The Synagogue



Date(s) of Construction : 1840

Alba Iulia was the first city in Transylvania which allowed Jewish people to settle on its territory, a fact approved by Prince Gabriel Bethlen (1613-1629) and consequently the rabbi in Alba Iulia was acknowledged as leader of the Jews subsequently settling in other villages and cities in Ardeal. Only Sephardi Jews coming from the Ottoman Empire existed in Alba Iulia until the end of the 18th century. Towards the end of the same century, the Ashkenazim Jews coming from Poland, Moravia, Hungary and Spain became majority. The first wood synagogue was mentioned in 1656 by the Swedish traveler Hildebrandt.

The construction of the synagogue in the lower part of the city at no. 2, Tudor Vladimirescu Street began in 1822, during the time of Rabbi Menahem Mendel Josef, with the permission of Ignatius Negyes, the Catholic Bishop of Transylvania. The construction of the Mareh Yezekiel Synagogue was finished in 1840 being the first masonry synagogue in Transylvania. It is composed of a grand sanctuary (Heikal), a podium (Bimah) lying in the middle and used by the preacher to read from the Torah, a vestibule (Ulam) above which we find the seating area reserved to women and an altar (Aron Kodes) located to the East or the Tabernacle with the Thora scrolls. The synagogue still preserves the rooms once used as a prison, a result of exerting its judge attributions.