Restoration works continue in the Synagogue of Híjar
Driven by an initiative of the scientific committee of the 1st International Colloquium “Moreshet: Insights on Jewish Heritage” organized in Híjar in 2016, an archaeological excavation was carried out in the church of Saint Anthony. This excavationconfirmed the hypothesis that it was the former synagogue of Híjar and revealed many elements constitutive of a synagogue, including the basis of a bimah and the Aaron ha-Kodesh and proved that the main remaining structural elements, from the floor to the ceiling belong to the Medieval synagogue. Moreover, the excavation unmasked medieval wall paintings showing a menorah and Hebrew letters from a verse in the Psalms.
Following these findings, the Department of Territorial articulation, mobility and housing at the Government of Aragon allocated a €107.922,65 budget to continue the restoration of the building. Eighty per cent of the previewed works have been completed already, including the consolidation of the choir and sacristy (additions belonging to the church of Saint Anthony), and the lining of the walls. However, some actions are still pending execution such as the reparation of the entrance door, the handrail and the grilles, improving accesses to the mezzanine floor along with the installation of an electricity and fire protection system. The arched entrance to the Jewish quarter which is adjacent to the synagogue will also be refurbished and the authorities are currently identifying appropriate professionals to conduct this second part of planned actions.
Wallpaintings, detail Wallpaintings, detail interior of the Synagogue after the archaeological works
Once all structural and architectural elements are duly refurbished, the town council aims at continuing archaeological research of the areas that have not been studied yet , to restore and protect the wall paintings and create a plan that will give the former synagogue of Híjar a new and sustainable use and celebrate its Jewish history.