We entered the courtyard of the house next to the Fabric synagogue slowly, looking for the lady who we thought was taking care of the edifice. Mrs. Steliana D. has been living here for 15 years, and shies away from telling us stories.

‘No one came in here. Absolutely no one. The ones who held the service, held it here, in the little synagogue (p.n. the ground floor building in the synagogue’s yard), but since last year, no one else came (p.n. the Jewish Community members). They don’t come here anymore.’

She used to work at the synagogue. ‘I was a cleaning lady here, but now I can’t do it anymore. Some of them died (p.n. Jewish Community members), there are few left and they hold the service at their Community. There’s nothing to see there (p.n. in the synagogue). You can’t go in, it’s closed anyway’. The synagogue was opened a few times by kids in the neighbourhood, who ‘smashed everything and wrote horrible things on the walls’, which is why now it is completely closed. ‘They went inside and nailed the doors. Now I can’t go in either, I don’t even have a key. Here, in the back, there used to be a way in, but now that’s gone too.’

The house she lives in used to be a retirement home belonging to the Jewish community in Fabric. ‘Here, at this little synagogue, they used to come and hold serviced on Saturdays. And sometimes during the week, in the first years; there were 13 people, had prayer in the morning and in the evening. It was really hard for me back then. After a while, they didn’t come as often. They must be either five, seven, or nine to have a service, otherwise they don’t.’

Mrs. D. moved to Timișoara from Caracal. When she got here ‘there was no bakery, only shops. Butchers, markets and greengrocers. Ever since the grocers on the tram lines closed, I don’t know where it moved. I have what I need around here.’. Her health condition doesn’t allow her to walk around the neighbourhood too much. She does remember that when she moved there ‘this park was beautiful, now it’s not anymore’. She also told us that there was a club next to the synagogue. ‘The music was raging. You could only hear the drums, making the windows go like this… they shut it down’.

We were looking towards the synagogue, trying to picture it in the old times, when it was still functional, when people could still go inside. ‘If I had had a key, I would have taken you inside (inside the ground floor building in the yard) to see. There are no paintings here, nothing; just benches. Over there, not even that. That’s where they used to eat cookies. But there were 3 rows of benched there. That’s the prayer hall, where they came in the morning and in the evening. In the other, only on Saturdays. They came at 9AM and finished by 11:30. On Fridays, they used to bring water, juice, and cookies.’

We thanked Mrs. D. for the stories. We left with some freshly gathered plums, thinking of a new Friday, when the synagogue will have water, juice, and cookies once more.

Photo credits: Flavius Neamciuc/ Prin Banat Association (2015)