Monday, May 4, 2009

Lithuania -- video of partly destroyed Pakruojis wooden synagogue

I want to attention readers to the comments below from Lithuania in response to this post -- the picture I had posted earlier was just a random shot, not the synagogue burning. Also, locals say this was the third attempt to torch the synagogue in recent months. Latest reports say about 1/3 not 1/2 of the building was destroyed.

My friend Ilya Lempertas in Vilnius, a Jewish historian and guide, has sent me a link to video on a Lithuanian news site that shows the fire damage Sunday to the historic wooden synagogue in the village of Pakruojis. The link to the video is THIS. But I've tried to embed it below (not totally successfully for some reasons). You may have to watch a brief commercial first, and at least on my computer the video is jerky, but it shows close-ups of the damage. Ilya says that according to reports from the scene, some 88 square meters of the roof as well as parts of the ceiling and walls were destroyed. A real tragedy.

This is the second historic synagogue in Lithuania to suffer destruction or serious damage in the past one and a half years. The so-called "Red Synagogue" in Joniskis collapsed in late December 2007. It had been undergoing fitful restoration (along with its "sister synagogue", the so-called "White Synagogue" standing next door to it), but one wall collapsed without warning.


  1. The picture above entitled "Firefighters at Pakruojis synagogue, May 3 2009" is not the picture of the actual Pakruojis synagogue burning, it is just a random picture that the Lithuanian media chose to illustrate one of the articles. Later reports said that only one third of the synagogue was destroyed by the fire, not half of it. It is the third attempt to alight the synagogue in the recent couple of years by the local youth.

    Comment from Lithuania

  2. LETTER FROM LITHUANIA: The picture above entitled Pokroy synagogue is just some random photo that was selected by the Lithuanian media to illustrate the fire. Later reports said that one third of the synagogue burnt down, not half of it. The locals comment that it has been already the third attempt by local youth to set the synagogue alight in the last couple of years and that the firemen are tired of fighting these fires, so they ‘let’ it burn and did not hurry to fight the fire. The police reported to have started a pretrial investigation. Of course, the locals know all the names of the youths involved, these guys are famous for drinking alcohol on the bench next to the abandoned synagogue every night, but the Lithuanian police will never find out who the culprits are… Ask any local old woman, they know everything.

  3. Thanks very much for these clarifications. I am changing the post to remove the picture. Please let us know any further details that emerge!