Ostryna – jewish open air museum
It was a second visit to Ostryna(Astrina, Astrin, Ostrino, Astryna). After one year 3 important jewish buildings were demolished by the goverment according to unsafe condition. This year i was standing in front of the building that was built in 1899 and together with my guest we tried to make a nice pictures when the man opened the door and said hello! His name was Albert, he bought that building in 2004 the building was an emergency condition. Albert made a most important work to stop the fall of the house now he produces here a gravestones. He wants to earn some money and equip it fully. Albert told us that the following 3 houses were ruined down last year after first my visit to Astryna – jewish open air museum. I have never seen such a unique historical place, abandoned jewish houses, carble stone street, rabbi house, 2 synagogues, sauna in one place Ostryna.
Skidel a sweet place
Skidel a town in Grodno oblast, Belarus, in Poland-Lithuania until 1785, and from 1807 incorporated into Russia. Jews settled in Skidel in the mid-18th century and later became the majority in the town. Jews earned their livelihood by trading in grain and timber, in the retail trade, crafts, and tanning, especially from the end of the 19th century. The community came to an end in the Holocaust. After World War II Skidel became a part of Russia again, and all traces of its past as a Jewish shtetl rapidly disappeared. The town center, which had featured yeshivas, synagogues, factories, hospitals, and homes, was never rebuilt. The remaining towns people dismantled the Jewish cemetery and used the stones to build their homes. Nowdays you can not smell a Jewish town atmosphere only a bad smell that comes from the sugar factory..
Waiting for the last Jew
She was a teacher of history, her husband worked as a mechanic in the kolkhoz. I met them during my Jewish shtetl tour in Belarus in a small village named “Lazy”. Most wooden houses they looked very authentic, they had a roof covered by woodn tiles. Old couple told us,that now in the village only 40 people left.. they still remember those times when 700 people lived there.. hard to believe.. but it is true, village is dying. Old couple sitting on the bench in the bus stop and waiting for the car-shop to come. That place is too small to have a shop this was the reason for closing the last shop 2 years ago. It ishard to believe but we felt 100 years back when the locals were waiting a jewish sellers to come with different type of food products. Jewish sellers visiting a small towns with a horse buggies full of products are still welcomed.
Here you can feel the ancient atmoshpere, to breathe the air your ancestors breathed, to see and touch old houses, speak with the oldest local people, taste traditional food that was cooked hundred years ago! This is your great chance to create your own unique tour.
The Great synagogue of Vilna
The Great Synagogue of Vilna, familiarly called the “Shtot Shul”, was one of the oldest in Eastern Europe. The building was begun in 1573, and its completion must have taken many years, for on the iron gates on its entrances, inscriptions of the various Societies which had donated them were dated 1640 and 1642. The construction had to be in accordance with the law of that period which forbade any structure to tower over its neighbours. The Shul, therefore, had to be built downwards, with very deep foundations, to allow for a magnificent interior. The exterior view was plain and insignificant, but the interior, by contrast, was splendid and most impressive. Four massive equidistant columns supported the beautiful. Gothic vaulting descending from the roof, and the great candelabrum was suspended from the centre. The Synagogue was constructed on a substantial and massive scale, for it was intended to serve as a stronghold, should the need arise for the Jews of Vilna to take refuge in it, at times of peril. At one time, it is known, people hid their valuables about the building, and this often incited robbery and hooliganism on the part of the populace. http://geoffreyshisler.com/the-cantors-review/great-synagogue-of-vilna/
Yeshiva in Volozhin
For most of the nineteenth century, the Volozhin (Bel., Valozhyn) yeshiva was the most important institution of its type in Eastern Europe. It was founded around the year 1803 by Ḥayim ben Yitsḥak, the leading disciple of the Gaon of Vilna. Ḥayim ben Yitsḥak’s fame attracted many youths to Volozhin, and when the small town could no longer support so many students, he established a yeshiva that provided subsidies to students. His success at dispatching fund raisers enabled him to build a private study hall that allowed the yeshiva to be both financially independent and physically isolated.Study in the Volozhin yeshiva took place 24 hours a day without vacations—a reflection of the view that the existence of the world depended on the study of Torah. Two heads of the yeshiva shared responsibilities, each lecturing three days a week. Ḥayim Soloveichik was the last and best known of these; he developed a very popular style of Talmud study characterized by deep analysis and a concern for basic principles.
Al Jolson from Seredzius
Al Jolson from Srednik (1886 – 1950) was known in the industry as “The World’s Greatest Entertainer,” for well over 40 years. After his death his influence continued unabated with such performers as Sammy Davis Jr., Elvis Presley, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Jackie Wilson and Jerry Lee Lewis all mentioning him as an inspiration. Jolson was born Asa Yoelson in Lithuania to Cantor Moishe Yoelson, who emigrated alone to Washington, DC, to establish himself. After four years he sent for his family. Nine months later his wife, Naomi, died (apparently during childbirth), which devastated the eight-year-old Asa. Young Al would soon find his outlet in the theater. Soon he was singing with his older brother, Harry, for senators and soldiers. He entertained the troops that were headed for the Spanish-American War.
Ninth fort monument in Kaunas
It is the biggest and the most significant memorial to the 30,000 Jews and others from Lithuania and abroad who were brutally murdered here during the Holocaust. It stands 32m high and at least three times as wide. The work of the sculptor A. Ambraziūnas, the monument was unveiled in 1984 on the site of the mass grave where the victims of the Nazis and their Lithuanian henchmen met their tragic fates.
St. Nicholas Church
This is the oldest surviving Catholic church in Lithuania, dating from the 14th century, First mentioned in 1387, it has retained its simple appearance, characteristic of the Early Lithuanian Gothic style. The interior decoration dates from the later periods: the 16th century ribbed vaults with colourful decoration are Gothic , while the altars and organ loft installed in the 18th century are Baroque. From 1901 to 1939 this was the only church in Vilnius where services werre held in Lithuanian. A sculpture of Vilnius patron saint, St Christopher, was erected in the churchyard in 1959 (sculptor A. Kmieliauskas).