Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A weekend in Medias

One of the many things we uncovered, an old Socialist Romanian flag

I spent the past weekend in Medias helping with the cleanup of a synagogue that has been slated for restoration. Jewish culture in Romania, though thriving in the early 20th century, was virtually eradicated in the latter half of the century. What remains are forgotten skeletons such as this Synagogue in Medias, unused for decades, and perhaps a handful of Jews, if any remain at all.

At one point while we were working in the synagogue, an adolescent boy walked in off the streets, noticing that the door--which is usually locked--was open. He looked around, admiring everything he saw with a sort of distant bewilderment. His face that told you he wasn't really sure what to make of the unfamiliar surroundings. "Is this some kind of church?" he asked, adding, "it must be very old."

In fact Medias's synagogue was built in 1896, which isn't so long ago in the grand scheme of things. However, that young man's ignorance/curiosity illustrates just how forgotten and marginalized Romanian-Jewish history has become. This particular synagogue has been vacant since sometime in the 1970's, perhaps even earlier. Every surface on the interior was covered in thick layers of black dust, and the floors were strewn with old prayer books, photographs and documents, hastily stowed and obviously neglected for ages. In a way, it was like time had frozen there, which was eerie, not to mention sad. It was our job to clean the place up a bit, to sort through everything and salvage what we could.

Check out the photos below. You can click on the slideshow to access the photo album.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely magnificent Mike. You told me about your adventure when we talked on Wednesday, but these pictures really make it all come alive. Absolutely beautiful. You make me feel like I'm there!
Love you,

Anonymous said...

Great photos! The art work in the synagogue was beautiful, its a shame to see it decaying like that.


chris said...

these were really wonderful photos! it reminds me a little bit of biertan, although they've had time to clean up more. really, really, nice shots~