Friday, June 20, 2008

Synagogue in Jicin, CZ, Restored

Yet another synagogue in the Czech Republic has been restored and opened to the public. Jicin is northeast of Prague -- I saw the building was work was just beginning, in 2006.

Here's the report on the restoration from the International Survey of Jewish Monuments

Restoration of Baroque Synagogue in Jičín (Czech Republic) complete
by Samuel D. Gruber (ISJM)

Following nearly eight years (2001-2008) the restoration of the
magnificent Baroque synagogue in Jičín, North Bohemia (Czech Republic)
is complete. The Prague Jewish Community will officially open the
building to the public on Thursday, June 19, 2008. The restoration
project is part of a continuing effort by the Czech Jewish Community
to reclaim, protect and preserver its historic, cultural and artistic

A Jewish settlement is known to have existed in Jičín in the second
half of the 14th century, but Jews were expelled from the town in
1542-45 and again in 1557-63. The now-restored synagogue was erected
in 1773, more than a century after Jews are known to have been
readmitted to the town. According to Dr. Arno Pařík of the Prague
Jewish Museum, "this is an exceptionally pure example of a small, late
Baroque synagogue." It is a rectangular building, approximately 12.5
meters long and 8.2 meters wide, with a fairly high saddle roof over a
barrel-vault, supported on traverse arches and 90 cm. thick walls.
The sanctuary is well-lit by three tall arched windows on the south
and north walls. Smaller windows are set in the west (façade) and east
walls, the latter dominated by the well-preserved masonry Ark, flanked
by twisted columns. The vivid wall paintings – mostly in reds and
blues – have been restored to their 1840 appearance. Photos of the
restored building will be posted soon at
The building is now one of best preserved late Baroque synagogues
remaining in Central Europe.

The restoration of the synagogue was supervised by engineer Mojmír
Malý at Matana a.s., Administration of Buildings and Cemeteries.
Heritage supervision is provided by the Zecher Foundation for the
Preservation of Jewish Monuments through Dr. Arno Pařík, and the
National Heritage Institute – specialist department in Pardubice.
Financing has been provided by the Jewish Community of Prague, the
Czech Ministry of Culture, the District Authority of Hradec Králové,
and the Municipal Government of Jičín. Financial support for the
synagogue renovation has also been provided by the Jewish Heritage
Program and World Monuments Fund.

A Torah scroll from Jicin is now in the possession of Temple Shir
Tikva in Wayland, Massachusetts (USA).

For more on the history and architecture of the building see Arno
Pařík, "History and Renovation of Jičín Synagogue," Judaica Bohemiae
(40/2004), 104-122.

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