The Synagogue in Shklov

Today the population of the district center of Mogilev region Shklov is about 16 thousand people. Just 200-300 years ago, that town was a large center where craftsmen and merchants came to hold the world-famous fairs; the large troops passed through it greatly destroying. In 1780, Catherine the Great watched the performance in Shklov theatre passing on her way to Mogilev for meeting with the king of Austria. Finally, the current President of Belarus – Alexander Lukashenko was born in Shklov. Every inhabitant of the district center can show you the house of the head of state.

In the 40s of the last century, the town had a rather large Jewish community, numbering over two thousand people. Jews numbered 26, 7 % of the total population. All people who did not have time to leave the town before the war in 1941, were herded by the German soldiers to the ghetto established there. After that almost no Jews have survived.

However, before the Great Patriotic War, Jews of Shklov lived happily and honored their traditions. There were about ten thousand Jews in the town in the middle of the XIX century. Of course, believers needed a place for praying. Therefore, the large community had a synagogue.

The building of the synagogue is a monument of architecture of the XVIII century

The exact year of construction of the Jewish temple is unknown: different sources name different dates. The only thing we can say is the century. The synagogue appeared in the town in the XVIII century. It was a large stone building. There were 4 wooden synagogues along with it. After the October Revolution, the Jewish population of the town decreased significantly. The authorities closed the synagogue and established a school there. At the time, Jewish educational institutions were closed, so the representatives of the community opened non-religious schools in Shklov where children were taught in Yiddish. But the authorities were also opposed to that format and banned them in 1934.

There are many Jewish buildings in the town

These are ordinary dwelling buildings, a Yeshiva, a Rabbi's house, and the oldest synagogue. By the way, in the local Yeshiva there were held well-known discussion, and then the rabbis of Shklov accepted Herem (the rejection of Hasidism in Judaism, deviating from traditional Rabbinism). They were the first who openly protested against that trend in tsarist Russia.

The Jewish cemetery of Shklov town is located in the local “purgatory”. But it is nearly impossible to find old tombstones here because the German tanks have entered the town from this side passing on graves of the deceased. According to some sources, during the Great Patriotic War, the cemetery hills saw the death of over 6 thousand Jews.

Now the Department of Education, Sport and Tourism of the Executive Committee of Shklov district is on the second floor of the synagogue of Shklov that has perfectly survived up to now. The first floor is empty.

There is no one able to restore the activity of the synagogue, and, in general, Jewish traditions in Shklov. According to local residents, there are no more than 20 Jews in the town, and these are the elderly. The youth goes to the regional center or capital. But the building of the former synagogue in the town still attracts lovers of ancient architecture or those who are interested in Jewish traditions, culture and history.