The Belarus Shtetl, launched in 2020, is a digital initiative dedicated to preserving, disseminating, and rethinking the history and cultural heritage of the Jews of Belarus. In a larger perspective this multimedia exhibition emerges as a foundational element for the future digital Belarusian-Jewish Museum.
In Yiddish, "shtetl" means a small town predominantly inhabited by Jews, a characteristic feature of Eastern European landscapes before the Holocaust. It is a unique historical and cultural phenomenon and a testament to the coexistence of diverse ethnic groups, religions, and cultures. For centuries, Belarus was a land of shtetls, characterized by their distinctive cultural influence and shared identity.
The project includes meticulous reconstruction of several significant synagogues, realized through virtual reality technology. Representing different periods, territories, and architectural styles, it aims to vividly portray the architectural diversity of Belarusian shtetls.
Neglect of Jewish heritage and limited funding for traditional conservation in Belarus led us to innovative, cost-effective preservation solutions. With a focus on significant sites under existential threat or destruction, the project combines historical archival information and academic research with modern technologies and communication methods to promote this heritage in an accessible multimedia format.
Functioning on an international scale, the project establishes a connection between Belarusian Jewish heritage and global Jewish history, with the aim of elevating it from obscurity to its rightful place in the global cultural narrative.
The Belarus Shtetl project provides a versatile solution accessible in various formats, including VR tours through headsets, website browsing, or simply as a video.
«The reconstruction of the Slonim synagogue in a virtual environment is a unique experience of immersion in the cultural context, in which historical heritage and new technologies are combined into a single solution. Today, when virtual reality focuses more and more on the creation of fictional worlds and game heroes, the idea of the project organizers to recreate an authentic historical building has become a real discovery not only for the development team, but also for all the employees of the company».