The Great Temple synagogue in Deva, in Transylvania in western Romania, was recently rededicated with a gala ceremony after undergoing two years of restoration.
The ceremony March 31 included prayers, returning Torahs to the ark, placing a mezuzah on the portal, musical performances, and the unveiling of commemorative plaques on the exterior wall.
Built in neo-Romanesque style, the synagogue dates from 1897 and still serves a tiny community.
The synagogue has an unusual layout, as the ark is located in the wide wall of the sanctuary (rather than in the middle or at one of the ends), flanked by two large, arched, stained glass windows.
The two-floor women’s gallery, which features slatted railings, runs across the wide wall facing the ark.
The condition of the building had deteriorated to the point of instability.
The restoration, funded in large part by the state as well as the Jewish federation’s patrimony foundation, included strengthening the structure and cleaning and restoring the interior and exterior — which was painted bright yellow. It also (at least for the ceremony) removed the rows of wooden pews that were once arrayed in front of the ark.
Watch a video of the ceremony here:
NOTE: Highlighting the rededication of the synagogue in Deva does not mean that we are not aware of the difficult and sometimes perilous state of Jewish heritage elsewhere in the country, as exemplified by the recent desecration of the Jewish cemetery in Huşi, where 73 gravestones were toppled or smashed. The desecration is believed to have occurred in mid-March but only discovered two weeks later. Romania has more than 830 Jewish cemeteries, most of them in isolated areas, with few visitors, and there are few resources to maintain or protect them.