The Shalom Organisation of the Jews in Bulgaria has decided to donate the synagogue in Vidin, a port town in north-western Bulgaria on the banks of the Danube, to the municipality.
This emerged at a meeting between Shalom secretary-general Yosif Melamed and Vidin mayor Ognyan Tsenkov.
“Let this be one of our contributions to the development of Vidin,” Melamed said, expressing hope for prospects for the future of the city.
Built in 1894 in the neo-Gothic architectural style, the synagogue in Vidin was the second-largest Jewish house of worship in Bulgaria. It was confiscated by the communist regime in Bulgaria after World War 2.
After World War 2, with the coming of the communist regime and the founding of the State of Israel, many Bulgarian Jews moved from the country to Israel.
In 2009, ownership was transferred by the Ministry of Culture to Shalom. Three years later, the ministry announced plans to transform the building, which long since has fallen into serious disrepair, into a museum complex named after Vidin-born Jewish artist Jules Pascin.
The announcement of Shalom’s decision, taken on March 9, to donate the building to Vidin municipality came as the city hosted an exhibition dedicated to the contribution of Bulgarian Orthodox Church Vidin Metropolitan Neofit to the 1943 prevention of the deportation of Bulgarian Jews to the Holocaust.
Metropolitan Neofit has been nominated to join other Bulgarian church, political and civil leaders of the time to be honoured with the title “Righteous Among the Nations”, conferred on non-Jews who showed courage to oppose the Holocaust in which more than six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis.
Procedurally, steps must now be taken to table documentation for the Vidin city council to accept the donation.
Mayor Tsenkov said that the synagogue was one of the most symbolic monuments of Vidin “and it should not continue in such a state”. He said that he had no doubt that the municipality would accept the donation because everyone in Vidin, not only the local Jewish community, wanted the synagogue restored.
(Main photo: Anton Lefterov)