The synagogue in Sofia is situated in the very heart of the Bulgarian capital. It is the third largest in Europe, next to the synagogues in Budapest and Amsterdam. Designed by Austrian architect Grunander in a Spanish-Moresque style, the temple resembles the Vienna synagogue destroyed by the Nazis. It was opened on 9 September 1909, and the ceremony was attended by tzar Ferdinand and tzaritza Eleonora.

One of the most beautiful architectural monuments in Sofia, the synagogue accommodates 1300 worshippers. Its central lustre weighs two tons and is the largest in Bulgaria. For already several years the synagogue has been under restoration - because of the complexity of the work and the shortage of funds. Its restoration is soon to be finished, and now the synagogue is shining in all its splendour. The project has been financed by the Bulgarian state and Israel, by private entrepreneurs and individual donations.

In spite of the enormous size of the building, public worships in it are attended by not more 50-60 persons. This is due, on the one hand, to the thinner Jewish community, and, on the other, to the relatively lower religiousness of the local Jewish population. Nevertheless, as a result of a renewed interest in the past and faith of their ancestors, an increasing number of young people now attend the divine services. Certainly, on great festive days, hundreds of people gather here, including high officials of non-Jewish origin. 

There are about a dozen of synagogues in Bulgaria, but only these in Sofia and Plovdiv are active. Given that before World War II there were 10-15 rabbis and double that number of hazans, today the rabbi is only one, and - "commissioned" by Israel at that. This creates great difficulties for believers out of the capital city, but, regretfully, even the one or two  hazans that have graduated abroad, prefer to practice lay professions.

The synagogue in Sofia

The ritual circumcision of boys is done by two surgeons, specially trained in Israel.