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The Main Synagogue in Slonim

The Main Synagogue in Slonim


Churches, katolik churches, сathedral, monasteries

The main synagogue can be found in the historic center of Slonim – a pearl of the Jewish culture. The construction of the Jewish house of prayer began in 1642, the synagogue opened in 1648. The synagogue, like most buildings in Slonim, is a defensive construction. The building has thick walls without distinctive decorative elements. It belongs to the Baroque style. The exterior of the synagogue is simple, unremarkable but one may find murals with Jewish symbols inside this ancient building. A crown is depicted on one of the walls. There is also a bas-relief with a book and two lions on either side. It is possible that this book is the Talmud, Jewish religious set of laws, and the lions represent the Jewish people that protect their shrine. There are murals of musical instruments – two crossed guitars, cello, harp. Also, the wall is decorated with frescoes. The synagogue in Slonim is one of the four Belarusian houses of worship with preserved bimah – multi-tiered tower; the Torah was read on the top. During World War II, the synagogue was closed and later became a storage place. For many years, the Jewish worship house is in bad condition. However, it was returned to the Jewish people in 2001. Only 0.03% of the Jews lived in Slonim in 2009.

The history of the Jewish population in Slonim, as well as throughout Belarus, is quite tragic. Jews came to the country in the XIV century. In the XIX century, more than 11,000 of 16,000 inhabitants were Jews, i. e. they composed the major part of the population of Slonim. The Jewish people are industrious and persistent. They developed trade in Slonim, opened cafes, stores, breweries. After the formation of Kagan, heders, yeshivas, numerous synagogues appeared in the town. Slonim, like many other towns in Belarus, was a multi-religious town; representatives of different religions coexisted in peace. So, there are Orthodox churches, Catholic churches, and mosque in Slonim. In peacetime, the town had more than seven synagogues, two of which have preserved till nowadays. During the war, more than 9000 Jews in Slonim were victims of the Holocaust – the mass extermination conducted by the Nazis. A memorial appeared on the site of the old Jewish cemetery in memory of those terrible events in Slonim.

What interesting sights can you see in Slonim? For example, the white catholic church of St. Andrew built in 1775. It is recommended to see Transfiguration Cathedral, Trinity Church, the architectural complex of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which includes the Catholic Church and Bernardine monastery for women. Also, it is recommended to visit the estate of the Puslovsky family called “Albertine”. The Puslovsky family is associated with many mysteries and legends that you may hear within thematic tours. For example, “Ancient town and young town”, “The beautiful Belarusian land” or “The holy places of Belarus”.

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