Jewish Galicia and Bukovina (JGB) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the documentation, preservation and educational dissemination of the history and rich cultural heritage of the Jewish communities of Galicia and Bukovina. These areas are located in modern-day Ukraine (eastern Galicia - Lviv/Lwow region and northern Bukovina - Cernivtzy/Czernovits region), Poland (western Galicia - Krakow region) and Romania (southern Bukovina up to Suceava and Siret).
Galicia and Bukovina were major Jewish centers as far back as the 13th Century and were home to over one million Jews, with unique cultural characteristics and a vibrant intellectual and spiritual life. These regions produced prominent Jewish thinkers, rabbis and Hassidic courts, who created influential texts and institutions that have had a long-lasting impact on the Jewish world. The Torah scholars and Jewish intellectuals of Galicia and Bukovina were known for their tolerance and openness towards modernity, while being firmly rooted in Jewish tradition and learning. This thriving Jewish world was wiped out in the Holocaust. The outstanding cultural accomplishments of these regions are not widely known in the Jewish world. They have been insufficiently documented and inadequately researched by academic scholars.
Jewish Galicia and Bukovina aims in its work to document and disseminate the main aspects of Jewish life in these regions, both physically and academically. To this end, we are engaged in four major areas of activity:
• Developing an online free of charge database on the Jewish history of Galicia and Bukovina.
• Annual fieldwork teams documenting the physical remnants of Jewish life.
• Preserving the cultural and rabbinic heritage of these Jewish communities.
• Extending fellowships to Israeli and Ukrainian students who are researching relevant topics for advanced degrees.
The forerunner of Jewish Galicia and Bukovina, known as The Institute for Commemoration of Galician Jewry, was founded in 1987 by Rabbi Meir Wunder, who dedicated several decades to compiling the seven-volume Encyclopedia of Galician Sages. This opus presents detailed genealogies of Galician rabbinical families, and is one of the most extensive and reliable sources of rabbinical genealogy written in the twentieth century. The Institute also published several other books, including biographies of Hassidic spiritual leaders (Rebbes) and Grandeur and Glory: Hod Vehadar - Remnants of Jewish Art in Galicia (Wunder et al., 2005).
In 2008, the Ludmer Fund was launched, which began to work with Hebrew University of Jerusalem and several other universities in Israel and abroad with the goal of reviving the unique heritage of Jewish Galicia and Bukovina as vital to the broader understanding of Jewish history in modern times, and bringing to life the memory of those Jewish communities that have perished. In 2011, the Ludmer Fund and the Institute for Commemoration of Galician Jewry joined forces, and became the “Jewish Galicia and Bukovina” association.
At first we focused our research on archival documents and personal testimonies describing the life of the Jews in Galicia. We also began to document the physical remains of the communities – communal buildings, Jewish cemeteries, synagogues, and other structures. So far we have sent four teams of researchers and students from Israel and abroad to examine and document physical sites in numerous cities in Galicia and Bukovina which once had big Jewish communities (See more here…). This website was established as part of our aim to set up a comprehensive database of primary materials pertaining to the Jewish communities of Galicia and Bukovina. While the database will meet exacting academic standards, it will also provide the general public with online access to a wide array of cultural and historical materials in a comprehensible format.
For a number of reasons Galicia and Bukovina Jewry have been researched less in comparison to other areas in Eastern-Europe. Due to this, our association offers fellowships to doctoral and post-doctoral students from both Israel and Ukraine for research projects connected to Jewish history in this region. The fellowships awarded Ukrainian scholars also support their stay in Israel for one year to advance their research. (See more here…). We see great importance on awarding these fellowships and seek to establish a leading role for Israeli academia in studying these communities.
We are committed to seeing that the rich Jewish culture that once flourished in the region will be remembered and passed on to future generations in Israel and throughout the world.
Finally, Jewish Galicia and Bukovina, through its research and dissemination efforts, is preserving the spiritual heritage of Galician and Bukovinian Jewry for posterity and in doing so is engaging hundreds of the descendents of former residents of Galicia and Bukovina in a search for their cultural and historical roots.
If you have historical materials of any kind about the Jews of Galicia and Bukovina and would be willing to share them with us please contact us.
We invite you to register to get our newsletter and become a friend of Galicia and Bukovina.
Your contribution will be highly appreciated and will help us expand our fields of activity and advance the research on the Jews of Galicia and Bukovina.