Restoration work on the gaping ruins of the Țirilson synagogue in Chisinau are underway, despite lack of full funding, more than a decade after Jewish leaders bought the site from the state in 2010 and announced plans to restore it as a multifunction Jewish center.
The synagogue was built in the second decade of the 20th century as part of a complex that also included a nursing home, but for at least three decades it has languished as a ruined shell. The ruins were listed as a Chisinau local historical and cultural monument in 1993.
Moldova’s Publika TV ran a video report this week showing the very early stages of work, which it said began a month ago. The first steps include shoring up the standing walls with metal beams.
Ion Ştefăniţă, director of the Monument Restoration Agency, says the aim is to restore the building to its original appearance, a process that should take around two years. The part of the building that had been a nursing home will be restored to house a Jewish center.
“The works provide for the reconstruction of the ground floor level with all the functionalities that are provided, library, reading room, exhibition space, audience room, space for prayer, the rabbi’s space,” he says.
Restoration work is expected to take at least two years and is moving forward even though a fundraising campaign by the Jewish community has raised only a fraction of the estimated total cost of the restoration, estimated at either €3.4 million or €4.5 million.
“It will be a great injustice if history is not restored,” Rabbi Shimshon Daniel Izakson says.
“We are now raising money to restore the synagogue,” he says. “We started the construction without having the necessary amount for this work; we started with what we have. ”
According to the fundraising web page, only a bit more than €30,000 has been collected toward the €50,000 estimated for a second phase of the restoration.