Choral Synagogue in Vilnius


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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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.


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).


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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  • Fay Davies
    2021-03-06 at 5:32 pm  -  Reply

    Read the book by Chaim Grade, My Mother’s Sabbath Days (the English title) the Choral Synagoguen is mentioned in it.

  • kèo nhà cái
    2023-04-23 at 8:03 am  -  Reply

    Excellent way of describing, and nice post to obtain information regarding my presentation topic, which i am
    going to deliver in college.

  • Linda Messing
    2023-04-28 at 12:50 am  -  Reply

    Hello! I am a New York Jew visiting Vilnius on Monday and Tuesday May 8 and 9. I had arranged a full day tour of Jewish Vilnius and the Forest but just found out my tour was cancelled. Can you recommend a tour guide that I might contact to arrange a tour while I am in your city? While my grandparents were all from Poland, I am very interested in the history of the Jews in Lithuania and in Vilnius, the former Jerusalem of Eastern Europe.

    Thank you so much in advance for your help,

    Linda Messing

    • Hello Linda,
      Did you enjoy your trip ? I’m planning a visit in May, with limited time in Vilnius (1/2 day), so hoping to visit some Jewish sites, any recommendations ?
      The shul ? The ghetto ? Thanks for your help.

  • Margaret Gorelik
    2023-09-12 at 10:05 pm  -  Reply

    Hi! I’m visiting Vilnius for the Holy Holiday . Do you hold any service for the Holidays. And my systems coming from New York. I’m current member of Seagare Shul under Rabbi Brikman . Please clarified the information how we we could get in. Sincerely, Margaret Gorelik

  • Natalie Mcilroy
    2024-01-02 at 1:05 pm  -  Reply

    Good evening
    I am writing from Australia to find out if anyway I can find out if Gercas Borveinas is still alive. There was a message on your page a few years ago wishing him happy birthday. We have sent an email to Gercas at the last known email address and have had no response. The letter was translated into Lithuanian for me..
    My mum is not so well and in aged care. unfortunately we do not speak Lithuanian so it was also difficult for my mum to communicate when she did manage to speak to him. I think they might have tried yiddish too.
    My mums name is Sylvia Borstein..She was Barwin. Her late father Benjamin Barwin was previously Borveinas. I think they might have been brothers or cousins..
    We would greatly appreciate any help or suggestions you can offer. Thank you
    kind Regards
    Natalie Borstein Mcilroy

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