Traveling exhibition titled ‘Synagogue Architecture Exhibition in East-Central Europe 1782-1944’ opened in Subotica on Wednesday. The expo presents the centuries-long wandering of Jews in the region through the synagogues of nine countries.

As Monika Balatoni, Minister of State for Cultural Diplomacy of the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade stressed at the opening event, the exhibition represents very well the cultural compound without which the present of Central and Eastern Europe cannot be interpreted on political grounds. She added that the exhibition might facilitate the beginning of a religious and cultural dialogue.

The synagogue of Subotica, designed by Marcell Komor and Dezso Jakab, was built in the style of Hungarian Art Nouveau and its stained glass windows were made in the workshop of Miksa Roth. During the 1970s one of its domes fell down resulting in the near collapse of the building, refurbishment lasting since then. The Minister of State emphasised in her welcome that for the reconstruction of the interior of the synagogue, the Hungarian government gives financial support of up to HUF 100 million.

The traveling exhibition was compiled on the basis of the book sharing the same title penned by Subotica-born architecture historian and photographer Rudolf Klein. Before Subotica it was presented in Kosice and Budapest too. However, as a result of a research lasting for 20 years, the expo presents the architecture of synagogues on a wider level than its written counterpart and its material actually covers the region of the whole former Austro-Hungarian Empire in 400 photos. The pictures follow the migration of Jews lasting for centuries through villages and towns of today’s Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Ukraine, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia.

Andras Heisler, president of the Alliance of Hungarian Jewish Faith Communes stressed when highlighting the importance of the synagogue in Subotica that it is the second largest synagogue of historical Hungary, right after the Dohány Street Synagogue in Budapest and almost suffered the same fate as other sacred Jewish buildings in the Carpathian Basin. It was saved from collapse through the support of the Serbian and Hungarian governments, as well as a number of Jewish communities.

Peter Kirschner, president of the Hungarian Jewish Cultural Association spoke on the saving of synagogues in the Carpathian Basin. He has emphasised that it must be considered for the future how existing buildings can be restored and filled with new content. For example, in places where there’s no Jewish community, synagogues can meet cultural functions.

(Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade)