White Synagogue of Joniškis will be opened this Saturday

This Saturday (July 8, at 12.00 pm) Joniškis will host the official opening of the White Synagogue - an important cultural heritage object for the local community, the Jewish community and the whole country. The opening ceremony will be part of the three-day long Joniškis town celebration.

The White Synagogue located in the centre of Joniškis is one of the town’s oldest buildings which features the elements of late classicism and romanticism. The White Synagogue together with the later built Red Synagogue forms a unique 19th century synagogue complex. This distinctive complex was on the verge of vanishing – after the Second World War the White Synagogue was converted into a warehouse, later transformed into a gym, and eventually its interior got destroyed. Meanwhile, the Red Synagogue was ravaged by fire and suffered from the invasive Soviet reconstruction.

Both synagogues have been preserved thanks to the support of the EEA grants and funds from the Lithuanian state budget. The Red Synagogue was restored and adapted for public needs back in 2011. Revitalization works of the White Synagogue were completed earlier this year under the programme implemented by the Ministry of Culture “Conservation and revitalisation of cultural and natural heritage”.

During the project, the interior of the synagogue underwent major repairs, and the ongoing façade restoration works were finished. The synagogue was equipped with furniture and computer software as well as lighting and audio equipment which created excellent conditions for hosting various events. It also accommodates an interactive exposition to acquaint visitors with the history of Joniškis. Support for the White Synagogue amounted to 350 thousand euros which made 90 percent of the project’s value. The remaining 10 per cent was allocated by the municipality of Joniškis town.

This meaningful investment allowed to finish revitalization works of the valuable synagogue ensemble and thus contributed to the improvement of the public infrastructure, the touristic attractiveness of the city, increased familiarity with the Jewish history. The revitalized complex was handed over to Joniškis Museum of History and Culture. Due to its activity, the complex has already become an important part of the town and an active cultural venue.

Interior of the synagogue in 2014 and 2017 (R. Urbakavičius photos).

Interactive exposition on Joniškis town history (photo by D. Stabrauskaitė)

The balcony of the synagogue has also been adapted for participants of events (photo by D. Stabrauskaitė).

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