Obj. ID: 10135
Jewish Architecture Great Synagogue in Sibiu, Romania
Jews settled in Sibiu in the mid-19th century. There were 5 and 9 Jews in 1850 and 1857 respectively, and 168 Jews in 1869. By the turn of the 20th century, however, the community was much larger and numbered 875 Jews in 1900 and 1,307 in 1910. Such a large community needed a synagogue, which could reflect its size and prosperity.
The Great Synagogue in Sibiu was erected in 1899 according to the design of a Hungarian architect Ferenc Szalay. Although the synagogue is well preserved, is was not used for worship in the last 40 years. The small Jewish community today uses for prayer a room in the community building behind the synagogue.
The Great Synagogue is a large building with an impressive western façade facing one of the main streets of Sibiu. The façade features Neo-Romanesque decorations and is surmounted by the Tablets of the Law.
The magnificent prayer hall expresses the taste of the Orthodox current among Hungarian Jews: the bimah is situated in the center of the hall and the women’s gallery has a mehitzah – arches with curtains, which prevent men from seeing women. Four wooden columns are placed at the corners of the bimah, a feature popular in Hungarian synagogues. The eastern wall of the hall is richly decorated with murals.
 Ladislau Gyémánt, Evreii din Transilvania în epoca emanciparii (1790-1867) = The Jews of Transylvania in the Age of Emancipation (1790-1867) (Bucharest: Editura Enciclopedica, 2000), 237.
 Traian Rotariu, Maria Semeniuc, and Elemer Mezei, Recensământul din 1900. Transilvania (Bucharest: Editura Staff, 1999), 539; Traian Rotariu, Maria Semeniuc, and Elemer Mezei, Recensământul din 1910. Transilvania (Bucharest: Editura Staff, 1999), 521.
| 17 Constituţiei St.
Aristide Streja and Lucian Schwarz, Sinagogi din România (Bucharest, 1996) = Synagogues of Romania ([Bucharest]: Hasefer Publishing House, 1997), p. 128, 190, ills. 108-109.