Győr and Jewry

Tapestry Synagogues – Judit’s self-confession

Handicrafts by Judit Siklósi in memory of those killed in the Holocaust

I started creating tapestries depicting Hungarian synagogues because my husband, Vilmos Siklósi, born in Budapest was a child of survivors. When we moved to Zalaegerszeg in 1991, he founded the “Peace Shalom Hungarian-Israeli Friendship Society” to promote cultural and economic exchanges between the two peoples.

Synagogue of Zalaegerszeg, tapestry by Judit Siklósi, 2004 – Photo by Judit Siklósi (built in 1903-04 based on the designs of József Stern using elements of Romanesque and Oriental styles – editor)

In 1995, the Jews of Zalaegerszeg awoke from their sleep and re-established the local Jewish community. At that time there were still survivors in and around Zalaegerszeg. My husband led the community until his death.

In 2004, the synagogue in Zalaegerszeg turned 100 years old currently serving as an exhibition and concert hall. For this anniversary I sewed the first tapestry depicting the synagogue in Zalaegerszeg. Aunt Bözsi, Imréné Anhalczer, a survivor, helped me to buy the material for my first creation. The tapestry measures 130×160 cm, has 500,000 stitches and was made in 1’700 man-hours.

Újpest Synagogue (Budapest), tapestry by Judit Siklósi, 2014 – Photo by Judit Siklósi (built in 1885-86 based on designs by Greier or Gränner (first name unknown) or Jakob Gärtner, featuring neo-Moorish motifs – ed.)

Seeing this work, Borgó (Dr. István Csaba György István [BORGO] (b. 10 May 1950, Marosvásárhely, RO, 10 May 1950), a Hungarian painter, graphic artist, tapestry designer, sculptor and teacher of Transylvanian origin – editor) said that what I had realized was so beautiful that he would organize an exhibition of it if there were more such works. After all, it was not he who organised my first exhibition, and I haven’t met him since, but it was on his suggestion that I should sew more that I took up preparing synagogue tapestries.

Synagogue of Debrecen, tapestry by Judit Siklósi, 2011 – Photo by Judit Siklósi (built in 1884 based on plans by Jenő Berger, architect of Debrecen, featuring late eclectic motifs – ed.)

In addition to synagogues, I also sew Jewish holiday images and symbols.

Synagogue in Lendava, tapestry by Judit Siklósi, 2004 – Photo by Judit Siklósi (built in 1866 in present-day Slovenia under Rabbi Moses Schacherlesz – ed.)

How are these pieces made? I draw the synagogue building myself on the tapestry fabric and follow the drawing with tapestry stitching. Most of the pictures are sized 40×50 cm.

Synagogue of Győr, tapestry by Judit Siklósi – Photo by Judit Siklósi (built in 1869-70, based on the Moorish and historicist-art nouveau designs of architect Károly Benkó – ed.)

So far, I have had eighteen exhibitions including abroad, e.g. in Marosvásárhely. Other venues include Hévíz, Zalaegerszeg, Bak, Szombathely, Mosonmagyaróvár, Győr, Pécs, Budapest (ORZSE), Szolnok, Tiszafüred, Szekszárd, Újpest, Siófok, Nagyatád (all in Hungary – editor). Several newspaper articles about these exhibitions were published, for example in Új Élet (“New Life” – newspaper of the Association of Jewish Communities in Hungary – editor). If I am invited to an exhibition anywhere, I am happy to go and produce a tapestry of the synagogue of the inviting city as a memento.

Synagogue of Frankel Leó Street (Budapest), tapestry by Judit Siklósi, 2011 – Photo by Judit Siklósi (built in 1887 based on the neo-Gothic style plans of architect Sándor Fellner – ed.)

In Nagyatád, I was confronted with the fact that the people of the countryside do not even know that a synagogue and a Jewish community once existed in their town. It was then that I realised that preserving the memories of synagogues is a tribute, a kind of “cultural mission” to the memory of our fellow human beings who were cruelly killed in the Holocaust.

Synagogue in Hévíz, tapestry by Judit Siklósi, 2005 – Photo by Judit Siklósi (built in 1933, demolished in 1977, in its place stands a Holocaust memorial – ed.)

I sew colour and black and white tapestries, the latter of synagogues that no longer exist because even the buildings have been destroyed, leaving no trace or memory of them.

Synagogue in Tiszafüred, tapestry by Judit Siklósi, 2012 – Photo by Judit Siklósi (built in 1912 in Art Nouveau style; no longer exists, the remaining block of the building is a furniture shop; there is a small plaque on the side of the building commemorating the victims of the Holocaust – ed.)

In short, I started the series to create pieces that would serve as a reminder and at the same time strengthen the connection of the local audience, of the city, to a destroyed piece of our common past.

Judit Siklósi

Those interested and wanting to purchase or order a piece may want to contact Judit at the following address: (ed.)

Edited and English translation by Péter Krausz