Last night was Halloween, and to mark the occasion the web site Jewniverse posted a jokey article and photo gallery called “The Police Supply Store and 10 Other Synagogue Disguises” — that is, synagogues that have been converted for other use. The photos include a “top ten” of synagogues in the United States that have been converted into stores, dwellings, a parking lot, a bakery, etc.
Every year, we commemorate the ancient Temples that were destroyed, but what about the houses of worship that have been repurposed, reconstructed, reinvented — in other words, disguised as something else? […]
Look no further for Jewniverse’s Top Ten Repurposed Shuls, complete with weird photos.
It’s treated as a funny story — and the gimmick works when dealing with former synagogues in a country like the U.S., where the synagogues have been left behind by their congregations due to normal demographic shifts such as congregations that either dwindle or outgrow the building, build a new synagogue, or move away.
But the post ends with what it calls an “international bonus” — a photo of the great synagogue in Chernivtsi, Ukraine, which has long been used as a movie house. OK, the article notes that “Tragically, most of the Jews in Chernivtsi, Ukraine were wiped out in WWII or emigrated shortly after.”
But this only underscores the fact that the funny Halloween synagogue disguise gimmick does not work as a joke in much of Europe.
Here is our own gallery of pictures of just a few of the repurposed synagogues in Europe — with a skull-and-crossbones motif from the Jewish cemetery in Hamburg Altona thrown in for good measure. There are many more — and we have not included synagogues used as Jewish museums or general cultural centers/museums that highlight the Jewish history of the site.
We wrote about the two synagogues in Trnava in April 2016 — and noted other repurposed synagogues in Slovakia. Click here to read the post.
The wooden synagogue in Kulautuva was built in 1935 and bricked over and used after WW2 as a warehouse then cultural center and library. It was rediscovered in January 2016, but efforts to preserve it failed. Click to read our post.
We posted about this in November 2015 — click here to read the post. This repurposing in Wales is more like what happens in the U.S.
We posted in September 2015 that there was hope the Koronowo building would be converted into a cultural center — click here to read the post.
We have posted several times about this exciting project in Zilina, which also aims to restore the identity of the synagogue — click here.