Zavl Shul Design Concepts

You’re invited to a sneak-peak of the newly renovated Zavl synagogue located at Gėlių street no. 6, Vilnius. at 4:00 P.M. on Sunday, October 1, 2017.

The synagogue on Gėlių street is one of only eight such buildings which survive in Vilnius. It is currently undergoing extensive restoration work.

We have brought together a team of young designers to address some important issues concerning the re-emergence of the building into the life of 21st-century Vilnius. It likely will play a role in the continuity of Jewish life in the city, but so far its future function hasn’t been determined.
The designers come from different backgrounds and have different ideas about “what design can do.” Most are alumni from the Vilnius Academy of Arts and six studied at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, one of the world’s leading institutions for critically examining the role of design in society. Two Eindhoven graduates previously studied in Israel.

The presentation on Sunday will consist of ideas, associations and suggestions, not definite projects. They are all connected to the long history of the building and the Jewish presence in Lithuania but they are not intended as memorials. Instead, the presentations are intended to serve as a jumping-off point for future projects dealing with issues facing many communities in a globalized world: how to weave strands of culture, tradition, heritage, religion, identity and history into the fabric of contemporary life.

The presentation starts at 4:00 P.M. at Gėlių street no. 6, Vilnius.

We would very much appreciate your presence.

Koen Kleijn, Design Academy Eindhoven
Vytautas Gečas, Performance Design Association, Vilnius
Martynas Užpelkis, Lithuanian Jewish Community


Zavl’s Kloyz

The synagogue on Gėlių street dates back to 1817,when the wealthy merchant and philanthropist Shmuel Zanvil, son of Pesah Germaize and known as Reb Zavl, first established a prayer house in a wooden building on the site.

In 1817 this building burnt down. A year later Zavl Germaize and his son-in-law David Levinson donated the whole courtyard to worshippers who promised to build there “a prayer house with a kloyz,” a synagogue with a “closed” center for continuous prayer and study. Zavl Kloyz quickly assumed a place of prominence among the synagogues of Vilnius. In 1921 Khaykl Lunski called it “one of the largest and most important” kloyzn in Vilnius. In 1916 there were 120 regular worshippers, whose number increased to 192 by 1923. In addition, the kloyz owned a building at Sodų street no. 5 which provided income for the upkeep of the kloyz.

The synagogue was renovated and expanded in 1892 and 1893 and again in 1896. It operated until 1940. After World War II it housed storage facilities, apartments and a bakery. Since 1990 it has stood empty.

With support from the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture and the Goodwill Foundation major restoration work is now underway. Work on the exterior of the building is nearly complete, while the interior still requires major reconstruction.

Contributing designers:

Agne Kucerenkaite –
Austėja Šeputė –
Dion Soethoudt –
Erez Nevi Pana –
Gali Blay –
Kotryna Butautytė –
Marija Puipaitė –

Project management:

Vytautas Gečas
Koen Kleijn

Support from:

Lithuanian Council for Culture
Lithuanian Jewish Community
Performance Design Association
Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum
Design Department, Vilnius Academy of Arts