Today's Rijeka synagogue, the Small Orthodox Synagogue was erected and opened in 1932.
Even though its location was only a couple of hundred meters from the Great Synagogue, it managed to see the end of the war without damage. Today it is the only existing temple of its kind in Croatia from the period of Modernism. The architects Vittorio Angyal and Pietro Fabbro take all the credit for its appearance.
The first version of the project was designed in September 1930. The second version from June 1931 offered a more constructive modern solution, but the third version was the final one with simple lines, a modernist spirit, elements of Mediterranean influence and associations of ''art deco'' details. The evidence for this are the windows with stepped-pyramidal endings and a relief motif of the Star of David above them.
The interior of this place of worship is divided into an anteroom and a part intended for ceremonies in three sections, with three windows on the side of the building. The gallery on the balcony was imagined as a space with a separate entrance and this is where women listened to the ceremonies.
In 2008, the perennial renovation of the synagogue was completed and its original appearance was restored. A novelty is an unobtrusive glass partition on the balcony, set so the space can be used for various social and cultural events.
Today, the temple in Rijeka is the only purpose-built synagogue in Croatia. It is protected as immovable cultural heritage.
Rijeka Synagogue disappeared in the midst of war
A special committee of the Jewish religious community in Rijeka began collecting voluntary contributions for the building of a Jewish temple and the purchase of the necessary land in 1890. In 1891, a few thousand florins had already been collected. The action lasted for ten years. In December 1900, the project of the temple to be was designed by the architect W. Stiassny from Wienna.
The designed temple was supposed to be built in the Moorish style with a dome. The construction spot had already been purchased at the intersection of Kapucinska Street (now Ciottina Street) and Zagrad Street (now Pomerio) on the former Cambieri Square.
In May 1901, the Jewish community decided to assign someone else to the project, also a distinguished creator, the architect Leopold (Lipot) Baumhorn from Budapest, whose blueprints were used by a builder from Rijeka, the engineer Carlo Conighi when the construction started in November 1902 after the municipality of Rijeka decided to issue a building permit on 8 October 1902.
Lipot Baumhorn (1860-1932) completed his studies at the Polytechnic in Vienna and specialised in the design of Jewish synagogues. Around twenty Jewish temples were built in the Hungarian territory according to his designs. Because the documentation of the Jewish religious community was destroyed during the war, it is impossible to find out why the committee of Rijeka changed the architect but, if the two designs are compared, you could say that they were on the same artistic level.
A lawyer from Rijeka, Dr. Enrico Sachs stood out during the overall effort and organization of collecting contributions for the construction of this magnificent building. During the time he represented the Jewish religious community in front of the municipality of Rijeka, and he handled all the correspondence. From the petition to the Magistrate for permission to build the temple, we learn that the Jewish religious community in Rijeka amounted to 2,500 souls in 1901 and such a number of followers undoubtedly required a befitting temple.
The community did not have sufficient funds to build the holy temple, so they asked others for help, regardless of their religious views. The community also kept in mind that the job of the construction should go to companies from Rijeka. Therefore, they wrote a petition to the Magistrate asking him, too, to participate with a contribution. The municipality of Rijeka decided to give its contribution in the form of 70 square meters of land in Zagrad Street. The reasoning said that a temple in that street would be an ornament for the city and the municipality of Rijeka wanted to keep its promise to help such plans.
The value of the land was estimated at 4200 krone by the municipality of Rijeka. Not to be left out, the governor of Rijeka, Ladislav Szapary ordered that 2000 krone from his private register would be paid out for the construction of the Jewish temple. The construction progressed rapidly and the Community informed the municipality of Rijeka on 18 September 1903 that the new temple had been built based on plans approved under number 17481/1902, asking for an occupancy permit because the beginning of Jewish New Year's festivities was on 22 October. The luxurious synagogue stood right next to today's Faculty of Maritime Studies.
As a typical electrician, Baumhorn very successfully and without much hesitation combined Romanesque and Gothic elements with Moorish decoration, and using Pannonian architecture, merged the ingenuity of stone, brick and plaster, building a beautiful, representative and also functional temple - the Rijeka Synagogue.
This magnificent building, erected in Rijeka during a great period of urban growth and a historical testimony of the Jewish religious community in Rijeka and the enormous financial sacrifices invested into the construction of this temple, was ruthlessly mined by the Nazi occupiers on 25 January 1944. Our city lost an irreplaceable authentic Lipot Baumhorn work of art, a beautiful example of typical Hungarian eclecticism with construction in brick, completely contrary to the tradition of the Adriatic. Along with Baumhorn's eclecticism, his technical updating is also present in the application of iron structures, which solved wide span arches in the interior and thus let abundant light into the unique space of the temple and the comprehensiveness directed by the lines of force toward the altar, i.e. Aaron ha-Chodesh for the Torah.