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      Date Last Updated: 25-Feb-2022



By Esther (Herschman) Rechtschafner

Chabad was strong in Vitebsk and many of the important Rabbis there, were Chabad. The strong influence of Chabad was already felt at the end of the 18th century.1 Important Chabad Rabbis in the city were Rabbi Shneur Zalman MiLadi, Rabbi Michael David, Rabbi Dover Schneerson, Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac, Rabbi Joseph Isaac, Rabbi Yekutiel Zalman Landau, Rabbi Zalman Austrovner, Rabbi Zalman Neimark, Rabbi Mordechai Schnerson, Rabbi Yehuda Lieb Schnerson.2

An advertisement, dated January 30, 2021 from the "local outlet People’s News of Vitebsk " was found and it contained the following information " City of Vitebsk offers dilapidated building used by painter and his family for a nominal fee, but new owners will need to preserve its walls and restore architecture. " According to this internet article this refers to Great Lubavitch Synagogue where Marc Chagall's family worshipped. Here is a photograph of how it then looked:

The future owners of the synagogue, whose remnant walls are listed as a cultural monument, need to preserve those walls and restore the 19th-century building’s architecture, though it does not need to serve as a synagogue.3

The original building was completely destroyed during the Communist regime, after having many various uses.4 Rabbi Yitchak Kogen oversaw the restoration project, after the approval from the government and collaboration with the local Jewish community. His family had roots in Vitebsk, and he is now the Rabbi of the Chabad ‘Bolshoi Bronia’ Synagogue in Moscow.5

The Chabad ‘Bolshoi Bronia’ Synagogue in Moscow and the Moscow-based Shemini Foundation, succeeded in restoring the long-ruined building back to its original appearance. It will be used both for worship and as a visitors' attraction.

The price was €9; but after interest in restoring the building was expressed, the building was donated to the Jewish community in Vitebsk.6 This past summer, on Shabbat Nachamu7, the ancient Chabad Synagogue was restored years after it had been originally founded.

The original Parochet and Torah mantel were found.8

Hundreds of people were present at the inauguration There was a very festive Shabbat and on Sunday, with more distinguished Rabbis and local officials present9, and the final letters of a new beautiful Torah scroll were written. There was a parade in the area and the streets were secured by Belarussian police.

This event impressed the local Jewish community very much.10

1 Encyclopedia Judiaca, Keter, Israel, 1972, Editor- Cecil Roth, V 16, p.191

2 Vitebsk Memorial Book, Vitebsk, Organization of the People of Vitebsk and the Vicinity in Israel, 1957, Editor Moshe- De Shalit, pps181-190





7 The Shabbat after Tisha Bi Av-July 28,2023: