150th Anniversary of the Budapest Dohány Street Synagogue
150 years to the day after its consecration on September 6, 1859, the National Bank of Hungary issued a 5,000 forint silver coin in honor of the Dohány Street Synagogue. Now ranked as one of the top ten sights in Budapest, the Dohány Street Synagogue is the largest synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world. (The largest is New York’s Temple Emanuel). It was built from 1854-59 based on the plans of architects Frigyes Feszl and Ludwig Förster. It was designed like a basilica with dimensions of about 175 by 87 feet and a style, while essentially Moorish, also displaying a somewhat eclectic mix of Byzantine, Romantic and Gothic influences. A pair of onion-shaped domes rest atop twin octagonal towers 141 feet high. Between them and over the main entrance is a rose stained-glass window (shown on the top coin above)..
The interior has three spacious and ornate aisles with two balconies with seats for women worshippers, and, unusual for a Jewish house of worship, an organ. Feszl’s ark and the frescoes are made of colored and golden geometric shapes. The ark holds 25 torah scrolls said to be taken from other synagogues destroyed during the Holocaust. Capacity of the synagogue is 5,000 (3,000 plus 2,000 standing room).
Dohány Synagogue has had a rich, but also a tragic history. It was the scene of celebrations in May 1896 for the 1000th anniversary of the Hungarian Conquest, and memorial services for important personalities in the 19th century. Franz Liszt and Camille Saint-Saëns were among those who played its organ. In March 1944, the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann came to Budapest to oversee the establishment of the Jewish ghetto and the deportations. For a time, his office was behind the rose window in the women's balcony. As many as 20,000 Jews took refuge inside the synagogue complex during the war, but 7,000 of them perished during the winter of 1944-45. These victims are buried in the courtyard.
During the Communist era, windows were broken and the synagogue was boarded up. An ambitious restoration was recently completed, with the financial assistance of the worldwide Jewish community including many Hungarian-American Jews, including Tony Curtis and Estée Lauder. The building's original magnificence is now fully restored. Today, the The Dohány Synagogue is still Hungarian Judaism’s most important religious center as well as a cultural center for a variety of liturgical, organ and Klezmer concerts.
Face Value: 5,000 Ft.
Metal: .925 silver
Weight: 31.46 g