Synagogues of Southern Transilvania

In the wake of the Holocaust and subsequent mass migration of the vast majority of Romania’s Jewish population, countless synagogues fell into various stages of disrepair and decay. This photo exhibition aims to capture the transitional stage in which Romania now finds itself. With the entrance of foreign investors and NGOs, some synagogues are being restored, turned into cultural centres or finding alternative uses. Others remain abandoned, assuming a central location in the town’s centre and representing an evocative, stubborn reminder of the recent and troubled past.

The questions are numerous – what will become of these buildings now that they can be used again? Will their respective towns take responsibility for their upkeep? How can they be integrated into a long-term plan for urban or rural renewal? And how can the countless still decrepit synagogues, many of significant historical or architectural value, be incorporated into a systematic and far-reaching plan to commemorate and celebrate a culture which used to play a considerable role in Romania’s vibrant multi-cultural existence?

Texts and research by Julie Dawson (

Photos and information date from 2008.


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