Butchers` synagogue in Kaunas


Each big Jewish community in Lithuania usually had not only one or two general beit midrashes or synagogues, where all members of the community gathered during the great holidays, but there were also smaller prayer houses for everyday prayers dedicated to the specific groups – tailors, blacksmiths, butchers, etc. The only extant building of this kind of prayer house in Kaunas is a building of butchers` synagogue. Surprise surprise – it stood on Butchers` (Mėsininkų) street (nowadays – Daukšos str. 27a), where Kaunas Jews came to buy kosher meat.

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The Butchers` synagogue was built in the second half of the 19th century and since then it was one of the biggest buildings in the quarter with extraordinary pointed-arc windows. When the synagogue was built this street was on the margins of the city`s Jewish quarter. During the annual consecration of the synagogue, the head Rabbi of Kaunas visited the synagogue and led the worship. Local Jew Bal Bachshoves in his memoirs of 1921 remembers visits to this synagogue of the famous Icchok Spektor – it was an event of both religious and social importance.


Today the Butchers` synagogue building (Daukšos str. 27a) is only a symbolical reminder of the previous prayer house before the Second World War. During the Soviet occupation, it was changed a lot and after Lithuania regained independence, the building was transferred to an artists` workshop of the Kaunas department of Vilnius art academy.


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