Turkish synagogue to reopen after government-funded restoration


(JTA) — The Great Synagogue of Edirne in Turkey will reopen following a five-year government-sponsored restoration.

The synagogue, which will be rededicated on Thursday, was rebuilt with $2.5 million of government funds that have restored its formerly collapsed domes and vibrant polychrome interior, Reuters reported. The restoration has taken place despite the fact that Edirne, near Turkey’s western border with Greece and Bulgaria, has only one part-time Jewish resident.

The resident, Rifat Mitrani, grew up in Edirne and married his wife in the synagogue, but he now only lives in the city during the week to look after his two supermarkets. He returns to his family in Istanbul for Shabbat, according to Reuters.

The synagogue, built in 1907, was  closed in 1983. It was modeled originally after Vienna’s Leopoldstadter Tempel, which has since been destroyed, according to the Hurriyet Daily News.

Last November, the governor of Edirne threatened to reopen the building only as a museum and not as a synagogue, but he subsequently apologized for his remarks and backed down from his threat.

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