The Jewish Community of Rijeka and its Synagogues

The Jewish community in Rijeka was established in the final decades of the 18th century when several families from Split (such as the Penso, Levi, Ventura and Piazza families) who were engaged in producing and trading tobacco, leather, textiles, brandy, honey and other agricultural products settled in Rijeka. 

After Rijeka was declared a free port with the status of corpus separatum inside the Kingdom of Hungary, the city's importance increased over time and it thus attracted many Jewish families from Eastern countries, Austria and Italy. After the Italian victory over the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the well-known vicissitudes of the after-war period (in particular the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio’s Fiume Endeavor), on 24 January 1924 Rijeka became part of the Kingdom of Italy. The local Jewish community remained a significant one with more than a thousand members, including the Jewish residents of Opatija.


Postcard of the port of Fiume – Sušak (1937) with the border between the two towns as established after 1924

Up to the Second World War, there were two synagogues in Rijeka: one, called the Great synagogue, served the "Reformed" or Neolog Jewish community and was inaugurated for Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) on 22 October 1903. The other one, the Orthodox synagogue, was commissioned by the smaller Orthodox Jewish congregation in 1928.