Akhaltsikhe Synagogue

Akhaltsikhe Synagogue

Jewish people are thought to have first arrived in Georgia in the 6th century BCE, and over the 26 centuries they have notably participated in the country’s development.

Even though the largest part of the local Jewish communities repatriated in the second half of the XX century, nowadays several Georgian Jewish families still live in the town of Akhaltsikhe in Samtskhe-Javakheti Region.

In the Jewish quarter of Akhaltsikhe, there are two synagogues (upper and lower) and a large Jewish cemetery.

The inscription on the south wall of the upper synagogue of Akhaltsikhe informs us that it was built in 1862, making it the oldest surviving synagogue in Georgia.

Two Sefer Torahs (one of which was probably made 500 years ago) and many other historical items are kept here, which are considered religious treasures of southern Georgia.

The upper synagogue is active, however due to the small size of the congregation, services are not held every day. In the 1960s and 1980s, the Jews living in the Soviet Union were allowed to repatriate to Israel, but a few families remained in Akhaltsikhe.

Near the upper synagogue is a 400-year-old Jewish cemetery with more than 5,000 graves. Inscriptions written in Georgian and Hebrew are preserved on the tombstones, representing a clear example of Georgian-Jewish relations, coexistence, and mutual respect.

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