Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Europe: Anniversaries of Budapest and Sofia Synagogues Celebrated

Budapest, Hungary. The Dohany Street Synagogue restored. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber, 2005.

Budapest, Hungary. Before and after pictures of the Dohany facade.
Photos: Samuel D. Gruber 1989 and 2005.

Europe: Anniversaries of Budapest and Sofia Synagogues Celebrated

Ruth Ellen Gruber has written for the JTA about the Dohany Street Synagogue in Budapest and the Great Synagogue in Sofia on the occasion of gala celebrations of their respective anniversaries. The Dohany Street Synagogue celebrates its 150th birthday, and the Great synagogue in Sofia is 100 years old. Rudolph Klein, who recently published a new book about the Dohany has supplied photos of the ceremony. Click here for Ruth's blog and Klein's and pictures.

Here are some additional pictures from from my archive taken in July 1991 when the restoration was just getting underway.

At that time it wasn't clear how much work had to be done and who would pay for it. Eventually the Hungarian government picked up most of the tab - probably close to $10 million dollars. When others claim credit, don't believe it. Give credit where credit is due! At the time I think this was the largest government commitment to a Jewish heritage restoration project ever...even more than the Dutch donation to the restoration of the Esnoga (to which many foundations and individuals also contributed). The Sofia synagogue had a harder time getting money. But eventually it too, has been successful. Both capital cities now boast splendid religious, cultural and ceremonial centers.

Sofia, Bulgaria. Great Synagogue. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber, 2006.

In Budapest, attention now turns to the Rumbach Street Synagogue. Restoration of the important Otto Wagner designed Moorish-style synagogue was interrupted in the early 1990s. Now the Hungarian Jewish Community has prepared an ambitious plan for the building, including the creation of new and expanded Jewish Museum and educational center. I'll write more on this later this fall.

No comments: