08 May 2009

Belarus: Mogilev synagogue returned

Is your family from Mogilev, Belarus? Here's some breaking news for researchers whose ancestors came from the city and environs.

Following six years of meetings, the Mogilev, Belarus Jewish community has finally received back one of its synagogues. There were some 40 synagogues in the city at one point.

This photo has not been identified as that of the synagogue in question, but has appeared in very early encyclopedia articles on Mogilev.

The synagogue being returned is on Bolshaya Grazhdanskaya - in the Shkolische District - in a picturesque area of Mogilev and was used as a synagogue and community center before the Soviet era. Later used as a water-pumping station, it overlooks the bank of the Dniepr River, which runs through the city.

Known as the "cold synagogue," it dates back to the late 17th-early 18th century and is located near where the city center ends and the large Podnikolye Park begins, on the river bank. It is close to the historical quarter and a large bridge near the synagogue connected the city's two sections.

The story appeared on the website of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS.

Jewish community chair Eli (Oleg) Genilis with the support of Mogilev City Council head Victor Shorikov and others, spent six years on the project. Once the City Council ruled in favor of the project, the council approached the office of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, and the transfer was approved.

The community plans to reconstruct the historic synagogue which will again be used as a synagogue and Jewish community center.

Only three buildings previously owned by the community in the Jewish neighborhood remain; the synagogue was the best preserved of the three.

The Jewish community of Mogilev is now launching an appeal to raise funds to finance this important and historic project. Click here to learn more. Donations may be made in the memory of a deceased family member or friend, or in honor of someone who inspired you.

The FJC is a non-profit, tax-exempt, 501(c)3 organization.

For more on Mogilev and the Jewish community visit the JewishGen page here.

For two additional photos of Mogilev synagogues (not named), click here.

See postcards of Mogilev, including synagogues, at Boris Feldblyum's site here.

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