the great synagogue

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  • The Great Synagogue The Great Synagogue

  • The Great Synagogue was dedicated on Hanukka 1872. It stood at the beginning of the road, a large building, with a tin roof, arched windows with tinted glass; the doors were carved in oak. The interior was ornately decorated. The signs of the zodiac were painted on the ceiling, and a bronze candelabrum, lit by candles, hung on an iron chain.

    Carved wooden stairs led to the Ark of the Law, and to the raised Bimah, adorned by paintings of the four sacred animals, in the center of the prayer hall. The womens gallery surrounded the prayer hall on three sides.

    Many legends circulated about the synagogue that was located near the old Jewish cemetery, about Minyans of ghosts that took place after midnight, and kept the superstitious at a safe distance from the synagogue at night.

  • The wedding in the Jewish Cemetery During World War I the town suffered hunger and disease that first attacked the poor and needy, but did not spare the wealthy. Many died, and the undertakers were busy. Jews sat in the Great Synagogue and in the Shtibelach (small prayer houses) and study rooms (Beth Midrash) praying for the plague to cease. When their prayers were not answered, they decided to resort to the ultimate means, a custom of ancient times to have a wedding ceremony in the cemetery, believing that this would stop the plague. Once decided, they took immediate action. The mission was not simple, as both bride and groom had to be orphans, who have lost both mother and father, to strengthen the powers of the dead spirits. Fortunately such a couple was soon found, seeming to be destined for each other. Groups of benevolent women collected funds for the wedding feast, and everyone helped to prepare the ceremony. The entire community attended the occasion even the Christian neighbors. Everyone rejoiced with the newlyweds, escorting them to their home, singing and dancing. The Jews believed that this will stop the plague, and the plague stopped indeed !

  • During World War I the synagogue was desecrated and what remained of it stood empty and damaged.

  • The Synagogue of the Belz Hasidim Most of the Jewish population were Hasidim, and prayed in the small prayer houses of Belz, Husiatin, Radzin and others. They were constantly arguing whose Rebbe is greater. The Yeshiva students sat and studied and discussed various matters of life, of the town and their prayer house. The Rebbe of Belz Hasidim, 1936The Synagogue of the Belz Hassidim