Throughout central and eastern Europe religion was an important element in every day life for all communities.

Many took their ethnic identity from their religion rather than their nationality and the concept of the nation state was still in its infancy in those regions. Ethnic Poles were Catholics, Byelorussians were Orthodox Christians, the Muslims still identified as Tartars despite settlement in the region for a number of centuries. The Jewish community was no different and considered themselves Jews foremost.

Religion was a binding force and focus of community life for everyone. In Novogrudek the Jewish community was divided between a number of synagogues, all orthodox but encompassing a range of political beliefs. The Jewish community lived under the religious guidance of a number of famous and influential rabbis.

In 1905 Rabbi Jozef Yozl Hurvitz opened the famous Musar Yeshiva.