How Beautiful Are Your Dwelling Places, Jacob
An Atlas of Jewish Space and a Synagogue for Babyn Yar
Transforming a site of perdition into a place of benediction: the new synagogue at Babyn Yar in Kiev
1st edition, 2021
Text in English
2 volumes in slipcase, paperback
Total 504 pages, 183 color and and 95 b/w drawings and watercolors, photographs, and plans
16.5 x 22.5 cm
In collaboration with the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, Kiev
On September 29 and 30, 1941, more than 33,000 Jewish men, women, and children were murdered in Babyn Yar, a ravine in the Ukrainian capital Kiev. This event constituted the largest single massacre perpetrated by German troops against Jews during World War II. In commemoration, and as an affirmation of a Jewish future, a synagogue designed in the shape of an oversized Jewish prayer book was inaugurated on the same site in May 2021. When opened, the book building’s inner space and its furnishings unfold. This impressive movable structure was conceived by architect Manuel Herz and is decorated with murals by Ukrainian artist Galina Andrusenko.
The Babyn Yar synagogue’s design is rooted in a meditation on Judaism’s 3000-year old history. The leitmotif of this consideration, undertaken by historian Robert Jan van Pelt and artist Mark Podwal, is the concept of Jewish Space understood in its territorial, architectural, psychological, theological, intellectual dimensions. It traverses a historical landscape that includes great heights of spiritual aspiration and profound depths of despair, caused by antisemitism and the persecution, massacres, and genocide that resulted from it.
The first volume of this lavishly illustrated and thought-provoking book, An Atlas of Jewish Space, offers 134 brief and engaging texts by Robert Jan van Pelt, each of which is illuminated with a drawing by Mark Podwal. The second volume, A Synagogue for Babyn Yar, documents the new building through photographs by celebrated architectural photographer Iwan Baan, as well as through plans and model photos. The images are supplemented with texts by Manuel Herz, Galina Andrusenko, Jean-Louis Cohen, and Marina Otero Verzier and Nick Axel.
Robert Jan van Pelt was educated as a historian of ideas, and is renowned internationally for his research on the Holocaust, Auschwitz, and for his role in the struggle against Holocaust denial. He is professor of architecture at the University of Waterloo, Canada, and the author of numerous books.
Mark Podwal is a New York-based artist and the illustrator of many of Elie Wiesel's books. He has also published several books of his own, and his work is represented in important public collections, such as New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Manuel Herz runs his own design and urban planning studio in Basel and Cologne and has gained renown for his design of the New Synagogue in Mainz. He teaches as an assistant professor at University of Basel and is the editor of the widely acclaimed book African Modernism (Park Books, 2014).