In Budapest there are almost 20 operating synagogues, including the second largest in the World, the Dohány Street Synagogue. In Hungary we have 2 types of synagogues differing in the allocation of the Torah reading table, the language of the service and the degree of separation of the sexes.
In Orthodox synagogues the Torah reading table is in the middle. Women and men can not be in the same premises. The rabbi speaks Yiddish, they reject clerical clothing, the cassock and organ as well.
In Neolog synagogues the Torah reading table is in the front, in front of the Ark. The women are still separated from the men, however only in different pews, not in a different room. Following the example of the scholar and rabbi Lipót Löw, the language of the service is Hungarian, as a very few people speak or understand Yiddish today. The organ raises the glory of the prayers and the rabbi wears a cassock.
The Jewish Triangle of Budapest
Dohany Street Synagouge
Dohany Street Synagouge is the largest synagogue in Europe and the world’s second largest Jewish temple, following Temple Emanuel-El in New York. The buildig was designed by a German architect, Ludwig Förster, teacher at the Vienna Academy; it shows features of Moorish style. Ignac Wechselmann was in charge of the construction. Frigyes Feszl, the famous architect of the Vigado, was entrusted with the interior design. The concecration of the synagogue took place on September the 6th, 1859. The indoor area is 1200 square meters, the two towers are 44 meters high, there are 1497 seats for the men downstairs, and 1472 for the women on the two balconies. The spread of the naves is 12 meters. This synagogue is the temple of the Neolog Jews.
The architectural style of the synagogues reflect the assimilation of the Hungarian Jewry, Christian elements are mixed in with the Jewish tradition. This architectural design spread with the Neolog ideas. On the site of the Jewish Museum today, right next to the synagogue, there used to be an apartment block where Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism was born. The Dohány Street Synagogue is also the centre of the Jewish Summer Festival, as it provides a place for many of the concerts during the event. The Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra also often gives concerts with the Budapest Klezmer Band in the Grand Synagogue as well.
Kazinczy Street Synagouge
Budapest, VII. Kazinczy u. 29-31. (Included in Grand tour)
The masterpiece of the late Art Nouveau architecture built between 1912–13 according to the plans of the Löffler brothers. The most characteristic synagogue is part of a complex including a school and communal Hall built in 1911. This is the center of the Orthodox community. This synagogue is the main building of the Othodox centre, which is like a small village in the heart of the Jewish ghetto. Approaching the synagogue kosher shops, kosher butcher and even the only mikve (ritual bath) of Budapest can be found.
Rumbach Street Synagouge
The Rumbach Street Synagogue’s romantic, Moorish architectural elements are a response to the building of the Dohány Street Synagogue. In the Synagogue triangle of Budapest, it is known as the small Synagogue (the big Synagogue is in Dohány Street) as it is similar to the jewel of the Neolog movement, the Dohány Street Synagogue. The Synagogue was built between 1869-1872 financed by public contributions, designed by the Austrian Otto Wagner, leader architect of the Viennese Art Nouveau.
Between 1868-69 the Jewish Congress took place, where the 3 major Jewish organizations of Hungary were founded. The largest became the more modern Neolog, the extremely conservatives joined the orthodox movement, the middle-of-the-roaders became known as the status quo. The Neolog Grand Synagogue is the Dohány, built in 1859. Even Franz Liszt played on its famous organ. The main temple of the status quo movement was built in Rumbach Street in 1872 designed by Otto Wagner, the pioneer of Viennese Art Nouveau. The orthodox synagogue of Budapest, the Kazinczy was built in 1913 along with the orthodox community hall by the Löffler brothers.