August 10, 2017

ESJF continues historic renovation of Chernivtsi (Czernowitz) Jewish Cemetery burial house

With work now well underway on the restoration of the pre-burial house at the Chernivtsi (Chernowitz) Jewish cemetery in SW Ukraine, ESJF Chief Engineer Hryhoriy Arshynov carried out our first full technical inspection of the site yesterday. The cemetery and pre-burial house were constructed in 1905 with funds provided by the local Jewish community.

The architectural project for the pre-burial house (Bet Tahara) was carried out by Josef Funkel and marked the first use of pre-cast concrete domes in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

A dossier from the Chernivtsi oblast State Archive, however, recounts that the city’s architect did not share Funkel’s confidence and initially forbade the use of the pre-burial house due to concerns about the safety of the dome. However, Funkel has since been proven right. 112 years on, our inspection determined that, despite years of neglect, the dome remains strong and is ready to undergo restoration.

Our principal concerns will not only be construction quality, but the retention of the pre-burial house’s authentic décor, so the site can then be used by the Chernivtsi Museum for the History and Culture of Bukovinian Jews. Funding for this special restoration project was provided by the Foreign Ministry of the Federal Republic of Germany.

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