…Old Jewish Synagogue | Stari jevrejski hram…
Nestled within the historic walls of the oldest synagogue in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Jewish Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina offers a captivating journey into the rich Jewish heritage of the region, a magnificent building built in 1581, when the Beglerbeg Sijabuš Pasha of Rumelia gave money to build a large housing facility for the Jewish poor of Sarajevo (the facility was known as Sijabuš Pasha’s daira, or Great courtyard).
By the end of the 16th century, the first synagogue, the Old Jewish Temple, was built in the Velika Avlija area. This is the oldest synagogue on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of three from the period of the Ottoman Empire, it is among the most beautiful monuments of Jewish culture in this area. The original appearance of the Great Temple is not fully known because fires changed its appearance several times. During the Second World War, the synagogue was turned into a prison.
A Cultural Gem
Since 1966, after restoration, it has become a museum, when it hosted its first exhibition, commemorating 400 years since the arrival of the Sephardic Jews in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The museum’s setting is itself a work of art, considered one of the most beautiful exhibition spaces across the entire former Yugoslavia which bears witness to the enduring presence of the Jewish community in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Preserving a Legacy
The first floor of Museum shows the cultural life of Jews, those persons and personalities who left a mark not only in Jewish history, but in general the history of Sarajevo in various fields, such as literature and science.
Among its treasures, the most valuable and ancient exhibit is the Silver Plate or Torah Shield, a true masterpiece.
Remembering the Past
The second floor of the museum is dedicated to the tragic events of World War II.
Hanging from the ceiling is the monumental “Book of Suffering,” which contains the names of 12,000 Jews who perished during the Holocaust, with 6,000 from Sarajevo and 6,000 from other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Among these documents are the names of the Righteous Among the Nations, Bosnian citizens who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.
…New Jewish Synagogue | Novi jevrejski hram…
In close proximity to the Old Temple is the New Temple (Il Kal Muevus), constructed around 1820 to accommodate the growing number of worshipers in Sarajevo. Today, it serves as an art gallery.
A Synagogue Tapestry
While the New Temple and the Old Temple, now the Jewish Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, provide captivating insights into the past, Sarajevo boasts two more synagogues, the Grand New Jewish Temple – Templ (today Bosnian Cultural Center) and the Ashkenazi Synagogue that add depth to its diverse cultural landscape.