Before and After: 19th Century Ukrainian Synagogue, Once Eastern Europe's Largest, Gets Major Facelift

The Drohobych synagogue, immortalized by artist Maurycy Gottlieb, was where former Prime Minister Menachem Begin married his wife in 1939

Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet
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Drohobych synagogue after the renovation.
Drohobych synagogue after the renovation.Credit: Organization of Drohobycz, Boryslaw and the Vicinity Survivors and their Descendants
Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet

The Choral Synagogue in the Ukrainian town of Drohobych has been restored in a million-dollar project funded by Russian Jewish oligarch Victor Vekselberg, who was born in the town.

The restoration of the synagogue, which was once considered the largest in Eastern Europe, included its façade, support structure and interior. The house of worship was where Menachem Begin married his wife, Aliza, in 1939 before becoming Israel's sixth prime minister.

Drohobych synagogue before the renovation
after renovation

Although Drohobych was once a small town in the Austro-Hungarian region of Galicia, the 19th century house of worship was immortalized by artist Maurycy Gottlieb, a native of the town. "Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur" is currently part of the collection of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

Other famous Drohobych natives include writer Bruno Schulz; Ephraim  Lilien, one of the founders of the Bezalel School of Art in Jerusalem; and the first governor of the Bank of Israel, David Horowitz.