VR-TOUR AND RECONSTRUCTION OF THE WOLPA SYNAGOGUE

Multimedia exhibition Belarus Shtetl
More about the project
[ about ]
For centuries, Belarus was home to a network of Jewish shtetls - small towns where Jews were often the majority of the population. These towns were vibrant centers of economic, spiritual, and communal life. The inhabitants mostly spoke Yiddish, yet shtetls were also important places of interaction with non-Jews.
Synagogues were an essential part of every shtetl, being not only places of worship, but also communal centers for assembly and education. One of them, the Wolpa synagogue, is considered to be among the most beautiful wooden synagogues ever built. It was destroyed by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
BELARUS SHTETL
Wolpa, situated in present-day Belarus, is a village with a history dating back to the 15th century when it was first documented as a small town in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. As time progressed, Wolpa became part of the Kingdom of Poland, and of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the late 16th century. The Great Synagogue is believed to have been constructed in Wolpa in the first half of the 18th century.

For more than two centuries, it stood as a focal point for the local Jewish community, serving as both a religious and social hub. Recognized as one of the most significant wooden synagogues in Eastern Europe, it played a crucial role in shaping the cultural identity of the region.
[ exhibition object ]

VR-TOUR AND RECONSTRUCTION

The spectacular Wolpa synagogue, adorned with paintings and architectural details, has been meticulously recreated in a virtual space by a team of curators, historians, restorers, and digital artists. We invite you to embark on a fascinating journey to rediscover this lost Jewish cultural site.

The project is available in VR and web formats, offering visitors the opportunity to delve into the past and immerse themselves in the historical context through guided tour or free movement. Both options allow for exploration of the building using navigation and points of interest, enabling a detailed examination of the interior and exterior, along with comprehensive descriptions of specific elements. The guided tour includes a brief overview of the synagogue's history and a virtual visit to the building in its original appearance.
During the research at the pre-production stage, it was discovered that the synagogue underwent a major renovation in the 1920s. The team engaged in a thorough study of surviving photographs to reconstruct every intricate detail of the interiors, capturing nuances that distinguish the two distinct interior versions. As a result, you can witness the synagogue's transformation over the years, reflecting the evolving times and the development of a local community.

At the end of the session, visitors can "switch" into real-time and see the physical location where the Wolpa synagogue once stood.
[ explore ]
WEB-TOUR
Project curator: Grigoriy Kheifets
Expert support: the Center for Jewish Art at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Interior restoration: creative workshop Bastalia, Belarus
Technical development: Exposit company
Sound production: Radio Plato


PROJECT ORGANIZERS
Belarusian-Jewish Cultural Heritage Center
Supported by the Museum of Jewish Art and History of Judaism in Paris
Supported by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs
PROJECT PARTNERS