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Obj. ID: 8880
Jewish Architecture
  New Šančiai Synagogue (Beit Midrash) in Kaunas, Lithuania

© “Synagogues in Lithuania: A Catalogue” Archives, Photographer: Kazakauskaitė, Evelina, 2006

The building was designed in 1929 by P. Taročkovas on the occasion of the tenth anniversary ofLithuania’s independence; the construction works began in the same year, but were held up because of lack of means. The community appealed to President Antanas Smetona for support, which was granted by giving wood at a lower price on credit; nevertheless, the construction was still not accomplished by 1932. Taročkovas’ design combines modernist architecture with Moorish and “brick style” elements. It shows a brick building based on a rectangular plan with a protrusion for the Torah ark on the eastern façade facingSodų Street. The prayer hall in the eastern part is lit by ten high pointed windows and two smaller ones in the lateral sides of the protrusion. It is broader than long, and includes four slim columns that surround the bimah in the center (the designs do not show a bimah). The Torah ark of oriental style is pictured in a niche spanned with pointed Oriental vaulting; two flights of stairs lead to the podium in front of the ark. Stoves are placed against the western wall on both sides of the entrance to the hall. The two-storey western part has a narrow vestibule in the middle, flanked by two rooms with stoves. On the northern side a staircase leads to the women’s section on the first floor.

The façades are designed according to their importance, the most meaningful and decorated ones being the eastern street façade and the western entrance façade. Both façades have a five-bay structure, which is articulated by the stepped gable. Three central bays are emphasized by four buttresses. The central bay of the western façade has a pointed oriental arch framing the main entrance, surmounted by a decorative band of blind pointed arches. On the eastern façade, the central bay is shown occupied by the Torah ark protrusion with a similar band of arches, covered with a half-cupola (currently destroyed). In the gables, the central bay is divided into two parts by three lesenes which protrude upwards, and a pair of narrow windows is situated between them. The bays flanking thecentral one have a decorative band of blind pointed arches at their top, a little lower than the upper ends of the flanking buttresses. Thus, the façades are reminiscent of Middle-Eastern architecture and allude to theJerusalemTemple. The eastern façade includes four pointed windows giving light to the centraland side bays of the prayer hall. The western façade has similar windows but these are arranged in two tiers: wider windows in the lower one and the narrow windows in the upper one, lighting the women’s section. The side façades are arranged in a simpler manner; they are divided by lesenes into four bays – three regular ones with pointed windows belonging to the prayer hall, and a broader one in the west. The western bay is two-storey with small lancet windows on the first floor; on the ground floor there is a pair of windows on the southern façade and an entrance to the staircase to the women’s section on the northern façade.

During the Soviet period the synagogue was transformed into a bakery; today (2007) the building is abandoned. Only the eastern façade has retained most of its original details, but the protrusion was removed and the remaining opening was bricked up and plastered. The upper parts of the pointed windows on all façades were blocked and replaced by rectangular windows. Although a low annex was attached to the northern side, the façade remained unchanged. The southern façade is concealed by attached annexes, as is the case with the western one, where only a bricked-up window opening can still be seen on the left.

Summary and Remarks

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Name/Title
New Šančiai Synagogue (Beit Midrash) in Kaunas | Unknown
Object Detail
Monument Setting
Unknown
Date
1929-1932
Synagogue active dates
Until WWII
Reconstruction dates
After WWII
Artist/ Maker
Historical Origin
Unknown
Community type
Congregation
Unknown
Location
Lithuania | Kaunas County | Kaunas | Šančiai
| 36 Sodų Street
Site
Unknown
Period
Unknown
Period Detail
Collection
Unknown |
Documentation / Research project
Unknown
Iconographical Subject
Unknown |
Textual Content
Unknown |
Languages of inscription
Unknown
Type of grave
Unknown
Material/Technique
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Density
Colors
Construction material
Brick
Measurements
Height
Length
Width
Depth
Circumference
Thickness
Diameter
Weight
Axis
Panel Measurements
Condition
Extant
Documented by CJA
Surveyed by CJA
Present Usage
Abandoned
Present Usage Details
Condition of Building Fabric
D (Very bad)
Architectural Significance type
Historical significance: Event/Period
Historical significance: Collective Memory/Folklore
Historical significance: Person
Architectural Significance: Style
Architectural Significance: Artistic Decoration
Urban significance
Significance Rating
2 (Regional)
0
Ornamentation
Custom
Contents
Codicology
Scribes
Script
Number of Lines
Ruling
Pricking
Quires
Catchwords
Hebrew Numeration
Blank Leaves
Direction/Location
Façade (main)
Endivances
Location of Torah Ark
Location of Apse
Location of Niche
Location of Reader's Desk
Location of Platform
Temp: Architecture Axis
Arrangement of Seats
Location of Women's Section
Direction Prayer
Direction Toward Jerusalem
East
Coin
Coin Series
Coin Ruler
Coin Year
Denomination
Signature
Colophon
Scribal Notes
Watermark
Hallmark
Group
Group
Group
Group
Group
Trade Mark
Binding
Decoration Program
Suggested Reconsdivuction
History/Provenance
Main Surveys & Excavations
2006--2007
Sources

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)
Type
Documenter
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Author of description
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Architectural Drawings
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Computer Reconstruction
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Section Head
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Language Editor
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Donor
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Negative/Photo. No.
The following information on this monument will be completed:
Unknown |