Obj. ID: 8909
Jewish Architecture Beit Midrash in Linkuva, Lithuania
The beit midrash was built in 1890 in the so-called “brick style.” As the interwar photograph shows, it was a building of rectangular plan, built of red brick on a socle of stone, with a gable roof. Pilasters accentuating its corners terminated with square turrets. On the southeastern façade, seen in the photograph, the division between the prayer hall and the two-storey part was marked by a pilaster. The fourteen tall, pointed windows of the prayer hall were framed with brickwork encasements with keystones. These windows were underlined with a stringcourse and depressed panels beneath the sills. Another stringcourse marked the springs of the pointed arches. The façades of the prayer hall were crowned with an arched band and a cornice. The northeastern façade had a triangular gable pierced by two larger and two smaller segment-headed windows with elaborated pediments and an oculus. The gable was topped by a central turret. Two additional turrets terminated two lesenes on the gable, which probably referred to the biblical Jachin and Boaz.
The windows of the vestibule and women’s section in the twostorey part were comparatively small and segment-headed. On the southeastern façade were four windows of the women’s section in the upper floor and three windows and the main entrance on the lower one. Each window had a sinuous pediment; their sills were united into a stringcourse.
As to the interior, a photograph shows the Torah ark in the central bay of the northeastern wall. It is based on a stepped ground plan, and has two tiers. The ark stood on a pedestal, and stairs lead to a platform in front of it. The lower tier includes three Ionic columns on either side of the Torah shrine, and it is crowned with a stepped entablature. Electric bulbs are fixed on top of this entablature, four on each side of the shrine. A protruding semicircular lambrequin bears a squat decorative element, composed of gilt scrolls and crenellation. The upper tier has four fluted columns of a similar order, which frame three fenestrated bays, topped with sinuous pediments. The central bay is pierced with coupled round-headed windows, with an oculus above them. These windows are glazed and inscribed with the Ten Commandments, while the oculus is inscribed with the Name of the Lord. These inscriptions are lit by a hidden source of light, possibly the central window, placed behind them. The side bays are pierced with a single round-headed window each, and an oculus above it. This tier of the ark is topped with vases, and flanked by sculptured volutes and floral decoration, and a depiction of an open curtain painted on the northeastern wall. An amud with candles and electric bulbs stands to the right of the ark.
In 1959 the former beit midrash was converted into a cinema. Later, the building housed a sawmill, and the women’s section was used as an apartment. The sawmill is still in operation, and the former residential premises stand abandoned. In 2008, the exterior was mostly plastered and retains part of the authentic openings in the two-storey part of the building. All the windows of the prayer hall and of the northeastern gable are bricked up, their decorations demolished, new rectangular openings cut into the wall, and a lower two-storey annex covered with a lean-to roof was attached to the southeastern wall. The corners of the façades are still framed by pilasters bearing redbrick capitals. The southwestern gable façade contains a central segment-headed doorway and two tiers of asymmetrically arranged windows. The original segment-headed windows that have survived to the right of the door have sinuous redbrick pediments. In the center of the triangular gable, marks of windows with sinuous pediments are visible; there are small blind semicircular windows on the sides of the gable, and above, the year of construction– 5650 – is marked. The northeastern façade is blank: its lower part retains small square redbrick niches with recesses, and the triangular gable retains two brick lesenes. The middle bay of the gable contains sinuous pediments of former windows and a bricked-up oculus encircled with redbrick surrounds. Under the oculus, an inscription in Hebrew reads שנת תר״ן , i.e. the year (5)650. It should be noted that the date in Hebrew letters is situated on the northeastern side, in the direction of the prayer, while the date with Arabic numerals is placed on the opposite façade. On the side façades, pilasters accentuate the division between the prayer hall and two-storey part of the building. The segment-headed windows of the two-storey part retain sinuous redbrick pediments. Both side façades and the northeastern façade are crowned with an arched band; the raking cornices of the gables are redbrick. The interior was destroyed; the openings in the wall separating the women’s section and the prayer hall were bricked-up.
| 2 Ugniagesių St.
Cohen-Mushlin, Aliza, Sergey Kravtsov, Vladimir Levin, Giedrė Mickūnaitė, Jurgita Šiaučiūnaitė-Verbickienė (eds.), Synagogues in Lithuania. A Catalogue, 2 vols. (Vilnius: VIlnius Academy of Art Press, 2010-12)
Marija Rupeikienė, Nykstantis kultūros paveldas: Lietuvos sinagogų architektūra (Vilnius, 2003), p. 141;
Pinkas hakehilot: Lita, ed. Dov Levin (Jerusalem, 1996), p. 361;
Rossiiskaia evreiskaia entsiklopediia (Moscow), vol. 5 - 2004, p. 293;
Y.D.Kamzon, Yahadut lita: tmunot vetziyunim (Jerusalem, 1959), ill. on p. 171;
Yad Va-Shem Archives - archives of images №48864, №45912;
Y.D.Kamzon, Yahadut lita: tmunot vetziyunim (Jerusalem, 1959), vol. 3, p. 322;
Hamelits, no. 9, 12-01-1898, p. 6 - from Alex Valdman