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Newly Renovated Synagogue in Žiežmariai

Žiežmariai's first synagogue was built 1690-96, and by the 19th century there were three. One of those built then has just been renovated, and turned into a cultural center.

In 1388 Grand Duke Vytautas granted privileges to the Jews of Trakai, who may have come centuries earlier. Relations between Christian and Jewish Lithuanians were generally “live and let live” -- with occasional serious problems, like the short-lived expulsion of Jews 1495-1503, done at least partly to wipe out debts to Jews -- until the mid-16th century, when Lithuanian nobility, newly able to take part in legislation, and concerned with mixing, issued the “Lithuanian Statute” of 1566; its paragraph 12:

"The Jews shall not wear costly clothing, nor gold chains, nor shall their wives wear gold or silver ornaments. The Jews shall not have silver mountings on their sabers and daggers; they shall be distinguished by characteristic clothes; they shall wear yellow caps, and their wives kerchiefs of yellow linen, in order that all may be enabled to distinguish Jews from Christians."

So Jewish Lithuanians historically didn't dress like ethnic Lithuanians, and kept mostly to themselves except for commerce? Thank 16th century Lithuanian nobles for setting the rules.



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