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Sejny

History of the synagogue

Sejny’s „White Synagogue”, which owes its name to the color of its façade, is located on the main street of the town, the center of which is located on the axis between the Basilica and the synagogue. It was built in 1885 in place of a wooden „shingled roof with a sumptuous frontal colonnade.” It is a three-nave structure, on a rectangular plan. Architecturally, the interior of the synagogue is a combination of a Gothic six-square with a baroque central solution, which is emphasized by the arrangement of four richly profiled pillars supporting the ceiling In addition to the brick synagogue, there were also two houses of prayer in Sejny. The synagogue was probably used only on major holidays. In the eastern wall there is a recess for the aron ha-Kodesh. Nothing was left of the original synagogue furnishings, everything was taken away by the Germans and plundered. During the occupation, the synagogue was used by the Germans as a fire station. After the war, it housed a fertilizer warehouse and a depot for municipal vehicles. The renovation of the synagogue, carried out by the Monuments Conservation Laboratory, began in 1978 and lasted until 1987. At that time, the shape of the windows in the four extreme axes of the south-west façade was restored, the tower was demolished, the front façade was reconstructed and new woodwork was made.

Currently, the „White Synagogue” is put into use by Ośrodek Pogranicze – Sztuk, Kultur, Narodów (Borderland – of Arts, Cultures, and Nations Centre) and serves as a meeting place, and a venue for concerts, theater performances and exhibitions. Currently, in the synagogue space there is an exhibition ...and they did not return. The Jews of Sejny 1939, which was created in autumn 2019 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the destruction of the Sejny shtetl. Five hundred and thirty-seven names of the inhabitants of Sejny murdered during the Holocaust, which are listed on the walls of the synagogue in Sejny, are a proof of their memory and their tragic fate. The authors of the exhibition are: Bożena Szroeder and Wiesław Szumiński.

 

 

                          Virtual tour of the synagogue in Sejny  

 

                   Virtual tour  
of the synagogue in Sejny   

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The opportunity to get acquainted with selected monuments of Jewish heritage in Poland (synagogues, cemeteries and a funeral home) and visit them without leaving home.

Virtual Tours

A series of three webinars, organized in late autumn 2021, inaugurating a discussion on the historical and cultural value of tangible Jewish heritage in Poland, as well as the challenges facing Polish and Jewish partners involved in its protection.

Webinars

Blog about Jewish heritage in Poland. Interesting articles, fascinating photo reports presenting the beauty and symbolism of Jewish monuments.

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History of the yeshiva

The yeshiva building is located opposite the „White Synagogue”. This Talmudic school, famous throughout Lithuania, was founded in the second half of the 19th century by an outstanding theologian and philosopher, rabbi from Sejny, Moshe Yitzhak Avigdor. Thanks to its folk-revolutionary character, the school was highly appreciated by the supporters of the Jewish Enlightenment. Thanks to it, Sejny briefly became the center of the Haskalah movement for Lithuania. Among other things, conferences of prominent Lithuanian rabbis were held here. With time, the tsarist government, fearing the further spread of the Enlightenment trend, closed the school.

At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, there was a cheder (a religious school for boys) in the yeshiva building, and a prayer house on the upper floor. After World War II, the building was used as a shoe factory.

Currently, it houses the „Sejneńska Spółdzielnia Jazzowa” (Sejny Jazz Co-operative) with the Klezmer Orchestra of the Sejny Theatre. Concerts, meetings and music workshops are held here.

 

 

                                  Virtual tour of the yeshiva in Sejny  

 

                      Virtual tour   
of the jeshiva in Sejny