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Sofia Synagogue

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Largest synagogue in Southeastern Europe, one of two functioning in Bulgaria.

KWB’s Highlights:

  • They rightly describe the Central Synagogue in Sofia as the pride of all Bulgarian Jewry. It has been a symbol of the Jewish community in Bulgaria for more than a century.
  • It is the largest Sephardic (Spanish-Jewish) synagogue in Europe. The Central Synagogue is the only Jewish prayer home in Sofia. Currently, it is in the process of restoration and the main room is closed.
  • Ordinary services are held in the small prayer room next to the entrance. In addition to a prayer room, the Synagogue houses the offices of the Central Israelite Spiritual Council, and a small museum on the second floor.
  • Prayer Schedule: Shahrit – morning prayer, from Monday to Friday at 8:15 (breakfast is available after prayer).
  • Kosher food: The synagogue offers beef meat – veal, chicken, butter and cheeseYou can buy them: from Sunday to Friday from 9:00 to 16:00.
  • If you make a request in advance, they can also provide you with tablespoon (almond dessert) and other traditional Jewish Sephardic meals like borekas, which are small salads with cheese and aubergine (eggplant) stuffing or cheese and potatoes.

Historic and magnificent

  • The history of building the Synagogue is dramatic, not less than its size. The construction began in 1903 when the Jewish community was reorganised under the French consistory model.
  • The reorganisation was conducted by the extraordinarily active new chief rabbi Markus Erendrais and the leaders of the Sofia Jewish community: the young and energetic Ezra Tadjer and the much-loved Avram David Lewy.
  • Friedrich Gruenanger, the most famous architect in Bulgaria at the time, was chosen to create the Synagogue project.
  • Located in the very centre of the city, on terrain where previously there was an old synagogue, the synagogue “Ahava and Husse” (love and goodness).
  • The famous brass chandelier, weighing over 2,200 kg, the large candlestick (the menorah) and other parts of the decoration were bought in Vienna.
  • Finally, after four years of construction, financial crises and community debates, the Synagogue was completed. The Central Synagogue in Sofia was officially opened on September 9th 1909.
  • The Central Synagogue immediately became a symbol of Bulgarian Jewry. It houses the headquarters of the Chief Rabbi of Bulgaria and the Chief Rabbi of Sofia. It also housed the high-ranking rabbinical tribunal, Bettwin.
  • The well-known Jewish library of the Sofia community was kept there with its precious collection of medieval rabbinical works.
  • Since its opening, the Central Synagogue has been regularly serving religious services, except in the period 1943-1944, when most Jews from Sofia were deported to the province. Fortunately, the synagogue has not been defiled by the Nazis or local fascists.
  • During the bombing of Sofia in 1944 the synagogue was hit several times. The balcony, as well as several columns in the main hall, were partially destroyed. Exposed to atmospheric conditions, fine and exquisite wall ornaments were damaged. The bombing also destroyed the famous Jewish community library, with most of the most precious Jewish books burned out.
  • Over the past few years, a massive fundraising campaign has begun to restore the building to restore its previous glory. The most prominent Bulgarian masters, using the original plans and under the leadership of a Jewish community architect, work daily on the project. The restoration was initiated after a generous donation from the Israeli Doron Foundation. (Source)
  • Contact them by phone: +359 2 983 12 73 in the days and hours mentioned above.
  • 360 View.

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