BUDAPEST (JTA) — One of Hungary’s oldest synagogues has been given new life.
The neoclassical synagogue in Obuda, a northern district of Budapest, was rededicated Sunday as a Jewish house of worship half a century after it was sold to the state and converted for secular use.
"This is the best possible answer to what the Nazis did, and with this again we prove that the people of Israel live," Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger told more than 1,500 people, including Hungarian government and religious leaders, who attended the celebration.
"Fifty years after the last time Rosh Hashanah was celebrated here, it will be celebrated here once again," he said.
A landmark on the bank of the Danube River, the synagogue was designed by Andras Landherr and built in 1820-21. In the 1960s it was converted into a textile museum and then used for decades as a state television studio.
Chabad has rented the historic building and carried out a full restoration, and under Chabad Rabbi Shlomo Koves it will form part of Chabad’s growing network in the city.
“It will be, and is already, the city’s Chabad center,” Koves told lubavitch.com.
At Sunday’s rededication ceremony, Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjen said returning the synagogue to its original function represented "restoring things to their natural order."
As many as 90,000 Jews are believed to live in Budapest, although only a fraction is affiliated.
The rededication of the synagogue came during a week highlighted by events bearing witness to the multifaceted revival of Jewish life in Budapest. These included the opening of a first-of-its-kind Israeli Cultural Institute and the conclusion of the 13th annual Jewish Summer Festival, which drew thousands of visitors to concerts, a book fair and other events.