Restoration of the long-abandoned synagogue in Kőszeg has begun

Renovation of the long-abandoned 19th century synagogue in Kőszeg, in western Hungary has begun.

The work represents the first phase of a larger plan that foresees the restoration of the entire synagogue complex, including the Rabbi’s house, courtyard, garden, and fence. Work on the synagogue is expected to be completed by the second half of 2021, while the Rabbi’s house should be completed by spring 2022.

The complex has been owned since 2016 by the state, which is reported to have allocated around €1,8 million for the project.

The Hungarian Public Procurement Authority said the first phase of restoration of the synagogue will include removal of mold, reinforcing the structure, carrying out masonry and other work on the roof, and installing mechanical and electrical systems. Restoration of the interior of the building will focus particular attention to the delicate paintings on the walls and ceiling.

An article posted on the web site of MAZSIHISZ, the country’s EJC affiliate, said the synagogue had been taken over by the contractor in August and preparatory works such as landscaping, and restoration surveys have been carried out since then.

The synagogue has stood empty and in deteriorating condition for decades.

Of the 109 Jews living in Kőszeg in 1941, only 7 survived the Shoah; they left the city in the years following WW II.

From 1944 to 1996, the synagogue was owned by the state, and afterwards it was bought by a private investor who wanted to establish an Irish pub in it. This project failed, and in 2004, the synagogue was auctioned again, but none of its new owners carried out renovation works. With the creation of the KRAFT program, renovation work on the synagogue should have started  in 2014 under its supervision, with the aim to be completed by 2015, but this failed to materialize.

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