Ivano-Frankivsk Tempel Synagogue:  30 Years After its Return to the Jewish Community, A Critical Need to Restore and Enhance

Ivano-Frankivsk Tempel Synagogue: 30 Years After its Return to the Jewish Community, A Critical Need to Restore and Enhance


The striking neo-Moorish style Tempel Synagogue is prominently located in Ivano-Frankivsk Ukraine’s historic city center and completes an ensemble of several houses of worship of different denominations which are situated around the town square. Designed by renowned Viennese architect Wilhelm Stiassny, the building was constructed during the Austro-Hungarian Empire period. The Jewish community of the city (formerly Stanislau, Stanisławów) began worshipping there after its completion in 1899.

The building was damaged during World War I and restored during 1927-29 when the city was part of Poland. During World War II and both the Nazi and Soviet occupations, the building was largely destroyed.  After World War II, Soviet authorities assumed control of the building and made alterations, both interior and exterior. Interior changes affected the layout of the Synagogue’s sanctuary as well as other rooms within the building. The most significant exterior alteration was the demolition of the four 10m tall Magen-David topped domes that were positioned on all corners of the building’s rooftop.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Jewish Community of Ivano-Frankivsk was commissioned, with the Tempel’s return to the Community being initiated by the City of Ivano-Frankivsk in May 1991, 30 years ago, and culminating with its official return by the newly independent Ukraine in July 1992.

Building Condition and Recent Repairs History

The building underwent some repairs in 2007-2008; in 2009, the Synagogue was surveyed as part of the Foundation for Jewish Heritage/Center for Jewish Art at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem large-scale project to map and catalogue Europe’s 3,300 Historic Synagogues. The project team deemed the Ivano-Frankivsk Tempel, a functioning Synagogue, to be of national significance with a Grade B (Fair) condition of building fabric.

Maintaining the building, however, has proved to be an ongoing struggle. In the summer of 2020, heavy rains in the region significantly damaged portions of the building’s exterior as well as some of the interior. Emergency repairs stabilized the building for the near term but served to highlight the need for a full restoration. Additionally, in its present condition, the building is extremely difficult and costly to heat, resulting in lowered participation in regular services and events during the colder months.


Present-Day Tempel and Ivano-Frankivsk Jewish Community

Before World War II there were 25,000 Jews in the City, representing one-third of the total population. Fifty-six synagogues served the Jewish community. Today there are about 300 Jews in Ivano-Frankivsk City with the Ivano-Frankivsk Tempel being the only remaining Synagogue. Approximately 750 Jews reside in the Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, a figure that is significantly larger than it has been in past years due to the increasing numbers of Oblast residents who have decided to no longer conceal their Jewish origins and are taking concrete steps to reclaim them.







The Synagogue has female and male halls, a mikvah, a dining room, guest rooms and a library, among other rooms. The community has an Israeli Cultural Center, clubs for women and youth, Council of Veterans, Magen Avot fund, Tiferez Zkeynim – Levi Yitzchak Kolel and Hohmat Noshim courses of Torah, history and traditions of the Jewish people. The Synagogue’s rabbi, Rabbi Moishe Kolesnik, holds shabbat evening and morning services every week as well as services and events for the major Jewish holidays.










Rabbi Kolesnik and His Collection

Rabbi Kolesnik has serving the Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast since 1989 and has, over the years, traveled to towns and villages throughout the region, meeting with local Jews in their homes, prayer houses and synagogues. Jews in the region have given him Hebrew books they had which often were handed down through several generations. Rabbi Kolesnik has, additionally, acquired various historical documents, maps and photographs of Jewish cultural and religious life from the region. Today his collection numbers in the thousands of unique books and other items central to the Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast’s Jewish history. Many of these archival items are currently housed at the Tempel.

Restoration Project

The year 2022 marks thirty years since the Synagogue was officially returned to the Ivano-Frankivsk Jewish Community, and, in partnership with a group of descendants of the Oblast and the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS (FJC-FSU) (Chabad Lubavitch), the Community has launched a project to restore the building and create the Ivano-Frankivsk Galician Jewish Heritage Center within the building. The restoration would structurally stabilize the building, restore it to a form resembling its original, create energy efficiency, and return the four prominent Magen-David topped domes to each corner of the building’s roof.

The vision for the Ivano-Frankivsk Galician Jewish Heritage Center is to provide

  • A Cultural Center, hosting events and facilitating dialogue across the Jewish, Ukrainian, Polish, and other specific cultures of the area;
  • An Historical Center, defining the experience of Jews in the region over time and through today;
  • An Educational Center, augmenting relevant curriculum taught in the area schools and serving as a place for school groups to visit with their teachers a cultural, historical, and educational center.







The Center will also serve as a permanent space for Rabbi Kolesnik’s archives that would be accessible to researchers and visitors. In addition to travelers from the current major feeder areas of Ukraine, the United States, Canada, and Israel, the Center will attract those from other areas as well.

Author: Darcy Stamler, Los Angeles, California, USA. Contact darcy.stamler@gmail.com for more information.

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