Nine mid-sized cities in Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia, Germany, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina are taking part in an EU-funded, trans-border tourism and educational project under the title “Rediscover, expose and exploit the concealed Jewish heritage of the Danube Region.”
The more than €1.8 million project (with most funding from the European Regional Development Fund) kicked off June 1, 2018 and runs until May 31, 2021. It is being implemented by partnerships of local governments, NGOs and Jewish communities in the EU’s Danube Region — an area stretching along the river and its hinterland, from the Black Forest to the Black Sea.
The main objective, states the project description:
is to explore, revive and present the hidden intellectual heritage along with locally available Jewish cultural heritage of project partner cities. That can create a jointly presented, synergistic tourism tool/service that is accessible to the wide audience as well.
The partnerships, it says, are “based on cities of similar historical background with Jewish heritage and similar cultural and tourism missions.”
Today’s Jewish society in the Danube region is fragmented: the capitals and large regional centers have a significant residual community with preserved religious and cultural features. Mid-sized cities with limited built cultural heritage are usually linked to well-known heritage centres on the tourism market. For them, the main challenge is to find ways to explore the tangible/intangible elements of Jewish cultural heritage in order to create competitive cultural products with potential tourism prospects.
The re-discovery of the Jewish cultural heritage of project scenes means that besides intangible elements that are well-known to the wide audience (synagogues, cemeteries, memorials, public/ business/residential buildings) are to be organised into creative attractions, to include and integrate intangible elements usually not recognised by the mainstream community and visitors. Such elements like music & literature, religion & festivals, traditions & lifestyle, cuisine & local recipes, oral history, photo collections, legacy of famous local born Jewish personalities, arts, events etc. This project would like to help creating competitive advantages for cities with otherwise scarce JCH attractions.
In early February, as part of the project, the city of Timisoara, Romania completed and posted three videos, including this one, on Jewish architecture in the city, which includes three synagogues:
The other two videos focus on local Jewish personalities and the life of a local Jewish family. Click here to see all three videos.
The municipal government of Szeged, Hungary is the REDISCOVER project’s lead partner.
Szeged and Surroundings Tourism Nonprofit Ltd., City of Banja Luka (BA), Municipality of Galati (RO), Kotor Municipality (ME), Institute for Culture, Tourism and Sport Murska Sobota (SI), City of Osijek (HR), World Heritage Management City of Regensburg (DE), Municipal Museum of Subotica (RS) and Municipality of Timisoara (RO).
Thematic partners associated with local governments are also involved in the project: City of Subotica, City Municipality Murska Sobota, Jewish Community of Szeged, and Jewish Community Timisoara, part of Federation of Jewish Communities of Romania, Jewish Community of Osijek, Jewish Community of Montenegro, Jewish Community of Banja Luka and Romanian Institute for Research on National Minorities.
Small Jewish communities are active in more than half of these cities, and some of them — such as Szeged, Subotica, Timisoara — boast impressive synagogues.