Boston Center for Jewish Heritage, Inc
The Vilna Shul was built in 1919 by Jews from Vilna, in what is now Lithuania. It is the last intact example of over fifty synagogues that once flourished in Boston. Located on Phillips Street, on the north slope of Beacon Hill, this extraordinary building is modeled after medieval European synagogues. Yet it evokes the elegant simplicity of a colonial New England meeting house, synthesizing the old world with the new. Distinctive features of the two-story brick building are the multi-colored stained glass Star of David, the hand-stenciled art covering the walls and ceiling, and three skylights flooding the sanctuary with natural light and imparting a spiritual quality to the space.
The congregation was made up of men and women of modest means whose pride, persistence, and hard work helped make their families' hopes and dreams become reality.
Inside the Shul, members gathered to express their Jewish faith and traditions. They joined in prayer, provided a helping hand to those in need, and comforted the lonely. It was a place that provided continuity to their lives as they coped with a new world and new ways.
Over the years, the Vilna Shul became victim to changing demographics. The congregation dwindled to a single member and stopped conducting services in 1985.
The Boston Center for Jewish Heritage (BCJH) - www.BCJH.org - was formed in December of 1990 to acquire the Vilna Shul and to restore it as Boston's historic Jewish museum In January 1995, the BCJH acquired the building.
Havurah on the Hill was formed in 2001 by two young adults living in the Back Bay who were looking to build a local Jewish community in Boston. When they stumbled across the Vilna Shul, they immediately knew they had found the perfect combination of spirituality and history needed to draw young people. Havurah on the Hill held its first events at the Vilna Shul in the Spring of 2002.
Your donations help:
To support the operations of the museum especially exhibits and exhibit related materials.
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