We began our work in 2001 as Synagoga Slovaca, a project aimed at documenting the scores of synagogues, many of them in ruinous condition, that are scattered around Slovakia. As the most prominent Jewish institution and one of the most easily identified signs of Jewish communal presence, the synagogue has served throughout history as a key to Jewish survival in the Diaspora. But Jewish material heritage also includes cemeteries, cemetery chapels, mikvaot (ritual baths), school buildings and other Jewish communal buildings.
The Jewish material heritage in Slovakia is one of the most endangered cultural heritages in Europe. Currently, there are over one hundred synagogues and prayer halls in the country, plus several historical mikvaot, and almost seven hundred cemeteries with an undetermined number of cemetery chapels. Only about half a dozen synagogues or prayer halls are still used for religious purposes. Most cemeteries are overgrown and abandoned.
We are developing this online resource in order to provide information about our research activities, including documentation and on-site monitoring. Our major goals are to promote Slovak Jewish heritage to the scientific community as well as to serve the general public. Detailed databases will provide useful information to friends of Jewish culture as well as people of Slovak-Jewish descent who are searching for their roots. It will also help in the development of Jewish heritage travel to Slovakia.
We strongly believe our project will generate a both a desire - and a commitment - to seek sustainable frameworks of maintenance and restoration. Only such strategies will be able to contribute to the preservation of Slovak Jewish monuments as part of Slovakia’s overall multicultural heritage.