Taking a virtual tour of Romania’s Jewish history

STEPPING inside Romania’s Fabric Synagogue in real life would be a dangerous proposition: closed since 1986, the ornate 1899 structure in the heart of the city of Timisoara is crumbling inside.

Online is a different story. There, visitors to the Fabric Synagogue can look up at the domed cupola, its stained glass still intact even as holes dot the ceiling, and approach the ark, its closed doors leaving the illusion that a Torah might be contained inside.

They can climb to the balcony and look out over the Hebrew letters still affixed to walls, then turn their gaze to the massive graffiti tag that occupies one whole wall of the second floor. They can even check out the synagogue’s dust-laden organ before walking into the Timisoara sunshine and strolling to the municipal parks along the Bega River just a block away.

The virtual tour is one of eight launched recently to give people the chance to immerse themselves in a world that is no more: that of the non-Orthodox Jewish communities that developed under the Habsburg Empire in the western part of today’s Romania.

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