In the 19th century Jewish community in Lazdijai organized everything for the infrastructure of its religious life. Firstly, the synagogue has been built, then – a nearby beit midrash, Rabbi`s house, and a Jewish school. All these buildings formed a shulhof in the centre of Lazdijai. This intersection between Vilnius street and Old town alley was the place, where all Jewish community gathered together – either to pray or to chat, conduct business and listen to the hottest gossip in town.
Jewish history in Lazdijai began at the end of the 16th century, but Lazdijai as a shtetl with full infrastructure for the Jewish way life was formed only in the middle of the 19th century. At that time they constituted around 60 percent of the local population. The historical Jewish quarter was around the market square, local Jews lived and engaged in trade and crafts in the same houses. At the beginning of the 20th-century Jewish activities in Lazdijai were not limited to trade and crafts, they owned 16 out of 17 local factories, there were many Jewish families who got into farming as well.
During the interwar period, a distinguishable highlight of Jewish cultural life in Lazdijai was the local Jewish library, which had a great collection of publications both in Hebrew and Yiddish. Another joy of Lazdijai shtetl cultural life was the string orchestra „HaKoakh“ – a part of every festivity in town. Although there was no separate Jewish theatre in town, there was a massive interest in the theatre when the Yiddish theatre troupe from Kaunas visited Lazdijai in the 1920s-1930s.
In the summer of 1941 Jews from Lazdijai became the victims of mass murders organized by Nazi occupants. Only a few local Jews survived Holocaust and none of them came back to live in Lazdijai after the war.
Today both buildings of the mural synagogue and beit midrash are merged to one on Vilnius street no. 6. Both buildings have been harshly damaged during the bombing of the town in 1944. However, in the plan of Lazdijai of 1946, both buildings were still included. The remnants of these buildings were fully reconstructed in the 1950s and that is when they were merged together. During the Soviet period, the town`s cultural house and library operated in this place. In 1994 the place was officially renamed the Youth club and later it became Lazdijai cultural center. It functions as such to this day.
The old Jewish cemetery in Kalvarijos (Gėlių str.) 54.414757, 23.238094
The Great Synagogue in Kalvarijos (Sodų str. 16) 54.414448, 23.233097
Beit midrash in Kalvarijos (Sodų str. 18) 54.41472, 23.233578