01 July 2015

No more Judo at the Synagogue of... (Varna - 3919 km)

(Varna, 27.06.2015 - 28.06.2015) This is the modern reconstruction of the Ashkenazi synagogue of Varna. The Jewish community in Varna had two synagogues. The Sephardi synagogue was the first to be established at the end of the 19th century. A smaller synagogue served the Ashkenazi Jews. From the article The Jewish Community of Varna by Beit Hatfusot we learn on these synagogues as follows: "The two synagogues, the Ashkenazi and Sephardi, were nationalized. The Sephardi synagogue, around which the Jewish community was established, was used as a boxing ring for many years. By late 1990’s it was a ruin with only the exterior walls still standing. The Ashkenazi synagogue was used until the beginning of the 1990’s as Judo club. During late 1990, both synagogues were deserted and badly in need of restoration."

Varna was the port of registry for a small ship with a long history. It was launched as SS Xantha, but subsequently carried the names SS Sölyst, SS Sea Maid, SS Kafireus, SS Esperos, Makedoniya and finally MV Struma. As Struma she tried to take nearly 800 Jewish refugees from Romania to Palestine in December 1941. Turkey detained her in Istanbul because Britain refused to admit her passengers to Palestine. In February 1942 a Soviet submarine torpedoed and sank Struma in the Black Sea after Turkish authorities had towed her out to sea and cast her adrift. We'll keep following Struma's course and her fate down to Istanbul.

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