Hryhoriy Arshynov, restorer of Jewish cemeteries across Ukraine

Hryhoriy Arshynov died of COVID-19 on Nov. 1, 2020.

(JTA) — Five years ago, a plea to rescue a centuries-old synagogue in Ostroh, Ukraine, struck a chord with Hryhoriy Arshynov, a lifelong Jewish resident of the city four hours west of Kyiv. 

Damaged during the Holocaust, the magnificent 17th-century Maharsha synagogue was used as a warehouse under Soviet rule and endured decades of neglect. With its collapsed roof, it was on the verge of ruin.

After reading an article about the synagogue, Arshynov, a civil engineer, stepped up to restore it. Arshynov had devoted years of his life to preserving Jewish cemeteries in Ukraine and he envisioned the restored prayer hall as a space for Jewish life, with exhibits that showcased Ostroh’s significant place in Ukrainian and Jewish history. Drawing in part on his own life’s savings, Arshynov had brought the project nearly to completion this fall.

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