The Citadel Synagogue in Timisoara Romania

Introduction

The Jewish presence in Timisoara goes back as far as the 11th century.  The Jewish community was at its largest in the interwar period of the 20th century at over 12,000 representing 10% of the population at that time.  While the Jewish community suffered throughout World War 2, most survived the war and the dramatic decline in the community was largely a result of post-war emigration. Today the Timisoara Jewish community numbers around 700 and is impressively active and engaged in wider society.

The Citadel Synagogue was built between 1863-1865 in grand Moorish style and has remained one of the most distinctive and original buildings in the city.

The Challenge

The rapid decline in the Jewish community and the impact of Communist rule meant that the care and maintenance of the synagogue suffered until it was no longer safe to be used as a place for religious services.  This lack of use in itself led to further deterioration and there is now the need for extensive repairs both internally and externally.

The Federation of Jewish Communities of Romania (FEDROM) based in Bucharest has indicated it is willing to commit some funding to help stabilise the building but nothing more.  Far greater resources are required to secure the site and bring the synagogue back into use.

The Plan

The Timisoara Jewish community, working in co-operation with the Federation, is eager to restore what remains an iconic building in the city.  The plan is that, following such work, it will once again become the primary place for regular religious services and special community events, with the addition of a museum on the first floor which will present the history, heritage and contribution of the Jewish community.

Those behind the initiative have been encouragement by the fact that Timisoara has been chosen to be the European Capital of Culture in 2021, and there are also now direct flights between Timisoara and Tel Aviv.