Georgia / North of Georgia

Oni

Oni’s synagogue

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Oni’s museum

26 Rustaveli, Oni, Géorgie

Oni’s synagogue © Dato Rostomashvili – Flickr

In the north of the country, the city of Oni, about 200 kilometers from Tbilisi, is home to a wonderful  synagogue, in excellent condition, located on Baazovi Street. Built in the 1890s according to the plans of an architect from Poland and Jewish workers from Salonika, this beautiful Moorish-style building housed the third largest community in the country after Tbilisi and Kutaisi in the early twentieth century.

According to an ancient legend of Georgian Judaism, one of the stones of the Second Temple of Jerusalem, would have been scattered in the air after its destruction in 70, and would have landed in the Caucasus Mountains, in Oni. It was at the place where it crashed that the synagogue was built. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the rabbi of Oni was none other than the famous David Baazov. This is where his son Hertzel Baazov was born. The famous writer, was executed for dissent in 1938.

Interior of the Oni synagogue with a ceiling full of colors
Oni Synagogue. Photo by Susan Astray – Wikipedia

Strongly damaged during the 1991 earthquake, the synagogue of Oni has since been the subject of a major restoration. It should be noted that while most of the Oni churches were destroyed during the Soviet period, the synagogue, thanks in particular to a strong mobilization of the inhabitants of Oni and the Jews of Tbilisi was totally spared. It is no longer used in its religious functions but can still be visited: if you are in the region, do not hesitate to go there, the trip is really worth it. If it is closed during your visit, inquire at the nearby  Oni Museum.,

Oni also has nowadays a poorly maintained Jewish cemetery, located about 500 meters north of the synagogue, a little further up Baazovi Street.