Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Belarus: Former Synagogue Demolished in Luban

Belarus: Former Synagogue Demolished in Luban
by Samuel D. Gruber

(ISJM) Associate Press writer Yuras Karmanau reports on the demolition of a former synagogue in Luban, Belarus. It is worth noting the history of the building had previously been recognized with a plaque. Local musuem officials are reporting that the building was not of value since it did not look like a synagogue - implying that there is a specific way that synagogues should look (not so!). I do not know this building, but I do know that historic and architectural preservation requires attention to a full range of building types - architecturally distinctive structures and typical vernacular ones - in order to present a balanced view of the past. There was time not long ago that 19th century buildings and modern-style buildings weren't deemed historic and worth protecting. Given the extensive destruction and loss of Jewish cultural, religious and other heritage sites in Belarus, every surviving site is a surrogate for those lost. Demolition should only be an extreme and last resort.

I hope this building was fully documented (I am trying to find photos now).

Belarus destroys synagogue of renowned rabbi

By YURAS KARMANAU, Associated Press

Fri Apr 24, 4:27 pm ET

LUBAN, Belarus – The roof has been removed and the windows stripped of their frames and glass. Piece by piece, workers are tearing down the former synagogue where a renowned rabbi served before fleeing the Soviet Union for New York in 1936.

Moshe Feinstein, considered one of the most influential Orthodox rabbis in the United States until his death in 1986, was the last rabbi to serve at the synagogue in this once predominantly Jewish town.

After his departure, the synagogue in Luban was taken over by Young Pioneers for the training of future communists. Within five years, most of the Jews were gone too, as almost the entire Jewish population was rounded up and shot by the invading Nazis in World War II.

Read the full story here.

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