Slonim, Belarus


The new owner of the Slonim Synagogue

Ioanna Reeves of Saving Heritage

Literature and other forms of art is a huge instrument  when you educate children without boring school classes, they get knowledges instinctly and for a long while. My book of tales  is about fairy world where evil and kindness are the same thing but you must be a strong warrior to realise that and to handle. To most of My readers  stories are philosophical and I agree. My   point was to underline the importance of our nature. And importance of  a human in his acts for that. Some of the stories are like legends about rainbow, sun, wind.

Biography of the writer Ioanna Reeves

Ioanna Reeves is a writer, musician, teacher, and social  figure. She is fond of literary activities since her childhood. At the age of 6 she began to translate Shakespeare in the original, wrote poetry. The creative path began at the age of four, was closely associated with classical music and the art of performing. In recent years, the author has devoted herself entirely to literature, social activities, as well as the social interests of children and charity.

Ioanna became the winner of the 7th International Competition "Open Eurasia -2018" (London) in the nomination "Children Literature" and the owner of the special prize of the international literary competition "Keepers of Heritage in Action" in the nomination "For Spiritual Development and For Service to Russian Literature" (Israel) .

Her fairy tales have already been highly appreciated by the very first readers   from Russia, Germany, the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Poland, Spain, Belarus, England, Azerbaijan and Egypt, Iceland and Cyprus, Sweden and Tunisia, the Kingdom of Oman ,the United States of America and even by Pope Francis .In 2019, Ioanna presented her book  of fairy tales " The Children of the Sun" at The Great British Festival in Minsk. The author also held many charitable and social literary meetings for the children in schools, libraries and orphanages in Minsk in order to increase their interest to literature , reading  and the world of  art  .

Recently (2020) the author has launched  her  bilingual book "The Tales of the Lost Forest" and two parts of the alphabet  in verse form for  children learning English. The alphabet uses the associative method of child development through verbal and tactile presentation of material.

Currently  a novel in the genre of science fiction has been written, which the author plans to launch soon.


Slonim Synagogue

Copyright © 2021 by Ioanna Reeves

New owner - Saving Heritage

The synagogue building was abandoned for many years, so the role of the pandemic did not play a significant role on it. However, general restrictions in the field of tourism temporarily make it difficult for tourists to visit the monument. The conditions of fortnight quarantine or closed borders make it impossible for anyone interested in cooperation to visit the building. Many events dedicated to the preservation of cultural heritage worldwide have been canceled or are being held online, which certainly limits some of the possibilities for finding direct partnerships and attracting interest in the object.

Site History

The stone building of the Great Synagogue in Belarus ,Slonim  was erected with the permission of Vladislav IV  in 1642-1648. The country was a part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania that days. The Jewish community by that time numbered approximately 1000 people. The Slonim Oginski Theater  was founded before 1771, ceased to operate after 1791. It was  the court theatrical troupe of the great Lithuanian Hetman Michał Kazimir Oginski in Slonim.

 In 1795 Slonim became part of the Russian Empire and in  1812 during the retreat of Napoleon's troops, the Slonim battle took place between the Russian detachment of Major General E.I. Chaplitsa and the regiment of General Jan Konopka from the Napoleonic troops.

The synagogue was badly damaged in a  city fire in 1881. 75% of the city buildings was damaged. Immediately after the fire the community resumed the donations for  the synagogue but did it without the permission of the authorities. The synagogue was sealed by a police warden.

In 1883, the townspeople of Slonim appealed to the governor open a synagogue and allow to use  city funds  for "bringing this synagogue to its proper form. After that the synagogue operated until 1940.

 In 1915, during the First World War, the city was occupied by the Kaiser German troops and severely destroyed.In 1919 the city was occupied by the Poles and in 1921 it was taken over by Poland, becoming the center of the Novogrudok Voivodeship.

In 1939 Slonim and a number of other cities are part of the BSSR on the basis of the law “On the Admission of Western Belarus to the BSSR”.

During WW2 in the foyer of the building a German farm equipment company was opened. Most of machinery presented went to large farms that supplied produce to the German occupier. The director was an ill-tempered old German named Rick. Working for him as a bookkeeper was a Byelorussian named Sosnowski. The manager of the warehouse was a Tatar named Barionchik.Nonye Zirinski, a locksmith, got a job there assembling the machine parts for the customers.Nonye’s yellow armband which read “Locksmith for the Regional Kommissariat” gave him the privilege of walking through the city alone on his way to and from work. This was a very desirable situation for the partisans because Nonye  had the opportunity to contact people outside the ghetto and in the busy center of the town. Nonye hid the weapons in the synagogue and helped partisans.

Fascist invaders in Slonim in 1941-1944 created ghetto  for Jews and carried out terrible punitive operations, during which they killed thousands of innocent people.


After the war, the synagogue building was  adapted to different economic needs. The last thing that was in a unique monument of architecture and history - a warehouse of a furniture store. Since mid-90s. XX century the synagogue is empty.

Sincerely , 

Founder and CEO

Saving Heritage charity foundation 

Ilona Ioanna Reeves

Saving Heritage