Programme of the Synagogue

 

Synagogue of East-Central Europe 1782-1944

Documentary exhibition

6 September - 18 October 2015, opening on 6 September at 11:00

»The history of synagogues in East-Central Europe is not merely an academic question. It is also not a dry chapter of the history of architecture but a relatively vivid witness of the cultural interactions between the Jews and numerous ethnic groups and non-Jewish religious communities in an specific area … Synagogues embodied hope and faith in a more progressive, more reasonable and more righteous world.« (Rudolf Klein)

The documentary exhibition by Rudolf Klein represents both preserved and disappeared synagogues in the area of Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania, the typology of their architectural traits and their integration into time and space.

In the lives of Jews living in diaspora, the synagogue has a central position. It is not only a place of the God’s presence but a place for gatherings of the community members, a place of prayer and a house of learning. As a type of building, it most probably originates from the time of Babylonian exile when the Jews could no longer visit the Temple of Solomon. The typological development of synagogues in East-Central Europe from the late 18th Century to the Holocaust was connected with a gradual improvement of the social situation of the Jews living in this area. Thus, for example, in the 18th century, synagogues were built in courtyards and far away from settlement centres, while after 1840 when the Jews were also allowed to settle in free imperial cities in the Habsburg Monarchy without restrictions, they were gradually being built closer to the land margin, closer to the street and from 1880, they already dominated their immediate surroundings. During this time they also lost their prior codification and became a free combination of compositional and stylistic elements with various construction systems. They differed in size, position and their relation to the environment. Their formal varieties mirrored the individual expression of the communities who built them.

During the Second World War and after, many synagogues, shown in the exhibition, were destroyed, and among those preserved today many are intended only for cultural use. Regardless of whether the synagogues are in ruin or can be admired renovated to their former beauty, they extremely touchingly testify to the onetime glory of a tragically destroyed culture and remind us of the immensity of its loss.

With the opening of this visiting exhibition, the project European Days of Jewish Culture 2015 officially began in Slovenia. This year it was dedicated to the topic “Bridges”. In Slovenia, the project was held from 3rd to 29th September in Maribor, Murska Sobota, Lendava, Negova and Ljubljana. At the opening, the gathered audience was addressed by Mr Szabolcs Takács, State Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office of Hungary and Ministerial Commissioner in charge of the IHRA presidency, and Dr. Sašo Gazdić, Head of the Office for Cultural Diversity and Human Rights at the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia. Visitors were also addressed by Dr. Smiljana Knez, Head of the Sector for Human Rights at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia and head of the Slovenian delegation to IHRA.

After the opening, at 11.30 there was a Klezmer music concert performed by Zoltán Neumark (piano) and Judit Klein (vocal).

 

The project was prepared in cooperation with the Embassy of Hungary in Slovenia. It was supported by the Municipality of Maribor and the Republic of Hungary which is presiding over the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) during 2015.


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