The Buildings of Worship
The Karaims pray in the places that have the role of a temple and are called kenesas. The altar of the kenesa is in its southern part (while burying also face the South). The walls and the ceiling of kenesa are usually decorated with geometrical and plant-growing ornaments. Like in other Oriental temple men and women pray separately. Everybody in kenesa must have head cover, the form of which is not fixed.
The oldest kenesa in Lithuania is in Trakai, Karaimu str. 30. The first kenesa was built here even in 15th cent. The building, like a present one, was wooden and it has burned down for a few times. In 19-20 cent. the building was reconstructed according to the project of Michail Prozorov. In 1997 the kenesa in Trakai was restored for the first time after the war, according to the project of the last reconstruction.
In Panevėžys in Sodu St. there was also a kenesa. Unfortunately, it was destroyed in 1970. Now only the memorable stone, which was erected for the money of Panevėžys City Council, reminds of it.
The most modern kenesa is in Vilnius (Liubarto str.6). It was started in 1911 according to M.Prozorov's project. October 30 th of the same year the foundation stone was consecrated. After two years the walls were built and the roof was put. Beginning of war stopped the finishing works that were renewed only in 1921. After two years, on September 9 th, 1923 this kenesa was consecrated. Owing to the charity of brothers Lopatto, the community centre was built near it, the same year.
In 1949 by the decision of the Board of religious cults at The USSR Ministers' Board the kenesa was closed. For 40 years it has been nationalised, it was first used as a kind of trust. Later it was used as geodesy service archives, people lived in it. In 1989 this kenesa again became property of the Karaim religious community in Lithuania and after five years of restoration it was reconsecrated.
In Lithuania some kenesas were also in Biržai and Naujamiestis. Next to them as a rule, there were the community centres where religious and language schools, meetings, parties, lectures and clubs took place. Priests lived there, too.
© Lithuanian Karaim Culture Society, 2016