Bardejov, Old Synagogue compound
Bardejov’s most prominent site of Jewish heritage is the so-called Jewish suburb, a compound of Jewish institutional buildings just outside the town center. It includes the Old Synagogue, a beit midrash (Torah study house), several mikvaot (ritual baths), a heating plant and a water tower. The Old Synagogue (Old Shul), dating from 1836, is the compound’s earliest building. The sanctuary is a nine-bay space with a central bimah supported by four pillars and a ceiling covered with splendid ornamental decoration. The most interesting artifact is a Hebrew dedicatory plaque on the western wall above the entrance. Its poetic text provides information about the donor and the date of construction. The synagogue served for many years as a hardware store, until it was restored by the owner, the Federation of Jewish Communities in Slovakia, thanks to public funding, predominantly from EEA Grants provided by Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein to preserve important heritage sites in our region of Europe.
Owing to a pair of local activists, Pavol and Peter Hudák, educational and cultural activities are taking place here. After the heating plant preservation and excavation of the oldest mikvah, the beit midrash building is currently under restoration. Built in the late nineteenth century, it served for Torah study and as a prayer hall. The ritual bath, dating from the same period, forms the front building of the compound, facing the street. A memorial plaque to Holocaust victims was unveiled here in 1991. Next to the compound stands the Holocaust memorial, listing victims from Bardejov and the surrounding area. The memorial was built by the Bardejov Jewish Preservation Committee under the leadership of Mr. Emil Fish from the United States.