The building of the former new beit midrash in Kaunas stands out among the surrounding buildings – it is like a ghost from the past, which former function today is known or remembered only by a few daily passers-by. We invite You to join this extraordinary minority of passers-by, who are qualified to evaluate the importance of this building in the whole mental Kaunas cultural heritage map!
The history of this new beit midrash is not so recent as it might seem from its name. This two-stories high prayer house was built in 1860-1862 and dedicated to those Jews, who studied religious texts for a living. The massiveness of this building lets us presume, that there were quite a lot of such people in Kaunas Jewish community. The community itself took constant care of the building. During the interwar period, in the 1930s, its main Western facade, which had various elements of Eastern style decor, had been changed according to the Western modern style of that time.
The transformation of the new beit midrash building has already begun during the Soviet period – it was divided into few separate sections and adjusted to small shops. This commercial purpose of the building is continued to this day. However, there is an addition to the shops – car service is operating on these premises. The interior of its garage still has original columns from the prayer house’s main hall.
The building is on the crossroads of two streets – on Birštonas str. 14/Puodžiai str. 1. But the Eastern facade of the beit midrash is the most preserved, so only from the side of Puodžiai street, the current building still reminds us at least a bit of a previous Jewish prayer house.
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