After three years of fund-raising and planning, work has begun to develop the ruins of a synagogue in Bobruisk, Belarus as an open-air Jewish cultural heritage site and museum.
The two-storied remains of the old synagogue will be preserved and renovated, with stained-glass windows and painting filling the window apertures. Next to it will be an open space dedicated to interactive events, expositions, and activities. The community hopes that in the following years an open-air museum dedicated to the rich history of Jews in Bobruisk will also become a part of the installation.
It quoted Babruisk Chief Rabbi and Chabad emissary Shaul Hababo as saying, “Belarus is a country with a unique Jewish past, and yet there aren’t many places that carry this heritage to the wider public, and we would like our Bobruisk ‘Jewish court’ to fill in this void."
Concept drawings posted on the Federation web site show that the surviving walls would be restored to serve as an anchor enclosing part of the new exhibition and event space, which also would include several pavilions.
According to the Jewish Heritage Research Group in Belarus, the synagogue was built at the beginning of the 20th century. The Center says it was closed by the Soviet regime in 1932 and was used as a mill. It was left a ruin, with only parts of the walls standing, after a fire in 1969.
As we reported at the time, the ruins were transferred to the community by the regional government in 2015.
The Center for Jewish Art -- which has posted a series of pictures of the ruins, located at 31 Chongarskaya St. -- carried out a full documentation of the building in the early 2000s, which provides a slightly different history. The full documentation can be read HERE.