Former Great Choral Synagogue

Synagogue Attractions

The history of the Minsk Choral Synagogue goes back to 1901. The initiator of the construction was the famous Minsk doctor – Joseph Lunts. The place for it was chosen next to a Jewish four-year school and a train station on Serpukhovskaya Street. Later, in 1922, it was renamed Volodarskiy Street, and in the future the synagogue would become one of the national theaters of the Republic of Belarus.

Image credit: The Together Plan – subject to copyright ©

The Minsk Choral Synagogue was built in 1901 on the initiative of Minsk Doctor, Joseph Luntz. The construction lasted for 5 years. Until 1921, the Choral Synagogue was the main synagogue in Minsk. At that time, half the population of Minsk was Jewish. In 1923, the Synagogue was used as a labour club, in 1924 as a Government Cultural House, and a movie theatre from 1926. The Belarus State Jewish Theatre was performing in the building in the 1930’s. The building was heavily damaged during the Great Patriotic War but was renovated in 1948-50. Since 1950, the building has been used as the Russian Theatre named after Maxim Gorky. The hall has incredible acoustics and many famous Soviet celebrities have performed here. The original facade was in the neo-Moorish style. The building consisted of two parts: one part was a portal decorated with window openings and semi-circular arches; the other part was a ritual hall itself. The original interior was colourful and richly decorated. Today the original facade is no longer visible, but if you walk down the side of the building the original neo-Moorish brick work can be seen.