A synagogue built in 2021 in Babyn Yar, a ravine in Ukraine where German occupiers shot more than 33,000 Jewish Ukrainians in 1941. (Photo courtesy of Koffler Centre of the Arts)

Topics: Ethical Living | History

Babyn Yar exhibition explores the birth of a synagogue at the site of a massacre

The story of the horror and the structure that commemorates it are now being told at the Koffler Centre of the Arts in Toronto


In late September 1941, German occupiers shot more than 33,000 Jewish Ukrainians in Babyn Yar, a ravine outside Kyiv. The two-day massacre was one of the largest of the Holocaust. Eighty years later, in 2021, a synagogue opened in Babyn Yar to commemorate the atrocity and to bring new hope to a place that is full of grief. Stars bloom on the sanctuary’s painted wooden ceiling, recreating the night sky of Sept. 29, 1941.

Photo courtesy Koffler Centre of the Arts

The story of the massacre and the synagogue are told in a new exhibition now on display at the Koffler Centre of the Arts in Toronto. The Synagogue at Babyn Yar: Turning the Nightmare of Evil into a Shared Dream of Good also speaks to the current Russian war against Ukraine.

Photo courtesy Koffler Centre of the Arts

At the heart of the exhibition are large-scale panoramic photographs, a collaboration between the Ukrainian Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky, who is renowned for his industrial landscapes, and the award-winning Ukrainian photographer Maxim Dondyuk. Another section chronicles the creation of the synagogue through architectural images, a documentary film and a projection of the vibrantly painted ceiling. Thoughtfully curated, the exhibition allows visitors to take their own journey through the story of Babyn Yar. It runs until the end of Holocaust Education Week on Nov. 12.


Meredith Poirier is an intern at Broadview

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