Kazinczy Street Synagogue

Budapest, Hungary | C.1913

Photo Credit: Daphne Pauwels

Built in the days before World War I, the Kazinczy Street Synagogue has since become the religious cultural center of the Orthodox branch of the Pest Jewish community. Along with its significance as a center of traditional Orthodox Jewish life, the Synagogue is noted for its decidedly Art Nouveau architecture.

In 1868, Hungarian Orthodox Jews declared themselves independent of Progressive and Conservative Judaism. At the time, Orthodoxy had emerged because religious Jews felt they were at risk and wanted to preserve the way of life of their predecessors. Within two years, the Orthodox organization gained state recognition in Hungary.

By the turn of the 20th century, Budapest’s Orthodox community grew quickly as people began to relocate from the countryside. The new Orthodox residents settled in and began working as retailers, artisans, and community workers. The community continued to expand and by 1909, the elders called for a new synagogue. They sought a complex with a community center, kindergarten, school, and public kitchen.

The elders held a design competition for the new structure and two brothers – Sándor and Béla Löffler were declared winners. They had been inspired by Viennese Art Nouveau and Hungarian architect Ödön Lechner, known for his Art Nouveau nationalist architecture involving tile patterns inspired by old Magyar and Turkic folk art. After one year of construction, the Synagogue was complete.

Almost immediately following, Budapest faced political collapse, WW1 began, and the synagogue and their community would suffer severe damage during WW2. The building was later restored, and decades after, the Hungarian Orthodoxy was officially reorganized in 1993. Since 2012, the Synagogue is a state-recognized historical building.

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