Belarus Synagogue Ravaged by Fire, No Injuries Reported

Grodno Shul is One of the Oldest in Europe

European Treasure: The Great Choral Synagogue of Grodno, built in the 16th century, is one of the oldest on the continent.
Wikimedia Commons
European Treasure: The Great Choral Synagogue of Grodno, built in the 16th century, is one of the oldest on the continent.

By JTA

Published November 29, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

One of Europe’s oldest functioning synagogues sustained heavy damage in a fire that broke out in the city of Grodno in Belarus.

The flames erupted Tuesday night as a result of malfunctioning heating system and consumed the dining room and part of the second floor of Grodno’s Great Choral Synagogue, according to a report Wednesday by the Ministry of Emergency Situations. No one was injured.

According to Chabad.info, an official website of the Hasidic movement, Great Choral was built in the 16th century and is believed to be the oldest synagogue still in use in the former Soviet Union. Thanks to the quick intervention of the local fire brigade, the damage from the fire was limited to 30 square yards and did not spread to the first and third floors.

The synagogue burned down completely in 1899, according to the website of the local Jewish community, but was renovated and fully restored. Last year, the Jewish community of Grodno announced it was preparing for more renovations due to neglect during the Soviet era.

During World War II, Nazi forces rounded up the Jewish population of Grodno in and around the building before sending them to the death camps.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Is it better to have a young, fresh rabbi, or a rabbi who stays with the same congregation for a long time? What do you think?
  • Why does the leader of Israel's social protest movement now work in a beauty parlor instead of the Knesset?
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.