Foreword by David G. Roskies
Lithuania’s 100 or so surviving former synagogues are among a tiny handful of reminders of the country’s once large and diverse Jewish population, magnificent monuments of stone and wood that not unlike the people that once prayed and studied in them today lie neglected, abandoned and forgotten in towns, villages and cities from Alytus to Zarasai. With the help of little more than a cheap Latvian smartphone and a random cast of kind-hearted friends and strangers, in August 2017 the English documentary photographer and long-term resident of Lithuania Richard Schofield set off on a 12-day journey around the country to document these extraordinary—and extraordinarily tragic—buildings in a small act of personal remembrance as the nation approached the 100th anniversary of the re-establishment of its independence. Part road trip, part photographic essay and part love letter to one former synagogue in particular, Back to Shul is the singularly unorthodox result of an equally unusual journey.
Back to Shul is published independently by the International Centre for Litvak Photography and is available free of charge as both an online version and as a text-only PDF file that can be downloaded and read with any compatible device. Choose how you want to read it by clicking on one of the links below. We also recommend that you download the List of Buildings spreadsheet which gives a comprehensive overview of the condition and owners of every known surviving former Jewish house of worship in the country. Scroll down to view 100 fully captioned photographs from the journey.