(lubavitch.com) Sixty years after it was emptied of its Jewish worshipers, the Óbuda synagogue in Budapest—the oldest in Hungary, will open its doors to services this Rosh Hashana.
The structure, built in 1820, was returned to the Jewish community last April, thanks to the efforts of Rabbi Shlomo Koves, leader of EMIH Jewish Community in Hungary and a Hungaran born Chabad emissary; Rabbi Boruch Oberlander, senior Chabad representative to Hungary; Mr. George Rohr and Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Vice Chairman of Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch.
The Obuda synagogue was closed down after the Holocaust and the subsequent Soviet takeover of Hungary. In the 1960s, it was converted to state-run televsion studios. The elegant facade of the building was not damaged, but the sanctuary and three-story interior, designed by architecht Andreas Landesherr in the French Empire style, were destroyed.
Valued at an estimated four million dollars, the synagogue will be restored to its former grandeur after months of extensive renovations and restorative work.
At the time it was built, Óbuda was the only city in the capital region to allow Jewish settlement and the only city in the Hapsburg Empire where Jews were free to engage in various trades. Upon its completion, the synagogue drew thousands of Jews. Óbuda was home to the largest Jewish community in Hungary, and would later be joined with Pest to form the Hungarian capital Budapest.
According to Rabbi Koves, this is the only synagogue in the Buda part of Budapest, and will thus become a important hub for local and visiting Jews. “This may be the first synagogue in Eastern Europe restored to Jewish hands after 60 years, to be used on a daily basis.”