Choral Synagogue in Vilnius

WORTH VISITING:

Since its establishment this synagogue differed from other Jewish prayer houses in Vilnius – worship in this synagogue was not only perfectly organized, but there was also a choir, which assisted during the worship. That is why this synagogue was and is until this day called a choral synagogue. A lot of attention in this synagogue was paid to the sermons, which were conducted in German at first, and later – in Russian. This synagogue was special as the only synagogue in Vilnius, which operated during the Soviet occupation and it is still the only working synagogue in Vilnius today.

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BRIEF HISTORY:

Today choral synagogue Taharat Ha-Kodesh is the only open synagogue in Vilnius. It was built in 1903 and was the first public synagogue (not dedicated to the prayers of certain professional group) in Vilnius after the Great Vilnius synagogue. It gathered a relatively small but growing group of modern Jews – Maskils – in the city. This group had got together in Vilnius already in the 1820s, in the house of a rich and influential Jewish family – Kacenelenbogens. However, due to the resistance of Vilna Jews who practiced traditional Jewish religious life, Maskils were allowed to open a public prayer house on Vokiečių (German) street only in 1847. The establishment of the new synagogue meant that for the first time in Vilnius a new Jewish religious community, the one that practices the ideals of Haskalah, managed to secure religious and cultural space separate from the dominant conservative Vilna Jewish community – misnagdim.

CURRENT SITUATION:

A memorial plate in Yiddish and Lithuanian was attached to the synagogue building in 2003. It states, that this synagogue has been built by the followers of Vilna Gaon in 1903 – this story presents a specific version of synagogue`s history, which could only imply that all followers of traditional Judaism in Vilnius are the followers of Vilna Gaon.

Today the choral synagogue is one of few synagogues, which is still working in nowadays Lithuania.  However, its door is not open daily for any passer-by, so if You wish to visit the synagogue and admire not only its exterior but the interior as well, we would recommend contacting the supervisors of the synagogue in advance by phone +370 526 12523 (I-V 10.00-14.00).

LOOKING AROUND:

Jewish street, 54.679532, 25.285090

The place of the Great Synagogue and shulhof (jid. shulhoyf) (Žydų g. 3), 54.679901, 25.284511

The mausoleum of Vilna Gaon and his family (Jewish cemetery, Sudervė road, 28), 54.712898, 25.234477

A sculpture of Vilna Gaon (Žydų g. 3), 54.680137, 25.285079

Choral synagogue Taharat ha–Kodesh (Pylimo g. 39), 54.676070, 25.281575

Užupis synagogue (Užupio g. 36), 54.681471, 25.298633

A sculpture of doctor Cemachas Šabadas  (sculpt. Romualdas Kvintas), 54.677248, 25.284342

Pohulanka (now. J. Basanavičius street), 54.680145, 25.276134

The place of old Jewish cemetery in Šnipiškės (Olimpiečių g. 1a), 54.690243, 25.291117

Jewish cemetery in Užupis (Olandų g. 22), 54.688106, 25.307748

The printing house of widow Rom and Rom brothers (A. Strazdelio g. 3), 54.675534, 25.292128

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