Restoration work on the synagogue in Březnice, Czech Republic (about an hour’s drive south of Prague) is nearing completion, as part of the nationwide 10 Stars project. Dedication is set for this coming autumn.
Jewish Heritage Europe coordinator Ruth Ellen Gruber recently visited the synagogue, which stands in the center of the larger of the two connected squares right off the main market that made up the Jewish ghetto.
The lay-out was based on an even ground-plan with two squares and two lanes and was a closed ghetto connected with the town only through one of the lanes with a gate that was formed by 21 – 24 houses. The biggest one of these is the so-called Popper´s Palace with an atrium. Despite the fact that today this closed-in lay-out of Lokšany is disrupted, it still represents an unique urban complex which is under the historical monument protection. The synagogue is located in the center of the larger square, the cemetery about 1500 m north from the main square. It was founded before 1617, some 200 tombstones are preserved, the oldest ones from the 17th Century.
The synagogue was built in 1725 and rebuilt in a classicist style after a fire in 1821. Uned as a warehouse after WW2, it was restituted to the Czech Jewish community in 1995 and stood empty since then.
The external renovation is nearly complete — although there is some question as to whether the newly painted bright orange color will remain or be replaced with a more subtle shade. The rundown buildings in the surrounding squares, some now used as apartments, will also be restored over time.
Inside, work is progressing on the sanctuary and the side rooms that will be used to house the exhibit.