Heritage & Heritage Sites

 

GENERAL

 

Eleven Jewish cemeteries in eight localities are known to exist in Estonia:  Narva; Pärnu; Rakvere; Tallinn (Magasini Jewish cemetery, and Rahumäe Jewish cemetery); Tartu (Old Jewish cemetery, New Jewish cemetery, Roosi Street cemetery); Valga; Viljandi and Võru

In addition, there are World War II mass killing and burial sites at: Ereda; Harku; Kalevi-Liiva; Kiviõli; Klooga; Kuressaare; Metsakalmistu; Narva; Pärnu; Põltsamaa; Rakvere; Tallinn; Tartu; Vaivara and Valga

 

Download PDF of Lo-Tishkach Preliminary Report on Legislation and Practice Affecting Jewish Burial Grounds in Estonia (2009)

 

Estonian Jewish Archives pages on  Cemeteries

Photo galleries of all Jewish cemeteries in Estonia, and some cemeteries elsewhere

 

Estonia’s synagogues were destroyed during World War II (though in 2010 a simple building used as a pre-World War II synagogue in Parnu still stood, in ruinous condition); during the Soviet period services were held in small prayer rooms allocated by the government.

 

Photo galleries of Estonian synagogues (Estonian Jewish Museum web site)

 

Article by Leo Gens on the architecture of synagogues in Estonia

 

INDIVIDUAL SITES

 

TALLINN

 

Synagogue

The Beit Bella synagogue, Tallinn’s first new synagogue to be built since the 19th century, was dedicated in 2007. Designed by KOKO Architects (Lembit-Kaur Stöör, Tõnis Kimmel, Andrus Kõresaar), it has an unusual design featuring an enormous, semi-circular barrel-vault roof, supported by thin concrete columns; the walls are almost entirely made of glass. The wave-like form of the eaves alludes to the dramatic swings of fortune that have characterized Jewish life in Estonia. The interior is enriched with wooden screens pierced with images of the Tree of Life. The building, which was financed by donations from Alexander Bronstein and the US-based George Rohr family foundation, also houses a mikveh and the country’s only kosher restaurant.

Photographic Documentation of the Synagogue, by Jono David

Article by Gennadi Gramberg Detailing the History and Construction of the Synagogue

Article by Gennadi Gramberg Detailing the Architecture of the Synagogue

 

There is a small synagogue in a simple, domestic-scale wooden building, a former warehouse, at 9 Magdalena Street, on the edge of Tallinn. This was the only Jewish prayer house in use in Tallinn from 1966 to 2000. (It replaced a prayer room located in a building that was razed in 1966).

Photographic Documentation of the Synagogue, by Jono David


Rahumäe Jewish cemetery

6 Rahumäe Road
Tallinn 11316
Tel: +372 6554 8966
Email: rahumae@kalmistud.ee

 

The Jewish section of this municipal cemetery was established in 1909, after the closure of the Old Jewish Cemetery. It is well-maintained and is still in use; it is listed as a national cultural monument. There are many interesting gravestones and an attractive modest-sized ceremonial hall on the site. This structure is built of wood on a stone foundation, and its large arched windows include in their tracery a Star-of-David motif. There are two memorials: one to Jews who perished in the Holocaust and another to Jews who were deported, killed or died in exile during the Stalin era.

Photographic Documentation of the Cemetery, by Jono David

There is a monument on the site of the Old Jewish cemetery, which functioned from the 19th  (or maybe the 18th) century until the New cemetery at Rahumäe was opened in 1909. The Estonian inscription on the marble slab reads (in translation) “here was the Jewish cemetery from the eighteenth century until the end of the 1960s.”

 

NARVA

There is a Jewish cemetery that was in use from the mid to late-mid 19th century until 1919. In 2010 it was a extremely overgrown, neglected condition, with only a few visible stones.

Photographic documentation of the Jewish Cemetery, from the Estonian Jewish Museum web site.

 

PARNU

Jewish cemetery dating from the 1850s; still in use.

Photographic documentation of the Jewish Cemetery, from the Estonian Jewish Museum web site.

 

RAKVERE

A Jewish Cemetery (at Lilleoru tn. 24) was established in the early 1870s as part of the Paulus cemetery. It is the only Jewish cemetery other than the Rahumäe Jewish cemetery in Tallinn to be listed as a monument of cultural heritage.

Photographic Documentation of the Jewish Cemetery, by Jono David

Photographic Documentation of the Jewish Cemetery, on the Estonian Jewish Museum site

 

TARTU

 

The Great Synagogue in Tartu was destroyed during World War II.

Article about the Synagogue by  Haim F. Ghiuzeli on Bet Hatfustot web site

Jewish Cemeteries

Tartu’s Old Jewish Cemetery was founded in 1859 and closed in 1895. Nothing has been done to preserve the site. Only a few gravestones remain. In 1895, the city government allocated a free plot for the Jewish cemetery on Roosi Street (today, 46 Roosi Street). The last burials took place after World War II. Many of the stones are of great artistic value, and there is a large arched brick structure on the site.

The New Jewish Cemetery was opened in 1935 at Luunia on the main road to Räpina,. Most of the burials took place after the  World War II. A white entrance building stands near the gate, marked by a Star of David, and with a caretaker’s apartment, a storeroom, and a space for ceremonies. The local Jewish community takes care of the site, which includes a war memorial and a Holocaust memorial, the latter erected in 2001.

Photographic documentation of the Old Jewish Cemetery, on the Estonian Jewish Museum web site

Photographic documentation of the Roosi Street Cemetery, on the Estonian Jewish Museum web site

Photographic documentation of the Rapina tee Jewish Cemetery, on the Estonian Jewish Museum web site

 

VORU

Jewish Cemetery, believed established in the 1860s

Photographic documentation of the Jewish Cemetery, from the Estonian Jewish Museum web site