Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Slovenia -- Maribor synagogue defaced

Maribor synagogue, Jan. 18, 2009 -- photo from Slovenian Press Agency

Several synagogues in Europe have been the target of vandalism (or worse) linked to the situation in Gaza.

The latest is the historic former synagogue in Maribor, Slovenia, which was daubed with anti-Semitic graffiti over the weekend -- click HERE to see more pictures showing the walls of the building covered with "Judan Raus" and "Gaza."

The synagogue in Maribor, now used as a cultural center, is one of Slovenia's most important Jewish heritage sites and one of the oldest known synagogues in Europe.

It stands in the heart of the medieval Jewish quarter (still known as Zidovska ulica) and is believed to date from the 13th century. Its exact date and original appearance are unknown, however. Already in 1501 -- a few years after the Jews were expelled from that part of Slovenia -- it was converted into a church. It functioned as a church until the late 18th century. In the early 19th century it was sold and turned into a warehouse and, later, a dwelling.

Long empty, the building was renovated in the 1990s and reopened as a cultural center in 2001. The only physical evidence that the building was once a synagogue is the large niche in the eastern wall, presumably for the Ark. Also, numerous stone fragments with carved Hebrew inscriptions were found during excavations for the renovation.

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