Former synagogue, currently abandoned, Milejczyce
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Former synagogue, currently abandoned

Milejczyce

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The synagogue in Milejczyce remains one of the few surviving masonry structures of its kind in the Podlaskie province, dating back to the first half of the 20th century. The building presents a significant artistic value due to the fact that, despite its relatively austere architectural form, it features some rather intriguing detailing. It also remains important from a historical perspective, serving as a testimony to the existence of the once-thriving Jewish community.

History

The existing building was erected in 1927, replacing an earlier, wooden synagogue dating back to 1857. A Jewish cemetery is known to have existed in Milejczyce as far back as 1865. In 1878, 627 out of the 1588 local residents were Jews. In 1921, the local Jewish population, at 648 out of 1180, amounted to more than 50% of all the town’s residents. The synagogue was most likely erected in two stages, as evidenced by its silhouette, consisting of two distinct sections, as well as by the separation of the prayer hall and the annex. Inside, apart from the prayer hall itself, there was a Jewish community council meeting room as well as the offices of the synagogue administration and the qahal court, all of them situated inside the spacious annex. The synagogue continued to serve its original function right until 1941. After World War II, the building became a local cultural centre. The former prayer hall served as a cinema, while the former qahal court became a library. In the 1980s, the building underwent renovation works which, at that point, were necessary due to its poor technical condition; once the works were complete, the building began to serve as a local Community Centre. Today, the building, owned by the Milejczyce community council, remains abandoned.

Description

The building is located in the centre of the village, on the eastern side of the provincial road no. 693 and on the northern side of Parkowa street. The building was designed on a rectangular floor plan and features a compact, cuboid silhouette, with one-third of the edifice (the western section with the former qahal court, later converted to serve as a library) being a two-storey structure, while the rest is a single-storey structure, its height being equal to the two-storey section (the eastern section with the former prayer hall, later used as a movie theatre); the entire building is covered with a hip roof. It is a masonry structure with exposed red brick walls, its foundations made of brick and stone. The roof is clad with sheet metal. The façades of the synagogue follow a six- and seven-axial layout respectively. The front, southern façade is topped with a corbelled cornice, with the remaining façades featuring a profiled cornice instead. A row of circular medallions made of slightly projecting bricks can be seen above the tall, rectangular windows of the former prayer hall which had originally been topped with semicircular arches. The southern façade, on the other hand, features decorative flourishes in the form of a Star of David and the date of construction of the synagogue. A three-pronged brick roof parapet projects from the surface of the roof above the front façade.

The building can be viewed from the outside.

compiled by Grzegorz Ryżewski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Białystok, 13-11-2014.

Bibliography

  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, vol. XII, Województwo białostockie, issue 1, Siemiatycze, Drohiczyn i okolice, compiled by Kałamajska-Saeed M., Warsaw 1996, p. 42.
  • Record sheet, Milejczyce. Dawna bóżnica, ob. Gminny Ośrodek Kultury, prepared by Cybulko Z. 1994, archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Białystok.
  • Wiśniewski T., Bóżnice Białostocczyzny, Białystok 1992, pp. 174-175.

General information

  • Type: synagogue
  • Chronology: 1927 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Parkowa 1, Milejczyce
  • Location: Voivodeship podlaskie, district siemiatycki, commune Milejczyce
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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