Bucharest Jewish Heritage Private Tour (3 hrs)
Tour the major Jewish landmarks in Bucharest and learn the story of the Jewish habitation in Bucharest and Romania with a personal guide.
The Jewish history in Bucharest is as old as the city itself. Toward the turn of the 20th century Jews formed an important part of the city’s population, reaching as much as 11 percent in 1930. The once large Jewish community was scattered following the tragedies of the WWII, the hardness of the communist regime and the emigration to Israel.
Jews were never imposed restrictions of residence in Bucharest, and inhabited all areas of the city, living together with other ethnic groups and the local Romanian population. However, they naturally concentrated in the vicinity of the commercial heart of the city. This Jewish Quarter was heavily affected during the massive 1980s demolitions, when it was literally wiped out to make way for the new Communist Civic Center.
- • The Great Polish Synagogue, major landmark of Bucharest’s Jewish Quarter and exquisite historical and architectural monument (visit)
- • The Holocaust Museum (set up inside the Great Synagogue)
- • The Choral Temple (visit; one of the most beautiful synagogues in Romania, recently reopened following thorough restoration works)
- • The Holy Union Temple (“Ahdut Kodesh”), today The History Museum of the Romanian Jews (exterior look only, as it currently undergoes restoration works)
Duration 3 hours
Price 90 EUR/tour/1-4 people, on request for larger groups
What is included
– guide service
– transportation from your location to the starting point of the tour and back to your place of choice at the end of the tour
Not included 10 Lei/person the admission fee at the Choral Temple; a small donation is expected at the Great Synagogue;
Meeting location I will pick you up from your hotel at the agreed time between 9:00 – 11:00 AM
Drop-off at your hotel
The Jewish Bucharest Tour is totally flexible and in addition to the above program it could be geared toward your specific interest.
If you have a more personal interest in visiting Bucharest, please let me know. I can try to help you in identifying specific sites, prior to your arrival.
! ALL SYNAGOGUES ARE CLOSED ON SATURDAYS.
Please scroll down the page for the description of the tour.
First stop at the History Museum of the Romanian Jews housed in the old Tailor’s synagogue. The museum various artifacts, documents, old photos and other exhibits on display explain about the life and history of the Jews not only in Bucharest, but on the whole territory of present-day Romania. [The synagogue housing the History Museum of the Romanian Jews currently undergoes renovation works, so we will only see it from exterior and I will give you a short overview of the history of the Jews in Romania]
We continue the tour with the Great Polish Synagogue, once the center of the local Jewish community’s religious and social life. The Great Synagogue shelters the Holocaust Museum, documenting about pogroms, deportations and sufferings inflicted on the Jews in Romania during wartime.
Next, short walk to the iconic Jewish State Theater, known as Baraseum Theater. We will see it from exterior, as it is currently being redone. Baraseum Theater is inheritor of a long and proud tradition of the Yiddish-language theater in Romania, and it still operates, albeit currently in other locations as it undergoes much needed restoration works.
Your Bucharest Jewish Tour continues with a visit of the Choral Temple, recently reopened to the public after years of careful restoration. The Choral Temple, now an active synagogue again, is considered one of the most beautiful synagogues in Eastern Europe.
At the end of the tour, stopover at the Holocaust Memorial monument, inaugurated in 2004 to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and deportations in Romania.
Baraseum, the State Jewish Theater
This building situated in the center of an area devastated by the 1980s demolitions, hardly recognizable in its actual urban context, is emblematic of the former Jewish Quarter. Still known as “Baraseum”, it served as home to the legendary Baraseum Theater, the Jewish theater that miraculously arose and activated in the time of full Nazi terror during the WWII. When in September 1940 the far-right fascist party “The Iron Guard” came to power, all the Yiddish-language companies were banned, and Jews were prohibited from acting in Yiddish and from appearing on Romanian stages. Yet permission was obtained to start a single Jewish theater in Bucharest, provided that performances would be held only in Romanian. Baraseum carried on its work during the war years despite all difficult conditions, achieving a tremendous success, becoming a refuge of hope and moral resistance for the then numerous local Jewish community.
With the abolition of the anti-Jewish legislation in 1945 Baraseum Theater company closed, and in 1948 was founded the current Jewish Theater subsidized by the state.
The State Jewish Theater is the only one of a national minority currently functioning in the capital city of Romania.
(THE STATE JEWISH THEATER CURRENTLY UNDERGOES RESTORATION WORKS AND CAN NOT BE SEEN)
The Choral Temple (1867)
The façade of the Choral Temple, initially built in 1867, is a perfect reminder of the now vanished Great Leopoldstadt Temple in Vienna, which was the consecrated model for the worship edifices of the Jewish communities in Central and Eastern Europe. The architecture is preserved intact to our days, despite it being repeatedly vandalised and damaged. The interior is stunning, but the Choral Temple is currently closed due to ongoing restoration works.
Great Polish Synagogue (1847)
The Great Polish Synagogue was built by the Ashkenazi Polish-Jewish community. Located in the heart of the former Jewish Quarter, the Great Synagogue was always at the center of the community’s religious and social life. Like most of the other synagogues it was damaged more than a few times. In the early 20th century, the synagogue was redesigned by one of the greatest Romanians architects, Petre Antonescu. In the 1980s, in the last decade of the communist regime when the area was rashly destroyed, the Great Synagogue was obscured behind a “wall” of eight-story apartment buildings. The Great Synagogue, important historical and architectural monument, restored in recent years, houses since 1991 the Holocaust Museum. Until the reopening of the Choral Temple it temporarily functions as a worship place as well.
Holy Union Temple (Ahdut Kodesh) – The History Museum of the Romanian Jews
The History Museum of the Romanian Jews is housed in a former worship place, the Holy Union Temple, previously the Tailors’ Great Synagogue, built a century and a half ago and rebuilt in the first decade of the 20th century. Set up as a Museum of Jewish Communities in Romania in 1978, in the “dark period” of the communist totalitarian regime, the building was spared the fate of the neighborhood, which was much damaged during the 1980s demolitions. The exhibits largely reflect the life and history of the Romanian Jews, while highlighting their substantial contribution to modern Romania’s economy and culture. On display are objects of synagogal art (Torah ornaments, candlesticks, Hanukkah candle holders, textiles) and ritual artifacts, models of old synagogues -some of them vanished, archive photos, valuable paintings and drawings. Remarkably, the History Museum of the Romanian Jews is the sole history museum of an ethnic minority in Bucharest.