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AROUND SLOVAKIA

Synagogues serve art, culture

IN SLOVAKIA the fate of synagogues, which used to be quite numerous, is lamentable. As the Jewish commu-nity has shrunk considerably, and the two totalitarian regimes that swept across the country in the 20th century were not supportive, many of these buildings were destroyed, used for other – often quite destructive – purposes, or simply left abandoned to decay.

Synagogue in Lučenec awaiting reconstruction.(Source: Sme)

IN SLOVAKIA the fate of synagogues, which used to be quite numerous, is lamentable. As the Jewish commu-nity has shrunk considerably, and the two totalitarian regimes that swept across the country in the 20th century were not supportive, many of these buildings were destroyed, used for other – often quite destructive – purposes, or simply left abandoned to decay.

In October 2014, however, good news arrived: two of the unused synagogues, in Ružo-mberok and in Lučenec, have been or are to be reconstructed and used for cultural and social events.

The historically and architecturally precious building of the synagogue in Ružombe-rok, dating back to the second half of the 19th century, has been reconstructed for more than €800,000. First came an accommodating agreement between the town administration and the Central Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Slovakia about the long-term rental of the synagogue for cultural and social purposes for the symbolic price of one euro. The reconstruction of the national cultural monument, which had been dilapidating for years, lasted for more than a year, and it mainly involved repairing walls, floors, balconies and restoring art objects, the TASR newswire wrote.

The Lučenec synagogue, also dilapidating for decades, goes a slightly different way. The town bought the synagogue from the private company Kobra for a symbolic one euro 18 months ago. Now, it will reconstruct the synagogue with the help of €2.36 million from European Union structural funds, co-financing 5 percent of the cost on its own.

It would have been difficult for the private company to get the EU resources, and the co-financing would have to be 30 percent. New floors and utilities will be installed, the building will be statically secured and insulated from ground dampness, and also the stained-glass windows will be renewed according to original archival documents.

The synagogue will also be furnished to serve for cultural and social events, the SITA newswire wrote.

Ten years after the official opening of the building at the soonest, the Kobra company can apply its pre-emptive right to buy back the synagogue – also for one euro – but the town will still be allowed to organise three events a year free of charge there.

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