A news site in Belarus, planetbelarus.by, has published a photo essay of 10 surviving synagogue buildings around the country — check it out!
The synagogues in the photo essay include those in:
There is informative text with each photo — which is translated pretty well with google translate.
There are longstanding and ongoing efforts to restore some of the synagogues pictured — which we have written about.
In particular, there is a new campaign to restore the Great Synagogue in Slonim, which the World Monuments Fund had already targeted as a priority more than 20 years ago.
And a campaign is being developed to raise funding to restore the Great Synagogue in Ashmiany, a brick and wood structure whose architectural features, particularly the wooden roof and painted interior cupola, recall the elaborate wooden synagogues that were destroyed in World War II.
It was announced in 2013 that the 17th century fortress synagogue in Bykhov would be restored to become a Jewish museum, but this does not appear to have happened. Restoration efforts in Kobryn also appear to be stalled.
There are dozens of former synagogues in Belarus, almost all of them in ruins or used for other purposes.
Last year, in an article about the Ashmiany project, the same planetbelarus web site noted how difficult it was to gain interest in restoring synagogue — because Jewish heritage is not considered to be “Belarusian heritage.”
“The fact that synagogues in Belarus formally have the status of historical and cultural value protects them from destruction,” it quoted Stepan Stureiko, Chairman of the Board of the Belarusian Committee of ICOMOS, as saying. “But at the same time it sets very high requirements for restoration, which are impossible in small towns.”
And the point is not that there is no corresponding state program, he added; it is often perceived as a “foreign culture.”
For further information about synagogues and Jewish heritage in Belarus see: