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Obj. ID: 5472
Jewish Architecture
  Old Synagogue in Alba Iulia, Romania

© Center for Jewish Art, Photographer: Levin, Vladimir, 2019

Alba Iulia is the oldest Jewish settlement in Transylvania, where Jewish presence was recorded in the late 16th century. In 1653, the region’s code of laws required all Jews in Transylvania to live exclusively in this town. Until 1879, the rabbis of Alba Iulia were considered to be the chief rabbis of all Jews in Transylvania. The Jewish population of Alba Iulia increased from 150 Jews in 1785 to 264 in 1838 to 1,586 in 1910 (14% of the total population) and 2,070 in 1947. As a result of the Jewish emigration during the Communist era, only 45 Jews remained in the city in 2003.[1]

The Ashkenazi synagogue of Albe Iulia is the oldest synagogue in Transylvania, built in 1840. In 1938 it was reconstructed and, in 2017, it was significantly renovated. 

The synagogue is a Baroque building, facing the street with its western façade. The façade is flanked by two pairs of Doric pilasters; the main entrance decorated by a triangular pediment is surmounted by an oculus. The entrance door for women at the southern façade is decorated by a semicircular pediment.

The interior is decorated by similar pilasters. A prominent wooden Torah ark stands in the center of the east wall. A canopy on four Corinthian columns precedes the ark, which is decorated with wooden carved figures of lions holding the Tablets of the Law (Fig. 44).

A marble bimah in the center of the hall is a nice piece of Baroque stone carving. Four Ionic columns accentuate its four corners, serving as a model for the bimah in the Great Synagogue of Sibiu.

The women’s section is situated in the western part of the building, above the vestibule and the small prayer room. It opens to the prayer hall as a balcony supported by two Doric columns. A space under the staircase to the women’s section is said to have been used as a communal prison.

 

[1] Gyémánt, Evreii din Transilvania în epoca emanciparii (1790-1867) = The Jews of Transylvania in the Age of Emancipation (1790-1867), 236; Ladislau Gyémánt, “Alba Iulia,” in YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe, ed. Gershon David Hundert (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), https://yivoencyclopedia.org/article.aspx/Alba_Iulia.

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Name/Title
Old Synagogue in Alba Iulia | Unknown
Object Detail
Date
1840, 1938
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
1938, 2017
Artist/ Maker
Unknown (Unknown)
Historical Origin
Unknown
Community type
Congregation
Unknown
Location
Romania | Transylvania | Alba județ | Alba Iulia
| 2 Tudor Vladimirescu St.
Site
Unknown
School/Style
Period
Unknown
Period Detail
Collection
Unknown |
Documentation / Research project
Unknown
Material/Technique
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Density
Colors
Construction material
Brick
Measurements
Height
Length
Width
Depth
Circumference
Thickness
Diameter
Weight
Axis
Panel Measurements
Iconographical Subject
Unknown |
Condition
Extant
Yes
Documented by CJA
Surveyed by CJA
Present Usage
Synagogue
Present Usage Details
Condition of Building Fabric
A (Good)
Architectural Significance type
Historical significance: Event/Period
Historical significance: Collective Memory/Folklore
Historical significance: Person
Architectural Significance: Style
Architectural Significance: Artistic Decoration
Urban significance
Significance Rating
3 (National)
Languages of inscription
Unknown
Type of grave
Unknown
0
Ornamentation
Custom
Contents
Codicology
Scribes
Script
Number of Lines
Ruling
Pricking
Quires
Catchwords
Hebrew Numeration
Blank Leaves
Direction/Location
Façade (main)
Endivances
Location of Torah Ark
Location of Apse
Location of Niche
Location of Reader's Desk
Location of Platform
Temp: Architecture Axis
Arrangement of Seats
Location of Women's Section
Direction Prayer
Direction Toward Jerusalem
Coin
Coin Series
Coin Ruler
Coin Year
Denomination
Signature
Colophon
Scribal Notes
Watermark
Hallmark
Group
Group
Group
Group
Group
Trade Mark
Binding
Decoration Program
Summary and Remarks
Suggested Reconsdivuction
History/Provenance
Main Surveys & Excavations
Bibliography
Aristide Streja and Lucian Schwarz, Sinagogi din România (Bucharest, 1996) = Synagogues of Romania ([Bucharest]: Hasefer Publishing House, 1997), p. 165, 188, ills. 156-157; http://jewish-heritage-europe.eu/2017/11/19/romania-alba-iulia-synagogue-to-be-rededicated http://jewish-heritage-europe.eu/2017/12/17/romania-re-dedication-of-the-synagogue-in-alba-iulia
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Original Object
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Architectural Drawings
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Computer Reconstruction
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Language Editor
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Negative/Photo. No.