The 18 emblematic sites of the Mission patrimoine en péril carried by Stéphane Bern have just been unveiled. They will benefit from the financial support of the sixth edition, which will be launched in September 2023. In Normandy, the synagogue of Elbeuf was chosen.
Elbeuf Synagogue, a historical and heritage landmark
The arrival of Alsatian industrialists in Elbeuf after the annexation of Alsace and Moselle in 1871 marked the establishment of a Jewish community in the city. They bring with them their know-how in the textile industry, which will greatly benefit the local area. Worship was first celebrated in two private oratories before the current synagogue was built in 1909. Built thanks to the gift of Alphonse Haas, it represents the culmination of the «ecclesial model» defined by Dominique Jarrassé (specialist in French Jewish heritage and art historian). This type of plan, modelled on that of a church, is about to be abandoned on the eve of the First World War to return to a bimah (reading table) placed in the center of the building.
In 1941, the synagogue was requisitioned and transformed into a stable. It became the target of anti-Semitic acts: broken windows and yellow stars painted on the exterior facade, still preserved today. Some works carried out during the years 1960-70 allow to welcome again the faithful between 1980 and 1995. But the synagogue was once again closed, partly because of its state of disrepair. It was listed as a historic monument in 2009. Today, the building is probably one of the last in France still bearing the stigma of anti-Semitism of the Occupation years. It is a precious testimony of the importance of the Israeli community of the city of Elbeuf, and more particularly of the large families who contributed to the expansion of the city through the textile industry, Today, the industrial heritage is experiencing a renewal through numerous reconversions.
A cultural place
The City, the religious association and the cultural association of the Friends of the Synagogue of Elbeuf wish to enhance the site so that it is more than a place of worship where services, bar-mitsvah, weddings and religious festivals are celebrated. The goal is that it will also become a cultural place: the project is to create a museum recalling the history of Judaism in Elbeuf. Other cultural activities, around dance or calligraphy, could complete the program.
State of peril
All the buildings of the synagogue suffer from major disorders related to a lack of maintenance and wear of materials. Most are related to a lack of waterproofing of roofs and poor stormwater management. The cheesy ones are failing, cluttered and come to alter the exterior masonry, which threatens to fall, as well as the interior spaces that have various deteriorated cladding, a condemned staircase, etc. In addition, many floors collapsed as a result of repeated rainwater seepage.
The nature of the work to be carried out
The proposed restoration proposes the preservation of the 1909 state, respecting the provisions of the building in the 20th century and preserving the stigma left by the Second World War, while developing the necessary devices and equipment to welcome the public. A first section deals with the urgent work of restoration of roofs and frames. Work will continue (excluding Heritage Mission), with:
- Restoration of the facades of the buildings on the street and of the extension: purging of the coatings, treatment of the masonry, cleaning and joining with lime mortar;
- Restoration of the bimah, the prayer room, the staircase to the women’s gallery, the vestibule, the south room, the galley, the staircase leading to the rabbi’s apartment and the apartment itself.
Start of works: 2024