Project Lead: USCPAHA Commission Members
Location: Žiežmariai, Kaišiadorys district municipality, Lithuania
The Žiežmariai synagogue built in the late 19th century is one of only a handful of surviving wooden synagogues in Europe. Once Lithuania hosted around 150 wooden synagogues, but those still standing only number just over a dozen, which constitute the major concentration of wooden synagogues still standing in Europe.
The Žiežmariai Synagogue is a rare surviving example of the “original architectural genre” of Renaissance-era wooden synagogues built in Poland and Lithuania.
The Žiežmariai synagogue was ravaged by fire in 1920 and was rebuilt before World War II. During the Holocaust Jews were locked in the synagogue before being shot in late August, 1941. It was then used as a storehouse for looted Jewish property.
There were almost no Jews left after the war and the synagogue continued to be used as a warehouse. After Lithuanian independence from the Soviet Union, the ruined building was returned to the Lithuanian Jewish Community.
Restoration work in Žiežmariai began in 2016. The state and local government financed the planning for the restoration project and the restoration itself, and the LJC contributed money and consultation as well.
The major part of the restoration works was accomplished in 2021. The aim of all maintenance works is to preserve and restore the remaining authentic fragments of the interior as much as possible.” The women’s balcony remains to be restored; the Jewish Community of Lithuania has requested the Commission’s assistance with this project.
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