Synagogues of Lodz

Main Synagogues

Smaller Synagogues and Prayer Houses

Synagogue on ul. Wolborska 20

The oldest synagogue in Lodz was the Orthodox "Altshtot" (Old Town) or "Stara" synagogue on ul. Wolborska 8. It was constructed entirely from wood. In 1860 to 1863, the synagogue was relocated to ul. Wolborska 20 (see map) and replaced with a new stone building designed by architect Jan Karol Mertsching (click here for photos and plan). Major renovation took place from 1897 to 1900, according to a design by well-known Lodz architect Adolf Zeligson.

Postcard of the "Stary Rynek" (Old Market Square) in Lodz, ca. 1916, with the synagogue on ul. Wolborska visible in the background

Jacob Warszawski was one of the founders of the synagogue. Benjamin Wiazowski (Wionzowski) was president of the synagogue. [contributed by Dr. Charles Silow, great-grandson]

"The synagogue was very tall and beautiful. It contained two women's galleries. In all, it held fifteen hundred seats. There were thirty-six Torah scrolls in the synagogue and a large amount of silver Torah ornaments, including many antique works of art. All official public ceremonies took place in this synagogue...

"The whole synagogue, with all its interior fixtures and Torah scrolls, was completely devoured by fire. All that remained was the western wall, which was shot to pieces by gunfire in April, 1940."

--from The Destruction of the Synagogues in Lodz, by Rabbi Shimon Huberband, 1909-1942.

The synagogue was burned on the night of November 15-16, 1939 during the Nazi occupation. No trace of the synagogue remains today. At present, the site consists of blocks of apartments.

Synagogue on ul. Spacerowa 2

The Reform synagogue on ul. Spacerowa (now Al. Kosciuszko 2, see map), known as the "Great" synagogue or "German Temple," dated from 1883 to 1887 and was the biggest structure in the heart of the city. Designed by either Adolf Wolff of Stuttgart or Hilary Majewski, it was an exact replica of the Königsberg Temple. The synagogue construction committee was formed in 1882 by wealthy Lodz industrialist Izrael Kalmanowicz Poznanski, who also oversaw its construction, which cost over half a million rubles. The brother of industrialist Dawid Prussak (1845-1909) was a founder of the synagogue.

Postcard photo of the "Great" Synagogue (right) on ul. Spacerowa

The synagogue was completely burned to the ground on the night of November 14-15, 1939, along with its Torah scrolls and interior fixtures. Today, the site is used as a parking lot: photo #1, photo #2.

See more pre-war photos: German Jewish soldiers gathered for prayers near the "Great" Synagogue in 1916 (during WWI), view 2 and close-up of view 2

Synagogue on ul. Zachodnia 56

The synagogue on ul. Zachodnia 56 (now ul. Zachodnia 70), was known as the Vilker shul.

"The Vilker shul was attached to a beys midrash (house of study) which contained an extraordinary treasury of Hebrew books. It was the largest place of Torah study in the city. There was a time when study in the beys midrash proceeded uninterrupted for twenty-four hours a day. For this purpose, there were special mishmorim (study groups) which altered periodically, to ensure that the place would not be without Torah study for a single second."

In early November, 1939 the Germans ordered representatives of the kehillah to arrange services with a cantor, choir, Torah-reader, and shofar, and call upon the Jewish population to attend the service.

"The event took place on Tuesday. The shul was packed with congregants wearing taleysim and tefillin. Cantor Winograd and his choir conducted the service. A large number of high-ranking German officers came and filmed the entire course of the service, immortalizing it on film. Cantor Winograd sang with the choir a number of selections from the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur prayers. After that, the order was given to take out the Torah scroll and read from it...The Torah-reader, a clever Jew, called out in Hebrew before beginning to read the scroll: 'Today is Tuesday.' This was meant as a statement for posterity that they were forced to read the Torah, since the Torah is usually not read on Tuesdays...

"In the second half of 1940, the Germans set fire to the interior fixtures of the Vilker shul, then dismantled the shul. The extraordinary treasury of Hebrew books, including literally thousands of rarities, was burned, and the Torah scrolls were sent off to an unknown destination."

--from The Destruction of the Synagogues in Lodz, by Rabbi Shimon Huberband, 1909-1942.

No trace of the synagogue remains today.

Synagogue on ul. Wolczanska 6

Postcard photo of the synagogue on ul. Wolczanska

The synagogue on ul. Wolczanska was also known as the "Ezras Izrael" Association (Jewish Aid) synagogue or "Wolynska." The property for the synagogue was purchased in 1899 by a group of Jewish merchants from Lithuania and Belarus (Litvaks). The synagogue building was constructed in 1899-1904 according to a design by Gustaw Lande-Gutenteger. Aleksander Poznanski, Abraham Prussak and the BELIN family were among the founders and Jozef Abram Dobrzynski (died 1902) was president of the Vilker shul.

In 1933, the board of the synagogue consisted of: Izrael Rubinsztajn, Ber Etkind, Jozef Mikulicki, Uszer Strokowski, Zelig Nesis, Eliasz Piechowicz, Izrael Menachem Bornsztajn, Izaak Borensztajn and Lejb Basz.

The synagogue was burned down on the night of November 10-11, 1939, and was combined with ill treatment of the Jewish clergy, as described in Itzchak Katzenelson's epic poem, "Song of the Murdered Jewish People" (see excerpt below). Rabbi Segal was ordered to tear up the Torah scrolls with his own hands. The remaining walls of the synagogue were demolished in March 1940.

"...The bullet hits the shammes in the leg 'And now - away from here Jew!'
The shammes is leading the rabbi, he limps, but tries to walk faster...
Yet the rabbi can only run around the bimah - and can barely walk.
The shammes leads him to the cracks of the riding whip...The measure hasn't filled up yet!
It hasn't been filled until they both have gone - look, in broad daylight
Smoke goes straight up into the sky, the fire flashed with flame in the covers of smoke!
The synagogue is burning! The house of God is on fire! Aron ha-kodesh! The Pentateuch rolls are burning!
The rabbi looks, the shammes holds him: Oh the measure...the measure is already filled."

-- from "Song of the Murdered Jewish People," by Itzchak Katzenelson

Synagogue on ul. Gdanska 18

The small synagogue at ul. Gdanska 18 (formerly ul. Dluga), known as the "Ohel Jakov" synagogue, was built in 1898, on a property already containing a large brick outbuilding and a front tenement house. Gustaw Landau-Gutenteger was the architect. Registered members of the synagogue consisted of approximately 100 smaller scale merchants and manufacturers, residents of the wealthier neighborhood. During World War I, the synagogue came under the influence of the Zionists and was considered to be an institution of the Lodz Organization of Zionists. Its members supported the Jewish National Fund and other Zionist institutions, such as the Jabne school, the Herclija nursery school, and the Helenowek orphanage (run by Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski). It was probably burned down by the Germans in 1939 and later demolished in 1940.

Synagogue on ul. Poludniowa 28

The single surviving synagogue of Lodz is located at 28 ul. Revolucji 1905 (formerly ul. Poludniowa 28), in the second internal courtyard. The synagogue was probably designed by Gustaw Lande-Gutenteger and dates from between 1895 and 1900. Despite the Nazis'
destruction of the main synagogues of Lodz in November 1939, this smaller synagogue probably survived because it was hidden in a corner of the ghetto and used as a storehouse for salt.

The synagogue was damaged by a fire in 1987. It was rebuilt with financial assistance from the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation in 1989, and in October of that year was formally reopened for the Jewish community's use.

The single surviving synagogue of Lodz

Photo courtesy of Howard L. Rosen z"l, 1998

Prayer House on ul. Piotrkowska 114/116

The former beit midrash (house of study) on ul. Piotrkowska 114/116 dates from 1899 and is currently undergoing restoration. It was originally used as a kosher poultry slaughterhouse.

Photo, 1998

Sources include:

  • Adelson, Alan and Robert Lapides, eds. Lodz Ghetto: Inside a Community under Siege. New York: Viking, 1989.
  • Walecki, Jacek. Synagogues and Prayer Houses of Lodz (to 1939). Lodz: Ibidem, 2000.


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