Temesvár city council set – again – to revive the decaying Fabric synagogue

The once so grandiose Fabric synagogue, one of the most characteristic buildings of Temesvár’s (Timişoara) Jewish architectural heritage might soon be restored after four decades of decay. The city council is set to include the refurbishment of the building in the Integrated Strategy for Temesvár’s Urban Development program, wrote the tion.ro news portal.

According to a government decree adopted this year, if local authorities wish to apply for funding within the European Union’s Regional Operational Programme (ROP) for projects that address urban mobility, sustainable regeneration, or infrastructure or tourist developments, they must submit a detailed portfolio regarding their plans, with both technical and budget considerations.

The ROP aims to promote smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in all regions of Romania, making these areas more attractive places for people to live and work.

The unit overseeing development at Temesvár’s mayoral office decided they would like to apply for European funds for various projects: to refurbish the tourist complex of the Temesvár Hydroelectric Station, modernize two piazzas (the areas surrounding Piaţa Traian and Piaţa Mocioni), rehabilitate a school camp and its recreational area near the city zoo, and, last but not least, restore the Fabric synagogue and give the building new functions.

Representatives of the local administration had already declared to the press more than two years ago that the city council planned to take over the administration of the Fabric synagogue for the next four decades. They also said that the building ought to be transformed into a performance hall, but the project has not advanced since that time.

The synagogue, completed in 1899, is located in the town’s factory district and is commonly known as the Fabric(“factory district”) synagogue. The monumental, richly ornamented, Moorish-style building was designed by Lipót Baumhorn, one of the most prolific synagogue architects of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Baumhorn’s style was characterized by a harmonious combination of the architectural elements of orientalism and historicism. During the 18 and 19th centuries, the Jewish community of the city had built five synagogues – four of them are still standing, but only one is used for religious ceremonies.

The construction of the Fabric synagogue was promoted by the community’s rabbi, Jakab Singer, soon after he took up his office in 1896. The impressively grandiose building has a square floor plan, with a high central dome raised on an octagonal drum. Its organ is the creation of a renowned organ builder from Temesvár, Lipót Wegenstein, and was installed in a balcony behind the ark (the ornate cabinet for the Torah scrolls) in 1904. The Fabric synagogue has been closed to the public for more than three decades, with the once impressive structure in a constant state of decay. The roof has been damaged by water leaks, the stained glass windows are broken, and the beautifully carved furniture is almost all gone.

Title image: The Fabric Synagogue is a beautifully decorated, monumental, Moorish-style building from 1899




Author: Éva Zay