Jewish mementos in Györ-Moson-Sopron Comitatus

Sopron

In Sopron there are two extraordinary places of interest to behold, two synagogues uncovered with scientific accuracy and the medieval Jewish neighborhood which in terms of its beauty can be compared to that of Prague. Almost every house of the Új utca road dates back to the Middle Ages, these buildings preserve the feel of the time when they were still inhabited by the Jews.

Old Synagogue, Új utca 11

The big synagogue built towards the end of the 1900s in the so-called civil city of Sopron was used as a stable by the Germans occupying the city in World War II and torn down in the 1960s during the Communist era. The famous Sopron rabbi, Miksa Pollák (historian of the Sopron Jews) lived nearby, on the first floor of the Jewish school on Fegyvertár utca 5. His son, the martyr, writer and poet Károly Pap spent his childhood there.

The medieval synagogue on Új utca 11 had been built around 1370 as the private synagogue of a banker named Israel. When the Jews were driven from Sopron in 1526 the prayer house was remodeled to be a residential house, its original purpose was forgotten. In 1957 scientists of the national institution for the protection of historic sights of interest learned about the building’s history and restored the prayer rooms in 1960. Entering through the gateway there is the stone frame of a gothic door on the right hand side. It was the entrance to the former Jewish hospital. On the right hand wall there is the red marble architrave of the old well for the ritual bath. Next to that a stone-framed gothic gate leads to the arched exhibition hall which opens to the street. From here, crossing through an anteroom, we enter the synagogue. There is a window left of the entrance from where the women could follow the liturgy from the hall specifically set up for their use. There are two windows with gothic stone grids masoned into the higher walls of the synagogue’s inside, the Tora cabinet sinks into the Eastern wall.

by Johannes Scholem Graf & Alexandra Vogt

2012.05.27