Revival of the Jewish architectural heritage of Temesvár/Timișoara

The Fabric Synagogue is a Neolog synagogue in the Fabric Quarter of the city of Temesvár/Timișoara and was built between 1897 and 1899. Today, it stands in dangerously dilapidated condition and is closed to the public, but it is still magnificent and one of the most distinctive and original buildings in town. The building is built in the Neo-Moorish style, with architectural details specific to the traditions of the great contemporary Neolog synagogues that were built based on a project of the Hungarian architect Lipót Baumhorn, the same man who designed the Neolog synagogues of Brassó/Brașov and Szeged/Seghedin.

Interior of the Fabric Synagogue (photo: Roaming Romania)

It was closed 35 years ago in 1985, after the number of members of the Jewish community had considerably decreased and the maintenance costs could not be justified. The building has been repeatedly vandalized and also destroyed by the weather over the years.

The Cetate Synagogue is located in the Cetate District and was built between 1863 and 1865 in the Moorish style.

The new mayor of Timișoara, Dominic Fritz, says he has met the representatives of the Jewish community and will set things in motion for the renovation of both the Fabric and Cetate synagogues. The rehabilitation of the former and its transformation into a multicultural center has been a longtime project of Timișoara City Hall.

“We had a meeting with Luciana Friedmann, the president of the Jewish community in Timișoara, and we talked about both, the Cetate Synagogue and also the Fabric Synagogue. For the Cetate Synagogue, we will try to access additional funds including from Germany. For the one in the Fabric Quarter, we got a generous offer from the Jewish community to pass the building on to the administration of the City Hall so that we can use resources from European funds. For the moment, we are working on a concept and the legal steps. The rehabilitation of this synagogue will be a first step in the regeneration of the Fabric Quarter,” said the mayor, adding that “In January, we will take steps toward moving the synagogue under the administration of City Hall.”

In 2009, the Jewish community entrusted the building in the Fabric Quarter to the administration of the National Theatre of Timișoara. The management was planning to renovate the building within five years, but this never happened. So the City Hall of Timișoara decided to take it over in 2018, but it was never officially recorded as being under the administration of City Hall.

“We are waiting for a practical answer from City Hall. We are ready to pass on the synagogue to the administration of City Hall for as long as they wish. The National Theater has renounced its rights to the building in writing. The synagogue would be transformed into a multicultural center,” said Luciana Friedmann.

Featured photo: Fabric Synagogue (timisoreni.ro)

Author: Blanka Székely