Plea to Restore Synagogue
By Borislav (Bobby) Levashki
I'm an ordinary student from Vidin, Northwestern Bulgaria. I want to inform you about the horrible condition of the synagogue in my town. It is so sad to watch the ruins of this once beautiful building and wonder will it collapse and disappear. Some 2-3 years ago there were some prospects of restoring it but it seems that they didn't get enough money. There is also an old Jewish cemetery just outside the town but it is in a very bad condition too, almost devastated.
Part of the synagogue from the outside
The cemetery was neglected and overgrown with grass and bushes. There were only Christian stones with crosses on them and many were broken into pieces. I'm not quite sure whether this was the real part of the Jewish graveyard and it was destroyed or perhaps it might be somewhere else around the town. I couldn't get more information from anybody including the mayor. I found out from the Internet that "in 2001 a group of gipsies have vandalized more that 1000 graves at the local Jewish cemetery in Vidin". The cemetery, if it is still there, might be at the other side of the town.
Remains of two windows
About the synagogue, I wrote an e-mail to the Ministry of Culture to find out what is being done about it and I got a reply which said:
"The synagogue in Vidin is an architectural and a state of the art cultural monument of a national significance, built in the period of 1888 - 1894.
Since 1950 the building had lost its basic function and it had been used as a warehouse which has had an extremely negative effect on its condition. The management of the synagogue is responsible the Municipality of Vidin.
In 1975 the National Institute of Cultural Monuments had issued a project for adapting the synagogue to a concert hall. Due to the limited budget the massive reconstruction had been postponed.
After 2000 the Municipality of Vidin along with the Jewish Organization in Bulgaria "Shalom" had taken unsuccessful steps at the World Fund of Cultural Monuments for financing the restoration of the synagogue and transforming it into a multifunctional building.
The Ministry of Culture is truly committed to preserving the significant monument and is looking for alternative sources for the realization of this project. At the beginning of 2007 there has been introduced a proposal for an investment project at the Operative program "Regional Development" and the results are axpected in October 2007."
what remains from the inside of the synagogue
The letter was written in Bulgarian and I translated it into English so excuse me if it sounds a bit artificial. I understand that they are trying to get some financing from the EU structural funds. I hope they do something about it because the synagogue has been in this state for as long as I remember myself and I'm 27. I hope it won't take another 27 years till somebody decides to restore it. From the photos you can see that some years ago there have been some efforts to strengthen the structure and that's what's still holding it together. I hope they'll do something now because it's about time.
a view of the two floors
I couldn't get in contact with "Shalom", the Jewish Organization in Bulgaria. Maybe one of your readers could do that and get some more detailed information about the synagogue and the cemetery.
a detail of the columns
Perhaps one of the readers of the Jewish Magazine will take an interest in this synagogue before it is totally gone and restore it to its original grandeur.
from the June 2007 Edition of the Jewish Magazine