Impressions of October 2020

 The English text on the information board

Žemaičių Naumiestis Synagogue

The Jewish community started to settle in Žemaičių Naumiestis in the 17th century. The brick synagogue with an impressive volume in the centre of town was built in 1816. The sacral building, which had the features of classicist architecture and a large attic roof, was badly damaged by the fire of 1914, which affected mot part of Žemaičių Naumiestis. Although several projects of synagogue reconstruction have been prepared, due to lack of funds, reconstruction works have not begun. The building remained unused until Rabbi Yaakov Moshe Lesin took active care of the restoration of the synagogue. Thanks to this Rabbi, funds were raised to repair the building. Even £ 1.000 was donated by Jews who previously lived in the town: Sammy Marks and brothers Louis and Max Rothschild, who both lived in South Africa at the time. When the required amount of money was raised, a synagogue reconstruction project was commissioned and completed in 1930. The author of this project idea was a engineer V. Rimgas from Tauragé region. The engineer-developed synagogue restoration project included the walls that remained after the fire and the tripartite division of the side facades. However, the original roof shape was removed, and the expressive pediment was gone. The residents of Žemaičių Naumiestis also contributed to the renovation of the synagogue building. Local woodworker Ansas Srügis restored the windows, doors, furniture and wooden decorations of the synagogue.

During the Soviet era, the synagogue building served as a school gym. In 1962 the gym was reorganized into a cultural house, then the synagogue window openings were increased double. On the west side of the building an extension of the silicate bricks was built, which is uncharacteristic for the Jewish sacred building. Authentic interior details of the synagogue were broken or completely destroyed.

In 2014, by the order of the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, the building of Žemaičių Naumiestis Synagogue was declared state protected cultural heritage object and assigned a unique code in the Register of Cultural Heritage – 34615. With the funds of Šilutė District Municipality, in 2019 the initial repairing works of the Žemaičių Naumiestis Synagogue were carried out.

Information sources:

Exhibition of Šilutė Sheu Museum in Žemaičių Naumiestis: http://www.silutesmuziejus.lt/
Register of Cultural Heritage: http://kvr.kpd.lt/heritage/
Topografic Maps of Eastern Europe: http://easteurotopo.org/

Extern Weblink:

Jewish Heritage Europe March 15 2019

View from street (back in the left starts the market place)
View from South, where the mikve had been, left the wooden winter synagogue

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