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Restoration of Synagogues in Cental and Eastern Europe

zsinagoga honlap

Opening ceremony: 10 December 2019, 6 PM - The Great Synagogue of Brussels, 32 Rue de La Régence 1000 Bruxelles (access via 2 Rue Joseph Dupont)
The exhibition is open until 16 January 2020

COMPULSORY REGISTRATION:
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The exhibition presents a brief survey of synagogues converted into museums and galleries in Hungary, Austria, Bosnia‐Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Slovakia. A discussion on the topic will follow the opening with Professor Rudolf Klein, Natalia Romik, Polish researcher and Professor Thomas Gergely.

The event is organized in collaboration with the Great Synagogue of Europe, the Balassi Institute, the Polish Institute and the Austrian Cultural Forum.

Programme:

18h: Door opening

19h: Welcome speech by Maître Philippe Markiewicz, President of the Central Israelite Consistory of Belgium and the Israelite Community of Brussels.

Opening speech by Mr Szabolcs Ferenc Takács, Ministerial Commissioner, Head of the Hungarian Delegation to IHRA.

Opening speech by H.E. Mr. Tamás Iván Kovács, Ambassador of Hungary

Lecture (in English) by Professor Rudolf Klein: Restoration of synagogues in Central and Eastern Europe.

Musical interlude

Conference (in English) by Natalia Romik: (Post-) Jewish architecture of memory within the Eastern European shtetls. Art and architectural interventions.

Musical interlude

20h15: Conclusion by Professor Thomas Gergely.

ABOUT

The Jewish population of Europe was decimated by the Holocaust, and the subsequent emigration of the surviving Jews reduced their number radically. Moreover, even Jews who remained in the countries of their birth moved to major urban centres, leaving behind hundreds of synagogues and prayer houses, which fell into decay after World War 2.
Unlike in Germany and Austria, where the Nazis destroyed the vast majority of synagogues, in the countries of East‐Central Europe many synagogues survived the Holocaust. Dilapidated, they stood as mementos during communist times and even after the change of regimes. Some of them were destroyed in the intense urban development of the 1960s and 1970s, like the two great synagogues of Bratislava. Some crumbled because of negligence or the hostility of Communist party leadership, like the great synagogue in Debrecen or Szecheny (both in Hungary). Some were altered beyond recognition, as for instance the rare art nouveau synagogues in Vinogradov (Ukraine). In some major historic Jewish centres, like Prague‐Josefov or Krakow‐Kazimierz synagogues were more fortunate, being restored from the 1950s onwards, but these were the few exemptions and no the rule regarding synagogues that did not serve their original function.
In the 1970s some abandoned synagogues were cared for by local municipalities, and over the course of the subsequent three decades many of them have been rescued and adapted to secular use. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia were in the forefront in Europe in renovating and restoring these monuments to their former Jewish life. This endeavour peaked after the fall of the Berlin Wall, when domestic efforts were complemented more and more frequently by support from abroad, mainly from private foundations in the US and later with the support of the EU. With the rise of new democracies, there were shifts not only in quantity, but in quality too: restoration became more appropriate in function and accurate in terms of spatial arrangement, structures and details. Synagogues were converted into Jewish museums, Holocaust museums and memorials, concert halls, municipal cultural centres, galleries.

Prof. Rudolf KLEIN (1955), Dr. Eng., Dr. Phil., architect, is a theoretician and historian of 19th and 20th century architecture. His special interest is architecture created for or by Jews: Ashkenazi synagogues in Central and Eastern Europe, Jewish cemeteries, Jewish houses and quarters, Jewish/Judaic influence on architectural modernism, post-modernism and Deconstruction. He is author of nine and co-author of three books in the field of architectural history of modern times. He has published over 40 reviewed papers. He teaches at Szent István University, Ybl Miklós Faculty of Architecture, Budapest.

 

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