News: The largest synagogue in Germany reopens in Berlin

4 09 2007

Germany’s largest synagogue (Jewish prayer house), Rykestrasse Synagogue, reopened last Friday in the Prenzlauer Berg district in Berlin. The synagogue underwent a few years of renovation, following decades of neglect.

The event was hailed as a symbol of the revitalization of Jewish life in Germany, and even referred to as “a miracle” by Rabbi Chaim Roswaski, a native of Belarus who came to Berlin in 2000 as part of an influx of Jews from the former Soviet Union, that has made Germany one of the fastest growing Jewish communities in the world (and were they smart…).

Anyway, it appears that the building, which is 103 years old, did not suffer much damage during the Nazi regime, as it was located too near to an apartment block.

The Jewish community in Berlin today has 12,000 registered members, and 8 synagogues. There are about 250,000 Jews in the whole of Germany, some 110,000 of them registered religious community members. Before the Holocaust, there were around 560,000 Jews in Germany.

The reopening of the synagogue marked the opening of 10-day celebration of the “Jewish Culture Days”. For some reason, I have been unable to find anything in English about it, but here’s the German website, on which you can find a program. There’s also a message there from Berlin’s mayor, Klaus Wowereit, expressing pride of the renewed blossoming of the Jewish culture in Berlin.

As part of the Jewish culture festival, Berlin Jews also celebrated the opening of a community center run by the Chabad Lubavitch organization on Sunday, with a ceremony followed by a street fair.

We hope to get pictures of the synagogue (and maybe also the Chabad Center) on our next visit, but for the meantime, you can get some photos and more information in these articles from the BBC and der Spiegel in English. And here you can see a nice ancient picture of the synagogue (looks like a stamp, actually).

This is the website of The Jewish Community of Berlin.

And here is the website of the Chabad Lubavitch organization in Berlin.


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