ABSTRACT

The look of many urban settlements in the central part of the historic region of Podolia (Fig. 1), which includes the western part of the Vinnitsa province of Ukraine, has preserved numerous features reminiscent of the patriarchal lifestyle of their once thriving Jewish communities. Thanks to the mercies of history, Jews in many shtetlekh of Eastern Podolia, which during World War II was occupied by Romanian rather than German troops, escaped total extermination. In Shargorod, Chernevtsi, Bershad, Tomashpol and some other Podolian towns and townlets, one can find elderly people still living in the houses built by their grandfathers or even great-grandfathers. It is still possible to hear living memories about shtetl life from the last representatives of that traditional culture and see the imprint left by its customs and festivals on architecture. Well-preserved Jewish houses, streets and quarters, as well as the synagogue buildings of historic Podolian towns, offer us one of the last remaining opportunities to study the phenomenon of the architecture of the shtetl in connection with the lifestyle of its inhabitants. 1