The Winter Synagogue

The so-called “small” synagogue is located on the ground floor of the building of the Jewish Community which was built in 1904. The building was built immediately after the construction of the great synagogue, according to the projects of Budapest architects Marcell Komor and Dezső Jakab, who, in addition to the “great” synagogue, designed the Subotica Town House and a series of spa facilities in Palić. 

Although the name of this synagogue is always accompanied by the adjective “small”, its capacity is not so small. In the synagogue, there are about 120 seats in the pews surrounding the bimah with the shulchan (an elevated platform with a table on which the Torah scrolls are unfolded). By opening the large wooden doors that make up the entire southern wall, the synagogue expands to the entire ceremonial hall. We should not forget about twenty places in the women’s gallery. All in all, in the cold winter months, a two hundred worshipers could attend the service. 

On the eastern wall, the wall facing Jerusalem, is the aron ha’kodesh, the Ark of the Covenant where the Torah scrolls are kept. On the same wall, two stained glass windows are dominated by representations of Noah’s Ark, the Dove of Peace and the dome of Solomon’s Temple. 

The walls and ceiling of the small synagogue are richly decorated with meticulous wall paintings with motifs of floral patterns and stars of David, of which there are about 2000. When this synagogue was restored in 1996, it was a great challenge and a demanding process. With knowledge of the restoration process, skilled craftsmen and quality materials, the restoration was completed in four months. 

The small synagogue was also a shul (school). It is known that before the Second World War,  services for school-boys were held in it – so that the boys could learn the whole synagogue ordinance. They were held on Saturdays and the classes were led by a rabbi. 

Today, the Shiah Tzibur leads the service on Friday evenings for Shabbat as well as on all holidays. Apart from the Belgrade synagogue, this is the only synagogue in Serbia where religious services are held today.

The small synagogue is not open for tourist visits.