Bulgarian Jewish community to donate historic Vidin synagogue to municipality

The Shalom Organisation of the Jews in Bulgaria, the country’s EJC affiliate, has decided to donate the synagogue in Vidin, a port town in north-western Bulgaria on the banks of the Danube, to the municipality.

This emerged at a meeting between Shalom Secretary-General Yosif Melamed and Vidin Mayor Ognyan Tsenkov.

“Let this be one of our contributions to the development of Vidin,” Melamed said, expressing hope for prospects for the future of the city.

Built in 1894 in the neo-Gothic architectural style, the synagogue in Vidin was the second-largest Jewish house of worship in Bulgaria. It was confiscated by the communist regime in Bulgaria after World War 2.

In 2009, ownership was transferred by the Ministry of Culture to Shalom. Three years later, the ministry announced plans to transform the building, which long since has fallen into serious disrepair, into a museum complex named after Vidin-born Jewish artist Jules Pascin.

The announcement of Shalom’s decision, taken on March 9, to donate the building to Vidin municipality came as the city hosted an exhibition dedicated to the contribution of Bulgarian Orthodox Church Vidin Metropolitan Neofit to the 1943 prevention of the deportation of Bulgarian Jews to the Nazi death camps.

Mayor Tsenkov said that the synagogue was one of the most symbolic monuments of Vidin “and it should not continue in such a state”. He said that he had no doubt that the municipality would accept the donation because everyone in Vidin, not only the local Jewish community, wanted the synagogue restored.

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