A more that €1.5 million project to restore the derelict synagogue in Senec, Slovakia as a multi-function cultural center is (finally) now underway.
Officials formally kicked off work in a ceremony May 21. The project is funded by the Bratislava Self-Governing Region and is expected to be completed in 2020.
The reconstruction will include both the interior and exterior of the building, which was built in the last part of the 19th century and has stood vacant an derelict for decades after being used for storage after WW2. Listed as a cultural monument, it stands in a prominent spot on a main street.
In a statement, the region said the reconstruction will sensitively consider the landmark values of the building and its historical background. In the garden, an exhibition will present the discovery of valuable historical mikveh, and an exhibition presenting the Jewish heritage of the Bratislava region is planned in the former women´s gallery. An information point will also be built.
Besides the permanent exhibition the synagogue will regularly offer concerts, exhibitions, theatre performances, festivals, workshops, lectures, conferences and other public programs throughout the year.
"Although the former synagogue will be restored to serve as a venue for exhibitions, concerts and cultural events, we believe that it will be a place for dialogue of different cultures and religious traditions, pointing to the Jewish-Christian roots of our culture," Maroš Borský, director of Jewish Cultural Institute and the Bratislava Jewish Community Museum, told JHE.
He noted that various plans and ideas to preserve the building had been floated and discussed for around two decades to little effect.
"It has been 65 years since somebody did something to rescue the Synagogue, which is a national cultural landmark. That is why I am happy we are finally at the point of starting the reconstruction and soon life will return to the Synagogue again," Juraj Droba, chairman of Bratislava Self-Governing Region, said in a statement.
"We will establish a multi-cultural centre under the idea of trans-confesional cultural dialogue and a open a new cultural venue with a lot of high-quality art program," he said. "We will cooperate with significant cultural institutions both home and abroad and also with local communities and authorities.“