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New Synagogue to be Inaugurated at Yad Vashem in Presence of Chief Rabbis

Showcases Judaica from Destroyed Synagogues in Europe

6 June 2005

As part of the new museum complex at Yad Vashem, a new Synagogue will be inaugurated Wednesday, June 8, 2005 at 17:00. The new Synagogue, designed by architect Moshe Safdie and the interior design firm Tamuz, will serve as a place where visitors can say kaddish for beloved departed ones, where individuals can gather in silent prayer or join a traditional minyan in the communal atmosphere of a synagogue, and as a monument to the destroyed synagogues of Europe. A special media preview will take place at 16:00. RSVP requested.

Thirty-one distinct items will be on display, including four Torah Arks, and various other Judaicia from throughout Europe. The four arks, all of which come from Romania, were brought to Yad Vashem with the support of the late Prof. Nicolae Cajal, then president of the Federation of the Jewish Communities in Romania and with the backing of the Romanian government. In 1998, Yehudit Inbar, Director of the Museums Division and Haviva Peled Carmeli, Senior Artifacts Curator, traveled throughout Romania to trace what was left of a once thriving Jewish community. They visited, inter alia, Bucharest, Barlad, Radauti, Cluj, Timisoara, Iasi, Dorohoi and Constanta synagogues and found a wealth of Judaica and synagogue furnishings in synagogues hermetically sealed since the Holocaust. The remnants, discovered in pieces throughout Romania, arrived at Yad Vashem in November 1999. Yad Vashem’s restorers labored to fit the pieces back together; while at the same time endeavoring to preserve the state in which the items were discovered.

Among the items discovered was an Ark that was found in a local Romanian’s home who was using it as a clothes closet, the Torah Ark of the Apple Merchants Association Synagogue in Iasi, and the unraveling Torah Ark Curtain from Cluj. The main, functioning Torah Ark’s façade is from Barlad, Romania. In addition, there are ritual articles from Poland, Greece, Transnistria, Germany and Slovakia.

The inauguration ceremony will take place in the presence of Rabbi Yona Metzger, Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Shlomo Amar, the Rishon LeZion Chief Rabbi of Israel, Isaac Herzog MK, Minister of Housing and Construction, Eli Zborowski, Chairman of the American Society for Yad Vashem, Marilyn and Barry Rubenstein, of the USA, the donors of the new Synagogue and Avner Shalev, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate. The event will take place in the Square of Hope at Yad Vashem.

During the course of the evening, a Torah Scroll that survived the Holocaust will be dedicated. The Scroll was discovered in a barn in Wengrow near Lublin in Poland by a Polish farmer who gave it to an Israeli who visited there during the Communist area. The Scroll was discovered in pieces, but was repaired with the generous help of Allan and Sylvie Green, of France. Two other Scrolls, gifts of Cesia and Edward Mosberg (USA) and the Memorial Scrolls Trust, Westminster Synagogue (UK) will also be housed in the Synagogue.

The Nazis destroyed thousands of synagogues and study-houses during the Holocaust. On Kristallnacht alone, more than 1,000 synagogues were burnt or destroyed.

“The Yad Vashem synagogue will serve as a memorial to the destroyed places of worship of European Jewry. It will be a testimonial to the indestructible faith, the rich spiritual world of European Jewry and the extraordinary will of the Jewish people to survive, to remember and to rebuild,” said Avner Shalev, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate.

The event is open to the press in coordination with the Media Relations Department.