Hungarian Holocaust Commemoration in Mád, Hungary Will Mark Completion of Historic Synagogue Restoration
by Samuel Gruber (International Survey of Jewish Monuments)

The beautiful and historic Baroque synagogue of Mád, Hungary, which has been empty and in ruins for decades, has been restored. A ceremony to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Hungarian Holocaust will take place in the synagogue on May 9, 2004.

The program will be opened by László Deutsch, chief rabbi of the Ujpest Community. The program includes remarks from the mayor of Mad, the general director of the State Treasury Directorate of Hungary and the president of the Fund for National Culture. Music will be performed by the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra and the Veszprémer Klezmer Band, and Cantor Emil Tóth of Budapest.

Mád is situated in the Tokai region in North-Eastern Hungary, for centuries an important center for the production of kosher wine, which was distributed north along important trade routes to Hasidic centers in present-day Slovakia, Poland and Ukraine. The synagogue, which is influenced by Polish architectural and decorative programs was built in the last quarter of the 18th century and was in use until 1947, when a few survivors of the Shoah – in which 343 Jews from Mad are known to have perished -- last held services there. The building was then deserted for the next half century.

According to the new Hungarian “Law on Cultural Heritage” passed in 2001, the synagogue is on the list of the 263 most important monuments that have to remain state property. The building is the State Treasury Directorate which was obliged to sponsor the restoration. Additional funding was provided by private donors through the Jewish Heritage Grant Program of the World Monuments Fund (WMF). The synagogue was one of a first group of especially significant and endangered Jewish historic synagogues identified by WMF in 1996. To date, seven of those ten restoration projects have now been completed. Research for the project was conducted by architectural historian Ferenc Dávid, known for his previous work on the medieval synagogue at Sopron. Project architect were Ágnes Benkö and Péter Wirth. Wirth previous won the prestigious Europa Nostra award for historic preservation for his work at the synagogue in Apostog, Hungary. Ervin Kisterenyei supervised the restoration of the interior wall paintings.

Plans are still in place to restore the adjacent rabbi’s house and yeshiva building so that the support and educational facilities can be installed to better sustain the restored synagogue as viable educational and tourist center. Dr. Andras Roman, a distinguished Hungarian preservationists and one of the organizers of the project hopes that someday a permanent exhibition on the synagogues of Hungary can be installed. Local officials are still seeking financial support to continue the project.

For more information contact ISJM c\o the author at sdgruber@syr.edu


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Last updated: May 12, 2004