Today our day began with a Skype meeting with the family who is organizing our speaking engagements in Australia. We were so pleased to “meet” them and are looking forward to working with them.
At 9:30am we went with our friends and a guide on a tour of Jewish Bucharest. It is staggering to know that before the Holocaust there were over 800,000 Jewish people in Romania and now there are about 6,000!
The first synagogue we stopped by was the Holy Union Temple, which was built in 1850 by the Jewish Tailor’s Guild of Bucharest. It no longer functions as a synagogue, but will soon open as the Jewish Museum. The Hebrew says, “Because My house will be called a House of Prayer for All the People.”
The next synagogue we visited was the Great Synagogue, which was built by the Polish Jewish community in 1845. It has been restored at various times and held services up until about a year ago, when the Choral Synagogue had its restoration completed.
One of the most well-known leaders of this synagogue was Dr. Rav Mozes Rosen. I would encourage you to read a biography of him, as he was the Chief Rabbi of Romania for many years and had much influence both within the world Jewish community as well as the Romanian government. One interesting fact about Rav Rosen, is that he promoted the transfer of Soviet Jews to Israel via Bucharest, where they would receive some education in Judaism before immigrating to Israel.
The Great Synagogue, Bucharest.
While the outside of the synagogue is fairly plain, the inside is beautiful. Here are a few photos:
The Great Synagogue also had an impressive display chronologically showing the progression of anti-Semitism, leading all the way through the pogroms and death camps. Being confronted with the evilness of man is never easy.
The last synagogue we visited the Choral Synagogue. It was modeled after the Leopoldstadt-Tempelgasse Great Synagogue in Vienna, which was destroyed during Kristallnacht on November 10, 1938.
The outside of the Choral Synagogue and a Holocaust Memorial outside the synagogue.
Inside the synagogue. There were two levels of women’s section. I’ve never seen a synagogue with such a large women’s section.
Finally, I wanted to show you a picture of the Yiddish Theater. It is one of only a few in the entire world. Not far from the theater, we spotted this swastika. Just a reminder of the ever-present anti-Semitism around the world.