Pakruojis Synagogue   

In 1801 the synagogue  was built. 

The synagogue of Pakruojis represents the basic type of synagogue-architecture: the shape derives from the stone fortress synagogues. Whereas most of the Lithuanian synagogues, which have survived, do not represent the “special synagogue architecture”, they resemble more the plain buildings, the local buildings. The synagogue in Pakruojis is probably the last sample of the basic type of synagogue-architecture. There was no entrance to the synagogue from the river side.

Synagogue in 1937, the frames of the windows were decorated and had a slight curve at the top

In March 2017 the extensive restauration had been finalised.
Synagogue in 2017, after the restoration

Read more about it.

In 1895 the interior of the synagogue was embellished by local Jewish artisans. 


The Aron Hakodesh ( placed always  on the eastern wall of the synagogue and containing the Torah Scrolls) was made of wood and beautifully decorated. The master who made the Aron Hakodesh was not from Pakruojis.
I don't know his name, the only thing I know is:
He was illiterate and very poor.  He worked for a very long time on the Aron Hakodesh  and was paid by the Jewish community who also offered him a place to stay.
Aron Hakodesh



There were  traditional Jewish decorations representing e.g. a lion  and also  less traditional decorations of a table with books on it and even a train. All made in a naive and rustic style. The ceiling of the synagogue was even decorated: There were gilded stars to be seen.

In 1938 the Jewish Historical & Ethnographical Society in Kaunas, headed by its chairman Dr. S. Choroznitsky, together with the Ausros Municipal Museum in Siauliai undertook a study of the shul and commissioned Mr. Chatzkel Lemchen, then a teacher at the Jewish Gymnasium in Kaunas (and later a prominent philologist) to photograph the exterior and interior of the shul. These photographs were preserved by the Ausros Museum.

Some of the decorations:

The serpent (Leviathan)  is around the building holding its tail in its mouth. When the tail is loosened the world will collapse.

Next to
the Aron Hakodesh there was the Bima in the centre of the synagogue from where the men read the Torah.  
šameš (sexton)
1927, the Kramer (Kremer)family handing over Torah Scrolls to the synagogue, these scrolls were presented by Solly Furman, Monty and Sam Kramer's uncle
Some years later the family Kramer emigrated to South Africa . 


This drawing was made by Monty Kramer

Till the Nazi German Occupation in June 1941 the synagogue was the centre of Jewish life in  Pakruojis. Bar Mitzvahs were held, marriages (a Chupa) were sealed and prayers in honour of the death were held. All the Jewish festivals were celebrated there. For the Jews of Pakruojis the synagogue was their haven, their inspiration, which cruelly was put to an end by the Germans and their collaborators.

Bar Mitzvah Leibel Shapiro

one of Rivka's brothers April 1931



The names of the rabbis living in Pakroy were :

  • R. Meshulam-Zalman bar Haim Bach
  • R.Haim bar Tuvia Katz. He went to Eretz Israel in 5570/1810 and died in Safed in 5573/1813.
  • R.Yosef Yaffe
  • R. Mordechai
  • R. Nahum Shapira
  • R. Shmuel-Meir bar YosefYakov Shur. He died in 5658/1898
  • R. Chaim Zalman Kron, In 1925 he was an advisor on Jewish affairs in the Lithuanian Ministry of Interior. He was murdered together with the men of his community in 1941 at Morkakalnis.
  • R. David Ozer Tch(sj)ek(ch)ano(v)sky(ij) who died a natural death around 1940.


The virtual reconstruction of the Pakruojis synagogue : for visiting the website: click here 

Reseach project of the Center for Jewish Art Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In cooperation with the ministry of Culture of Lithuania.

The field documentation was made possible by a donation in the name of the Morgenstern- Atlas Family and by an anonymous donor.

Research: Ivan Čerešnješ, Aliza Cohen-Mushlin, Sergey Kravtsov, Ilona Steimann.
Field documentation: Zoya Arshavsky, Sergey Kravtsov
Computer reconstruction: Sergey Kravtsov
Voiceover: Judy Cardozo


R. (David Ozer)Tch(sj)ek(ch)ano(v)sky(ij) might be the man in the black coat in the middle of this photo

After the war, from 1944 on, the synagogue served for all kind of purposes and in 1954 it was transformed into a cinema and a sports hall.  The wall paintings could still be intact, they are to be found under the new plaster and stucco when the building was remodelled. Perhaps the decorations on the ceiling are even intact. But nowadays nothing is to be seen , everything is waiting to be revealed and the building is in a bad shape, now.(2017)

The man who got the assignment to transform the synagogue was, Jonas Dvelys.

Copyright © 2017 Dora Boom

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