue, which is now an abandoned building owned by the Ukrtelecom communications firm, will remain the firm’s property, the Odessa Administrative Court of Appeals ruled earlier this month.

The ruling reverses the 2011 ruling by the Balta District Court, which found that the Jewish community had claim to the building, according to a report published last week in the Russian news site Dumskaya.

The Jewish community of Balta paid 2,500 rubles in 1903 for the construction of the building, but the appeals court found this irrelevant.

The building stopped being used as a synagogue during the Holocaust years and the Soviet government turned it into an apartment block until 1964, when the national telephone company started using it.

The company kept the building after its privatization and has owned it since 2003.

When the synagogue was built, Balta had 13,200 Jewish residents — more than half its total population, according to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. But because of Soviet persecution, only 4,700 remained by 1941 when German troops seized the area and began perpetrating mass executions of Jews with help from Romanian soldiers.

Customers pass a Ukrtelecom network store in Kiev, Ukraine, on March 14, 2011.Credit: Bloomberg

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