Good news from the Czech Republic — after 10 years of work, restoration of the synagogue in the town of Loštice has been completed, a milestone celebrated with a gala event on October 5. (The main restoration was completed in 2011.)
The synagogue, built in 1805-6, was used by the Nazis as a warehouse. It became a municipal museum in 1958 and is owned by the city today. It is used now as a cultural and educational center run by Respect and Tolerance, a foundation dedicated to documenting, researching and teaching about Jewish history and culture in northern Moravia, which oversaw the renovation.
A permanent exhibition about local Jewish history and the Otto Wolf Library were opened in 2008, and there is a symbolic Holocaust memorial — pews in the sanctuary are from the great synagogue in Olomouc, which was destroyed by the Nazis in 1939. Here is a blog account by a student who was on a Holocaust study tour there:
Each of the 21 seas is dedicated to victims of the Holocaust from Lostice and surrounding towns. Each of the seats had a compartment dedicated to one of more families, and inside the compartment were everyday objects from the period and photos which were somehow linked to the people to whom that box was dedicated. In the box for Otto Wolf there were several items including pages from his diary, photos of his family and a spoon. We were all fascinated by these compartments and we spent some time looking through them.
According to Respect and Tolerance, the restoration project began in 2004, but the first two years were “devoted to the preparation of the project, consultation with experts and the provision of finance.”
The first physical renovation work began in 2006. It entailed renovation of the roof, floors and windows, plus rewiring, building bathrooms and installing central heating. The final stage included laying a new floor in the prayer hall, repairing the east and south facades and installing new windows and insulation. Financing came from the city, the Ministry of Culture, the Olomouc region and other bodies such as the Czech-German Future Fund, the Endowment Fund for Victims of the Holocaust, tand he State Intervention Fund of the Ministry of Agriculture.