Torah scroll at Czech synagogue
Torah scroll at Czech synagogueiStock

A historic Czech synagogue has been re-inaugurated after three years of reconstruction.

The Great Synagogue of Pilsen was restored at a cost of around $4.5 million (CZK 100 million). The synagogue is the second largest in Europe and one of the five largest in the world.

To celebrate the synagogue’s reopening, a parade took place through the Pilsen starting from the city’s Old Synagogue, Czech news site Seznam Zprávy reported.

The parade of hundreds of people included bringing a Torah scroll and the five books of Moses dating from 1896 to the newly opened historic synagogue. The Torah was carried during the procession by Czech Chief Rabbi Karol Sidon.

In the parade were also rabbis and members of Jewish communities from all over the Czech Republic. They walked down the street singing Psalms of David.

Once at the Great Synagogue, the chair of Pilsen’s Jewish community, Jiří Löwy, carried the Torah into the synagogue sanctuary.

The Pilsen Jewish community has 98 members, according to its vice president Roman Štix.

The Great Synagogue building, with two 45-meter towers, was built between 189 and 1893 when the city had a population of 2,500 Jews. The newly renovated synagogue will house a permanent collection entitled “Here Lived the Jews.” Eight display windows will contain 1,800 photos of Jewish life in the Pilsen area.

Daily services were held at the synagogue until 1941. It was not destroyed by the Nazis because they used it to store confiscated Jewish property.

For years, the building was used by the city of Pilsen as a museum and concert venue. In 2016, the government agreed to give the building back to the Jewish community after over a decade of lobbying by community representatives.