This Cubist building is the only synagogue in Bratislava and the meeting place of the Jewish community living in the city. It still serves as an active Jewish house of worship but is open to public during the summer. Built in the 1920s as a copy of the Temple in Jerusalem, it holds a permanent exhibition about Bratislava Jews and their cultural heritage.
The synagogue which houses the community museum is located on Heydukova street, less than 10 minutes walk from the Old Town. It is easy to recognize it as it has a seven-pillared colonnade facing the street. The pillars symbolize the seven days during which the Creator formed the world.
When you enter the courtyard, you will see that the main gate is locked. There is however a friendly man sitting on the other side of the gate who will unlock it for you, if you tell him you came to see the synagogue (he speaks English, too).
WHAT TO SEE IN THE JEWISH COMMUNITY MUSEUM?
From the moment you enter the first hall, this man will start to explain everything from the history and architecture of the synagogue to Jewish traditions and symbols that can be found there. We appreciated a lot that he became our personal tour guide (we were there on our own) as we are in general not aware of Jewish traditions so it was very helpful and interesting for us to have everything explained properly. Good news – he speaks English as well :)
In this first hall, you will see a pillar that has a vault on its top with a Hebrew inscription. It says “before entering the synagogue, hands must be washed.” That applies to all Jewish people who are about to attend a service.
The sanctuary itself is beautiful. From the tall ceiling, on which a huge pale blue star is placed, there are big lamps hanging. In the middle, there is a neo-gothic metal construction. It is the place where the torah is read during a service. Do you see the door with the sun light on the left part of the left picture? It is the door to an outdoor garden where Jewish weddings are held. (For those who didn’t know, like ourselves, the Orthodox weddings need to be held in an open space).
From the pale blue big star, a so-called „eternal light“ is hanging (see the left picture below). The shrine is uncovered only on Saturdays during a service. There is however a condition that at least 10 male adults (i.e. older than 13 years) need to attend the service.
The Jewish Community Museum is installed upstairs. There are three rooms on the first floor where the permanent exhibition “The Jews of Bratislava and Their Heritage” is displayed.
The first one contains photos of the most important Jewish monuments that can be found in the Western part of Slovakia.
The second room displays a selection of photographs accompanied by texts from the community members. This room used to serve for classes in the past.
You can see the partial balcony of the temple in the third room – women used to pray up here until they were given a a separate corner downstairs in the synagogue.
Various pictures and objects are exposed in this room, too (even objects related to the Holocaust). We found impressing that some of them were donated by the individual community members!
We highly recommend that you visit this synagogue when you are in Bratislava. Not only because it is the only synagogue in our city – mainly because you will be leaving with an enriching feeling from there.
Author: Maria Kecsoova