Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Slovenia: New Exhibition on Jewish Heritage in Slovenia to Open in Maribor Synagogue

Maribor, Slovenia. Medieval synagogue restored as museum and cultural center.
Photos courtesy of Kulturni Center Sinagoga Maribor.

Slovenia: New Exhibition on Jewish Heritage in Slovenia to Open in Maribor Synagogue

by Samuel D. Gruber

On September 6, 2009, the occasion of the European Day of Jewish Culture a new exhibition on the Jewish heritage of Slovenia will open in the restored medieval synagogue of Maribor. According to researcher Janez Premek a major part of the exhibition is based on research carried out by Ruth Ellen Gruber and myself in the 1990s and first published in 1996 (updated 2005) in a report by the US Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad. The exhibition will open at 11 in the morning on the 6th, and Premk will give a tour of the exhibition at noon as part of the opening ceremonies.

At that time the first release of the US Commission sponsored survey (1996) the government of Slovenia pledged to produce a book or booklet using this material to present and promote the Jewish history and sites of Slovenia – something that never came to pass. Meanwhile, the former medieval synagogue in Maribor has been restored and developed as a center of Jewish culture. It is appropriate that this exhibition be held in this space, and I hope that something lasting – in print or on line – comes of Janez’s efforts. He tells me that in recent years some additional site have been identified, and (partly through his efforts) more archival materials relating to the Jewish history of the region have been found. Dr. Premk tells me that there is a project in the planning stage to create an Institute for Jewish Studies in Maribor, perhaps as early as 2010. When I learn more about this, I will report more in detail.

The Maribor synagogue is one a handful former medieval synagogues that have been rediscovered and redeveloped in the past decade. This building, probably originally a double-nave synagogue similar in plan to those in Worms, Prague and Vienna, also served for many centuries a church after the expulsion of the Jews from Maribor in 1493.

Top: Piran, Slovenia. Zidovski trg., Bottom: Koper, Slovenia. Former Zidovska ulica.
Photos: Ruth Ellen Gruber/U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad (ISJM archive).

Other events will take place in Slovenia on September 6th in Lendava, where the former 1866 synagogue (now a cultural center) will be open with a small exhibition. There will also be tours of the Jewish history and sites of the town.

Lendava, Slovenia. Former Synagogue, now cultural center. Photos: Lendava municipality (posted on web at time of Center inauguration, link now dead).

For the most complete account of Jewish heritage sites in Slovenia see the jewish-heritage-europe.eu Slovenia page.

For more on the Maribor synagogue and cultural center see also:

Kulturni Center Sinagoga Maribor
(Maribor Synagogue Cultural Centre)
Židovska Ulica 4
2000 Maribor

For links to events in other countries click here.

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