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Use our multimedia maps, and explore the family pictures, archival material, and personal stories of 21 Jewish Holocaust survivors to get a unique insight into Europe’s rich Jewish heritage, and to discover sites of Jewish life in towns in Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania.
The former Lemnaria Synagogue was constructed in 1835 and has been home to one of the city’s central synagogues for over 100 years. Today, only the facade of the original has been preserved. The seven-armed candlestick on the front of the house was only installed in the early 2000s. At that time, the building was run down and had to be completely rebuilt.
Once you pass the security gate, which is usually open, you find yourself in a courtyard from which you can enter the Chişinău Jacobs Jewish Campus. Since 2005, this modern building has been a central place of Jewish life in Moldova. It is the home of the Jewish community, and here you can also find the Jewish cultural center KEDEM as well as various Jewish charities and youth organizations.
In the political upheaval after 1990, non-profit organizations such as Hesed or the Joint played an important role. Like other interviewees, Shlima Goldstein shared with Centropa how Hesed and Joint have helped elderly people:
The only thing we are happy about is that Jewish communities have revived in Moldova since its independence. There are charity organizations: Joint and Hesed, they help us to have a decent life. We’ve come back to the observation of the Jewish traditions that we’ve known since childhood. We celebrate all Jewish holidays with our friends whom we meet in Hesed. Besides the material support we can also feel the closeness and support of Jews all over the world.
Bella Chanina, born in Chişinău in 1923, also illustrated how the Jewish Community Center with its many facilities has become so important especially for the elderly:
After Perestroika, the life of many pensioners became much worse. The special “personal pensions” was abolished, and so I lost all benefits and received only a very low pension. We spent a bigger part of our pensions on our apartment and medications.
But we were granted freedom that didn’t exist before, and we witnessed the rebirth of Jewish life in Chişinău. We opened a Jewish library and a community center. In 1993, I became one of the first members of a pensioners club that would meet in the Jewish library, and I also began volunteering for Yehuda, a charity organization in the Hesed.
In 1997 I became head of the “Warm House”. I am fond of this work. We celebrate all Jewish holidays and I try to do everything in accordance with Jewish traditions. On Pesach I put on the plates four pieces of matzah, with a napkin between them, an egg, horseradish and potatoes, everything that traditions require.
Since 2019, the building of the Lemnaria Synagogue has been used again as a prayer house: in the basement, where there used to be a mikveh, there is now a men’s and a women’s synagogue, right next to each other.
The synagogue hall was originally on the first floor of the building. Today this large room is used as a theater and a concert hall. In the lobby of the former synagogue there are some showcases with exhibits from the long history of the Jewish community, including the typewriter belonging to Ihil Shraibman, the well-known Yiddish writer.
When you leave the building and cross the street, you will see the entrance to the Jewish library. Here, a plaque commemorates Ihil Shraibman – who died in 2005. He is buried on the Jewish cemetery.