Obj. ID: 104
Jewish Architecture Great Synagogue in Oshmiany, Belarus
The synagogue may have been built in the mid-19th century, in the Neo-Classicist style. Its brick walls are decorated with pilasters that echo the pilasters in the prayer hall (both have corner pilasters and coupled pilasters in the center of the walls). The placement of pilasters in the interior allows us to assume that the vaults initially rested upon a bimah support situated in the center of the prayer hall.
The main entrance to the synagogue is situated in the western façade. The women’s section is on the upper floor of the western volume above the vestibule. Its entrance was by a wooden staircase attached to the southern façade (not preserved).
The Hebrew newspaper Hamelitz (No. 179, 12.8.1902, p. 2-3) stated that the synagogue was re-inaugurated in August 1902, and that the repair was undertaken by the gabbai (warden) of the synagogue, Horovitz. It stands to reason that the repair included the demolition of the original vaults, bimah, and the construction of a new wooden dome on the interior and a new roof. It seems also that the original windows of the prayer hall were enlarged and a round window above the Torah ark was inserted (or remodeled). The women’s section was connected to the prayer hall through five large arches. The western gable of the new roof was decorated by two wooden figures of lions (the southern lion is still preserved).
Judging from the style of paintings of the interior dome and of the Zodiac signs, it is probable that another renovation was undertaken in the 1920s before the measured drawings of 1929 were prepared.
After WWII, the building was transformed into a storage facility. Some of the windows and the arcade of the women’s section were bricked up and a wooden gallery was erected in the prayer hall. Three wide gateways were made on the eastern wall and later bricked up as well.
Piechotka, Maria and Kazimierz. Bramy Nieba: Bóżnice murowane na ziemiach dawnej Rzeczypospolitej (Warsaw, 1999).