01.04.2022 12:59 | Press release
After three years of reconstruction worth one hundred million crowns, the Great Synagogue of Pilsen will open to the public. The reopening ceremony will take place on Sunday, April 10. It will begin at 5 p.m. with a procession with the Torah scroll created at the end of the 19th century.
The Torah will be transferred from the former synagogue of Smetanovy sady to one of the five largest synagogues in the world – the Great Synagogue of Klatovy. In the procession, rabbis and representatives of Jewish communities from all over the Czech Republic will take turns chanting the Torah. The Torah will be placed in the tabernacle of the Great Synagogue by Chief Rabbi Karol Sidon and President of the Jewish Community of Pilsen Jiří Löwy. The program associated with the concert will follow from 6 p.m.
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Petr Fiala and Minister of Culture of the Czech Republic Martin Baxa took the auspices of the reopening ceremony. On Tuesday, March 29, the rebuilt synagogue was approved. The synagogue will be open to the public from Monday, April 11, daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Saturdays and other Jewish holidays.
“I am very happy that after years of effort, this magnificent building and its surroundings have undergone a complete renovation and are finally open to the public. The aim of the whole project is not only to return the synagogue to the desired condition, but also to reconstruct the entire building complex for a wide range of uses, which far exceeds its original sacred significance. The renovation was largely funded by public funds, and that’s why we want it to serve the public as much as possible in the future. We would like it to be an important place on the cultural map of the city and a space for living culture,” said the president of the Jewish community of Pilsen, Jiří Löwy.
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The complete reconstruction of the interior of the synagogue and the repair of the Rabbinical House began in 2019. The main nave of the synagogue will provide concert space with good acoustics and up to around a thousand seats for spectators. The total cost of the repair reached one hundred million crowns, the majority part was paid by grants from the European Union (IROP), the remaining part was paid by the Jewish community of Pilsen.
The program for the reopening ceremony will begin on Sunday, April 10 at 5 p.m. with a procession with the Torah scroll from the Old Synagogue through Smetana Park and Klatovy Avenue and its placement in the tabernacle of the Great Synagogue.
“It is the largest Torah in Pilsen, which, to our surprise, does not come from Pilsen. Only a few weeks ago, using luminescent methods, the donation inscriptions on the extensions of the Torah were been identified and the names of the donor, Abraham Eliezer Pfeiffer, have been revealed. He dedicated it in 1896 on the occasion of the birth of his son Jaakob Chaim. Searching through archives and registers, we discovered that Pfeiffer, and so our Torah, came from the Bavarian town of Straubing. How the Torah got to Pilsen remains a mystery for now. We had the Torah decorated with traditional accessories: a crown, a shield and a pointer. We organized a collection for the production of these attributes, in which, thanks to the contributions of many people from the Jewish community and beyond, more than half a million crowns were collected,” Jiří Löwy added to the story of the Torah. The crown, the b Button and pointer are inspired by the Great Synagogue. The author and director of the design is the Czech designer and jeweler Petr Vogel. Jiří Urban, a prominent Czech jeweler and jeweler, was also involved in the creation of the ornaments.
A ceremonial program will begin in the Great Synagogue on Sunday, April 10 at 6 p.m. The introductory speech will be given by the chairman of the Jewish community of Pilsen, Jiří Löwy, and the Minister of Culture and former mayor of Pilsen, Martin Baxa, the author of the new permanent exhibition, Radovan Kodera, and the Torah decorating author, Petr Vogel, will also speak. Peter Györi, the composer and playwright of the gala evening, commented on the program: “The evening will feature compositions inspired by Jewish prayers, adapted for this special occasion. We wanted to address mainly artists and institutions in Pilsen, so the singing of the mixed children’s choir, which is made up of local elementary art schools and the Kajetán children’s choir, will be heard, accompanied by students from the Conservatory of Pilsen under the baton of Jiří Štrunc. Artists with whom I have worked for a long time will also perform, such as Annamári d’d’Almeida, Robert Fischmann or Veronika Savincová. »
The Jews in the exhibition lived here
The Great Synagogue will also feature a permanent exhibition of JEWS INHABITED HERE in the north and south galleries. The subject is the history and present of the Jewish monuments of the Pilsen region and is installed in electronic form in eight screens located in stands of the two side galleries. Both screens will be touch-sensitive and will offer new applications.
The first application is a map of the Pilsen region, which shows localities with monuments or documented Jewish realities. The second application allows you to view the visual documentation according to six thematic areas – preserved and reconstructed synagogues and prayer houses, destroyed synagogues, cemeteries, other Jewish monuments, the Great Synagogue and the Rabbinical House and their reconstruction and the Old Synagogue and its repair and the Garden of Remembrance.
There will also be a recording of a 3D model of the Great Synagogue and the Rabbinical House on the touch screens. The exhibition will include an exhibition at the Mikve Ritual Bath rabbinical house on Jewish religion and culture. The author of the exhibition is Radovan Kodera.
Visits to the Great Synagogue of Pilsen-TOURISM
The municipal organization Pilsen-TOURISM will offer two guided tours of the Great Synagogue. The first is the Great Synagogue with a tour of the tower. During the guided tour, participants will learn about the process of construction and reconstruction of the synagogue, as well as the history of the Jewish community of Pilsen and see the permanent exhibition JEWS HAVE LIVED HERE. The specialty of the tour is visiting one of their towers. The tour is not suitable for children under 6 years old. The second visit is the Great Synagogue with a view of the Rabbinical House. The specialty of this itinerary is a glimpse of the Rabbinical House and the ritual mikveh of the Jewish bath. More information will be provided by the information and tourism center of the city of Pilsen. Tickets will go on sale at the beginning of April at the Pilsen Information Center and on the Pilsen Ticket Portal.
The Pilsen Synagogue, built in the pseudo-Romanesque style with Moorish elements, is an important cultural monument not only in the Czech Republic but also throughout Europe. It is one of the five largest synagogues in the world, the largest synagogue in the Czech Republic and the second largest in Europe. Along with St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral is the dominant feature of the city of Pilsen.
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