Thursday, January 28, 2010

Belarus: Remaining Wooden Synagogue at Luban to be Designated Protected Site

Luban, Belarus. Surviving synagogue building.
Photo courtesy: Jewish Heritage Research Group in Belarus

Belarus: Remaining Wooden Synagogue at Luban to be Designated Protected Sites, ISJM Seeks Funds to Speed Up Belarus Synagogue Documentation
by Samuel D. Gruber

(ISJM) Last April and May, I reported on the unnecessary destruction of the wooden former synagogue in Luban (Lyubin), Belarus. At that time, there was also a second wooden building - now a music school - identified as a former synagogue. The destruction of one synagogue prompted research and appeals on behalf of the other, and now Yuri Dorn, Coordinator of Jewish Heritage Research Group in Belarus, reports that the surviving wooden synagogue in Luban will be included by the government preservation commission of historical and cultural heritage of Belarus on the list of objects under government protection.

At present, because of its use as music school, the building is not endangered. Many other synagogues in Belarus are, however, at risk. Some have been documented and even returned to the Jewish Community, but there are no funds for their restoration as Jewish synagogues or centers or their adaptive reuse. Many other former synagogue are hardly documented, and this is needed to preserve their history for the future, but also to better protect the buildings in the present. Archival documentations is needed, as well as the preparation of architectural plans and drawings. With proper documentation many of these buildings could be listed a protected sites and some might be developed as restoration and reuse projects.

ISJM in partnership with the Jewish Heritage Research Group in Belarus will support such documentation projects - provided funding. Contributions can be sent to ISJM - mark "Belarus" on the memo line. Our first funding goal the modest amount of $10,000 - but this will be sufficient to prepare substantial documentation on several sites.

For more information, contact me directly at


Hels said...

When was the Luban synagogue built, does anyone know? And how did people know the music school was once a synagogue - by historical records alone or because there are objects inside the building that could only have come from a synagogue?

Does the Belarus government's preservation commission of historical and cultural heritage merely document historically interesting objects, or do they really protect them for ever?

Samuel Gruber said...

For many of these buildings there is both documentation...maps, city directories, tax documents, etc. as well as memory. The listing will only stop the building from hasty demolition...