Ukrainian Jews lose bid to regain Balta synagogue


(JTA) – The Jewish community of Balta in Ukraine lost its bid to gain possession of a former synagogue that it helped to 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 appeals court found it irrelevant that the Jewish community of Balta had paid 2,500 rubles in 1903 for the construction of the building.

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 the assistance of Romanian soldiers.

Recommended from JTA