The Jewish museum, cultural center, and synagogue in Ljubljana is being forced to close indefinitely because of the perilous state of the building hosting the complex.
An announcement on the center’s Facebook page just before Rosh HaShana by the Center’s director, Robert Walti, said the facilities “will close immediately after the celebration of Yom Kippur on October 10, when the urgent restoration of the roof and façade will start.”
It said the complex — which includes the only functioning synagogue in Slovenia — will be closed “for a certain period of time and all ongoing activities are to be discontinued.” This was due to the “potential hazards” derived from the “dilapidated building (particularly the roof and windows).”
Walti said funds needed for the full renovation could total €1 million, and so far only enough funding to cover the urgent work on the roof and windows had been obtained.
Because of this, he said, it was impossible to say when the center would reopen.
The Center was opened in 2013 in an old building located in (or near) the part of the picturesque historic center of Ljubljana believed to have been the Jewish quarter. It includes a library and museum, as well as the tiny synagogue, which has been active there for four years. Rabbi Ariel Haddad, commutes from the nearby Italian city of Trieste, for the holidays and sometimes Shabbat.
Its activities focus on culture, education, and commemoration, including promoting awareness and education about the Holocaust.
Walti has been active in promoting the placing of stolpersteine — stumbling stones — monuments shaped like brass cobblestones set in the pavement outside the homes of people who were deported.
On September 18, 21 stolpersteines were placed in Ljubljana (after 23 were placed last year) and stolpersteines were placed in the towns of Lendava and Murska Sobota commemorating 11 people in each town.
Ljubljana had a thriving Jewish community in medieval times, but the Jews were expelled in 1515, and after that few Jews have ever settled in the city; a small number returned in the 19th century, but the community never reached any appreciable size.
Two narrow streets still bear names that recall the medieval Jewish quarter — Židovska Ulica (Jewish Street) and Židovska Steza (Jewish Path). The medieval synagogue is believed to have been located at #4 Židovska Steza, but the site is occupied by a later building and nothing remains visible of the original structure.