Zemun synagogue returned to Jewish community ownership

The synagogue in Zemun has been restituted back to Jewish community ownership. Built in the mid-19th century, it is currently used as a restaurant.

“Our Synagogue is finally returned,” the Zemun Jewish community, an affiliate of the Serbian Federation of Jewish communities, told Jewish Heritage Europe.

Zemun is today located on the outskirts of Belgrade, but from the 18th century the town was the last outpost of the Austro-Hungarian Empire before the Serbian border. It has a small but active Jewish community with a history of its own.

The synagogue was built for the local Ashkenazi community and is the oldest synagogue in the Belgrade area. Belgrade has one active synagogue, the Sukat Shalom, located downtown, that was built in the 1920s. The Moorish-style synagogue built in central Belgrade in 1908 was destroyed during the war. The city’s Sephardic synagogue was severely damaged by Allied bombing in 1944 and was demolished after the war.

The Novosti news site reported on November 26 that the Administrative Court, acting on the order of the Supreme Court of Cassation (SCC), had confirmed the 2016 decision of the Agency for Restitution and returned the synagogue to the Zemun Jewish community.

The Agency had ordered the building returned to the community under the Serbian Law on Restitution of Property to Churches and Religious Communities. But the decision got held up in the courts by legal and procedural issues.

The Jewish community had sold the building to the city in 1962. It has housed a restaurant serving Serbian specialties for the past 15 years, and before that was used as a rock and live music club.


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