Synagogue in Bytca Slovakia

Introduction

An organised Jewish community in what was to become Bytca was established in the second half of the 18th century and the community was to play a very influential role in the economic development of the region.  The impressive Bytca synagogue was built in 1886 reflecting a mix of Rundbogenstil and Moorish elements, with the funding for the construction mainly coming from local Jewish philanthropist Baron Leopold Popper. 

The synagogue served a Jewish community numbering around 750 and became renowned for the quality of its cantorial music.  The community came to an end in the tragedy of the Holocaust.

The Challenge

The synagogue remained abandoned and in a dilapidated state until a local Civic Action Group was formed to rescue the building.  This body has taken ownership of the site and is carrying out renovations. 

Given the very poor condition of the building, the Action Group faces a very substantial challenge and, while some funding has been received from the Slovak Government Department of Culture, the resources at its disposal remain limited. 

The Plan

The Action Group is working in partnership with the Municipality, the regional heritage office and the Slovak Government Department of Culture with the aim of fully restoring the building and turning it into a Museum presenting the Jewish life that once existed in the town, while also providing a library, coffee shop and cultural space for the local people of Bytca, visitors and descendents of Jews from the area.