Unique in the Europe of these times, the Baal Shem Tov Cathedral Synagogue, built in 1763, is one of the most important patrimony buildings in Piatra Neamt. The local legend says the rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, known as Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), founder of Hasidism, withdrew himself into Ceahlau Mountains, and on Sabbath day he descended to pray at the synagogue. Newer research done during the renovation works in 2007-2009 found that it was built on the site of an older stone synagogue dating back to the 16th century. The shape of a rectangular vessel and the techniques of joining thick fir beams used show that during the construction, the craftsmen who raised the wooden churches from Bistrita Valley participated. Among the vestiges of worship preserved inside the synagogue, exhibited in the museum organized in the former women’s balcony, there is a curtain with inscriptions sewn from 1767, the Holy Urn dating back to 1835 and carved in hardwood, Torah, ritual vessels, prayer books and other ritual objects. The Baal Shem Tov Synagogue is the only wooden synagogue in Eastern Europe whose architecture is kept intact, and where the worship was continuously done, even though the Jewish community in the area varied in size. Currently, the synagogue is the place where cultural activities related to the history of the Jews in Piatra Neamţ and throughout Romania (exhibitions, symposiums, movie evenings, book launches) are organized, the cultural and historical summoning, helping to preserve the religious identity and the identity of the people.


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