Restoration work on the magnificent Zion Neolog synagogue in Oradea, Romania has been completed and the Moorish-style synagogue, a towering landmark on the bank of the Cris River in the city center, will be rededicated this week in two ceremonies — one on November 26 in Oradea and one on November 28 in Debrecen, Hungary, just across the border.
The dual-venue, dual-country celebration is because the synagogue was restored as part of a cross-border project funded by a more than €1.41 million grant from the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), aided by a further €400,000 from the Budapest Management Authority. The project mandated the restoration of two historic synagogues — the Zion synagogue and the Kapolnas street synagogue in Debrecen— and their incorporation into religious tourism itineraries and cultural and educational programs.
The restored Kapolnas synagogue in Debrecen, still used by the local Jewish community, was rededicated last year.
Built in 1878 for the Neolog community, the Zion Synagogue was designed by David Busch, at the time the town’s chief municipal architect. It has a square plan, marked by tall windows and a huge, soaring dome. The interior decorations were desgined by the artist Mor Horovitz artist from Kosice, now in Slovakia.
Though listed as a historic monument, It had long been out of use and in deteriorating condition. It will now be used as a multi-purpose hall to host exhibitions, book launches, concerts, and other events.
There are five other synagogues in Oradea – the local Jewish community is situated in a complex that includes two orthodox synagogues, both of which also have been undergoing renovation, and three other synagogues in town are disused.
Here’s a video of the interior of the dome, after the scaffolding was taken down in July