Oni Synagogue

Oni Synagogue

In Oni city, in the Racha region, there is a synagogue, similar to the synagogue in Warsaw, which was destroyed during World War II. This square, domed synagogue was built in 1895 and has an interesting story to tell.
Racha-Lechkhumi & Kvemo Svaneti

Oni Synagogue history and structure

The building project was brought to Oni by Rabbi Elia Amshikashvili, who studied in Warsaw. When he was offered work in Europe, he refused, saying, “I have such faithful people in Georgia, I can't leave them;  they have faith, but they don't have a temple.”

Influential Jews did not ignore this and started collecting money to build the synagogue. Among the financiers were the Nobel brothers, who owned a significant share in the oil business of Batumi and Baku.

The synagogue was built with white limestone and plain rock stone and decorated with ornaments and figures. It has a marble slab with a Hebrew inscription at the entrance with the stars of David above it, and the "Ten Commandments" engraved in Hebrew on the eastern wall.

In the 1920s, during the communist era, orders were given to demolish the Oni synagogue, but Amshikashvili, together with his family, locked himself inside. Jewish and Georgian women, with babies in their hands, surrounded the synagogue and by risking their lives, didn’t allow to destroy the building.

Today, the Oni Synagogue carries a status of a cultural monument of national importance.

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