Events celebrating the official reopening of Budapest’s historic, Moorish-style Rumbach st synagogue as a cultural and religious space after a fullscale restoration kick off Thursday (June 10) with a public Torah procession though the downtown Jewish quarter.
The Jewish umbrella organization Mazsihisz said the procession would start at 3:30 p.m. from the “Weeping Willow” Holocaust memorial next to the Dohány Street Synagogue, then move on to the Rumbach Synagogue via Károly körút and Madách Square.
The public is welcome to follow the procession, it said, but because of COVID-19 restrictions, only a limited number of invited guests will be able to attend the ceremony inside the synagogue.
Mazsihisz said one of the invited guests is a nurse who caught COVID while working at a hospital, spent more than three months in intensive care, and still suffers serious complications. She will place one of the mezuzot to be installed in the synagogue as part of the ceremony.
The synagogue is reopening following a detailed renovation carried out in 2017-2019, which entailed the conversion of the synagogue and its entire building complex into a multi-purpose arts, culture, prayer, and education center. The 3.2 billion Forint (€10 million) costs were fully funded by the Hungarian state.
The interior work entailed a complete rebuilding and/or replacement of both structural and decorative elements in the richly ornate, octagonal sanctuary. These included the chandeliers, wall paintings and wood-paneled ceiling, and also a total rebuilding of the destroyed ark in its original place, using plaster, glass, and gold.
The restored complex includes a permanent exhibition that presents the experience of Hungarian Jews through the history of a Hungarian Jewish family.
The Hungarian National Committee of ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) awarded its annual restoration prize to the restoration in April, on the occasion of World Monuments Day. The announcement of the award cited the exemplary character of the restoration, which also “enables the cultural use of its central space.”
The synagogue complex, dating from 1872/73 is an early work by the noted Viennese architect Otto Wagner, It had long stood in a semi-derelict state following partial reconstruction in the late 1980s/early 1990s that was left unfinished for lack of funds. It was returned to Jewish ownership in 2006.
Several cultural events, including online concerts, will take place as part of the inaugural celebrations.