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The synagogue in Kobryn

Kobrin

Churches, katolik churches, сathedral, monasteries

The synagogue in Kobryn

Kobryn synagogue is the second biggest holy home for the Jews in Belarus that overcame horrible Holocaust time and disasters of the 20th century. Only the building of Minsk synagogue is bigger.

Jewish Kobryn community before 1941

The activity of the community was mentioned in the documents of the 16th century. In 1503 Alex Yagelon gave special privileges to the Jews that were signed up by King Sigismund the First later.

In 1589 the Jews got the equal rights for trade. According to the inspection of 1563 they owned 25 houses, 20 gardens and a synagogue.

The first synagogue mentioned in the documents doesn’t exist nowadays. But in the first part of the 20th century there were 7 synagogues in Kobryn.

Did the famous mathematician visit the synagogue?

The Jews contributed a lot to the cultural and economy life of the town. So by the end of the 19th century more than 25 thousands of the Jews lived in Kobryn.

There were several Jewish educational establishments such as the school named after Tarbut Ieshiv and several heders (primary schools). A lot of famous persons came out from Jewish Kobryn community. Probably the existing synagogue was visited by the famous American mathematician Oscar Zarisky.

The synagogue in Pervomayskaya Street.

The synagogue is an architectural monument and guarded by the state. Officially it was built in 1850 but some consider it to be older (the 18th century).

Now the synagogue is in Pervomayskaya Street in neighborhood with two cathedrals – orthodox and catholic. Unfortunately the cultural and religious centre of the Jews is in ruins. The synagogue couldn’t/t survived after the Holocaust.

Architectural peculiarities

  • Synthesis of classicism and eclecticism
  • The basilica without towers
  • Symmetric composition
  • 4 flat blade on the front façade
  • The decoration: window flat niches.

The memory about the Holocaust

In 1941 n occupied Kobryn the fascists used the synagogue as a ghetto (there were two of them in the town). In the first months 170 people were shot. Prisoners were taken to Bronaya mountain or Borysov forest and killed.

About 5000 Kobryn Jews became victims of the Holocaust. Only about hundred people were able to slip away. Last executions were made at the wall of the synagogue.

Beer was made here

In the 50-s there were only some Jews in Kobryn. According to the census of 1999 the Jews didn’t live in Kobryn at all.

After the war the building was empty. In 1980 a beer workshop was launched here. Later it produced sparkling water. In independent Belarus the workshop was closed but the problem of the synagogue restoration hasn’t solved yet.

Hope for restoration. Chronicles

  • 2000 – it was decided to restore it and an American public organization gave 1 million dollars for it.
  • 2003 – creating of Jewish religious community in Kobryn.
  • 2007 – the Israel ambassador in Belarus visited the synagogue.
  • 2008 – documents were given to Minsk Jewish organization.
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