THE BUILDING’S HISTORY:
The Multicultural Centre was established in 2002 in the restored former small winter synagogue of the 19th c.
A synagogue (Gr. synagoge – a meeting, congregation) means meeting and the Jewish temple, serves the following three purposes: religious services, studies and community meetings.
The heated Small winter synagogue of the great Beit Midrash (studies house) was built by the Great synagogue (in which Kėdainiai Art school is currently located) from 1837 to 1857. The building has 12 windows, in the western side there is a porch, from which one can enter the men’s hall in the ground floor and a gallery of the first floor, dedicated for women. The main premise in the synagogue is a men’s prayer hall; there, the most important thing is Aron Kodesh and a place of Bimah between four large columns. Alongside the Small synagogue there also was a building, which housed a prison and was a living place for a shochet – a ritual slaughterer. A white gate with a sundial leading to the synagogues yard, connected this house and the Small synagogue. This way a complex of three buildings was formed. Unfortunately, the slaughterer’s house and the gate were destroyed during the World War II and the Soviet period. Only both synagogues – the Great summer and the Small winter synagogues – survived to our day.
The Small winter synagogue was heated; its interior was modest.
On this building, in 2023 a memorial plaque reminding in three languages – Lithuanian, English and Hebrew – the fact that Kėdainiai had become refuge of Mir Yeshiva, was unveiled. In a background of confusion and cruel acts during the World War II, for a short period Kėdainiai became refuge for Mir Yeshiva, a leading Judaism spiritual academy.
ACTIVITY OF THE MULTICULTURAL CENTRE:
The key activities of the Multicultural Centre: arranging of concerts of chamber, choral and jazz music, organising of art exhibitions of professional and amateurs’ artists. Conducting educational activities, presenting culture and history of nations that lived in Kėdainiai and Lithuania, paying particular attention to the Jewish heritage and education about the Holocaust.
In 2004, at the initiative of the International commission for the evaluation of the crime of the Nazi and Soviet occupation regimes in Lithuania the Commission and the Multicultural Centre concluded a contract establishing Tolerance Training Centre. It was a beginning of a nice process and within a few years Tolerance Training Centre were established in many schools of Kėdainiai district, which cooperate with the Multicultural Centre organising various events, commemoration of memorable days, actions and participating in projects. The Multicultural Centre maintains close relations with history teachers of Kėdainiai town and district secondary schools, which participate with their students in events and educational programmes organised by the Multicultural Centre.
Thanks to the project implemented this year ‘Modernisation of the Multicultural Centre of Kėdainiai Regional Museum’, in February 2023 the Multicultural Centre opens its doors for visitors after modernisation, with acquired necessary equipment and with a new interactive and modern exposition ‘Ich bin Keidaner’ presenting Kėdainiai Jewish community history.