THE SYNAGOGUE

THE JEWISH CEMETERY
October 23, 2017

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Alba Iulia hosts the oldest Israelite community in Transylvania, with a permanent activity until today. The city centre preserves Alba County’s only brick wall synagogue. Constructed in 1840, the synagogue is also the oldest of its kind in Transylvania.

Baring the name of Rabbi Ezekiel Paneth, during whose time the synagogue was built, the construction is austere, but also Baroque and Neo-Classical elements are visible in its style.

The three metal „balls” on the façade of the synagogue are three cannon balls, which are left in the wall during the Revolution of 1848-1849.

Nearly a century later (1938) the synagogue was strongly shaken by a bomb attack – an event which is depicted on a plaque on the eastern wall of the central nave. A wall and some furniture were damaged in the blasts; fortunately, there was no loss of life. The authors of the attack were never discovered. While some rumours pointed to the Romanian legionnaires, others indicated Hungarian perpetrators.

At the entrance to the synagogue you will find a room that was formerly used as a prison – probably for those who committed religious offenses. Here, you can also witness the sink that was used for the religious ritual of hand washing.

The building houses a single nave, a large meeting room (in the midst of which is the bimah), and a podium (used for the Torah, the holy book of the Jews). By the eastern wall lies the aron kodeș, a cupboard where the Torah scrolls are held.

In the past, women could only access the synagogue through a separate entrance, which leads them to the so-called „Women’s Hall”.

A decrease in the number of Jews in Alba Iulia has resulted in the dismantling of the minian (the quorum of ten Jewish men who are accustomed to key rituals). For this reason, religious ceremonies can no longer be held. On the occasion of larger celebrations, community meetings take place in a smaller room of the synagogue.

In recent years, the edifice has gone through a vast restoration process.

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