Leova Synagogues

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Anyone who has read the novels of [travel writer Jean] Tharaud [1877 – 1952] would expect to find Leova full of bearded Jews, their temples covered with curls, their heads shaved and covered with a velvet cap. If such customs ever existed here, they no longer do. Men and women follow the fashion of Bucharest and Paris. Religious life is not very intense; however, it is unusual to find among adults someone who has entirely abandoned the Law of Moses. This law, precise regarding daily life and culinary practices, is accommodated with a simple yearly visit to the synagogue. The synagogue is also a symbol of solidarity throughout the whole community, religious or not, against the potential Christian enemy. There are four synagogues: two for the rich, where one must pay for membership, Die Groisse Schil and Dus Bessmedresch; and two for the poor, Schnadersche Schil, the Synagogues of Tailors. Democracy reigns under the sign of David.

The 1942 list of confiscated property and the Michel Roblin's map (more of a rough sketch than a map) help us locate three of Leova's four synagogues.  

1942 list of confiscated property

  • Die Groisse Schil (the Great Synagogue) still stands today.  The photos below are from May 2013.  The former synagogue is now used as sports school, but a look inside reveals that not much has changed since 1941.  The balcony that served as the ezrat nashim (woman's area) is still intact, as is an impressive domed ceiling.  If you are visiting Leova the easiest way to find this building is go to the western end of Independentei >Street where you will find the House of Culture.  The sports school is just next door
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Click photo to enlarge
  • Dus Bessmedresch also still stands, but it has been substantially remodeled over the years.  Most notably the arcade has been removed and the windows and doors replaced.  It is barely recognizable from its previous state, but one thing that is the same is that it is still a house of worship.  Today the building houses a Pentecostal congregation.  Also the name of the street on which it is located is again "Stefan Cel Mare", one of the few streets in Leova that was restored to its pre-WWII name following independence.
Click photo to enlarge
Click photo to enlarge
Click photo to enlarge
  • Schnadersche Schil (Tailors' Synagogue) on Oituz Street (now Dosoftei Street) apparently no longer exists. While Michel Roblin's map  is imprecise, it appears to place this Synagogue about a block and a half south of Traian (Independentei) Street.   A visit to this location in May 2013 revealed nothing that looked like it could have served as a synagogue.
  • The second Schnadersche Schil was not indicated on Roblin's Map, nor on the 1942 list of Confiscated Property.  Fortunately the Central Archive for the History of the Jewish People (CAJHP) in Jerusalem holds a document concerning the 1945 nationalization of a synagogue in Leova.  The document placed the synagogue on a street then named Pogranichnaya (Border) Street.  Some research revealed that the name of this street was changed after 1991 independence to Granicerilor (Border Guard) Street, which is in the north west part of town. This part of town is outside the area depicited in Roblin's map.  The nationalization document described the building as being made of stone, with a capacity of 100 people. Unfortunately, today there are no buildings on Granicerilor Street fitting this description.

1928 newspaper articles report on Torah scroll desecration in Leova: Dec 14, 1928 (1.1 MB) | Dec 18, 1928 (1.1 MB)

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Compiled by Joel D. Waters
Copyright 2010-2022 Joel D. Waters

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