Jewish Heritage Europe



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Saturday, November 9, 2013

How to mark the Kristallnacht anniversary? With glorious synagogues

Entryway, Jubilee synagogue, Prague. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

This weekend marks the 75th anniversary of what we call Kristallnacht, the Night of the Broken Glass, the night of violent coordinated Nazi attacks against Jews, Jewish property, and Jewish places of worship which saw some 7,000 Jewish businesses trashed and more than 1,000 synagogues put to the torch all over Germany and German-occupied lands. Some 30,000 Jews were imprisoned and more than 90 were killed.

The destruction wrought on the night of November 9-10, 1938 foreshadowed the mass destruction of the Holocaust that followed a few years later.

To mark this anniversary, rather than dwell on the destruction, I thought I would focus on rebirth and survival, in particular the survival of synagogues whose restoration over the past two decades has been a symbol of Jewish rebirth in Germany and elsewhere in central and eastern Europe.

Here, then, just a few photographs of synagogues, still used by Jewish communities, that stand now as enduring monuments to the glory of what was destroyed -- and offer hope that the still somewhat fragile renewal of Jewish life in Europe may continue to strengthen. This is only a very small sample of the synagogue buildings that have been restored in Europe (most of them now used for cultural or other purposes).

Tempel synagogue, Krakow. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

Interior, Tempel Synagogue, Krakow. Photo © JCC Krakow

Facade, Pilsen synagogue, Czech Republic. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

Dohany st. Synagogue, Budapest. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

Dohany st. Synagogue, Budapest. Restored in the 1990s

Dohany st. Synagogue, Budapest. Restored in the 1990s
Kazinczy st synagogue, Budapest

Ceiling, Kazinczy st synagogue, Budapest

Ark, Kazinczy st. Synagogue, Budapest

Orthodox synagogue, Presov, Slovakia. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

Orthodox synagogue, Presov, Slovakia. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber


And here are a couple of synagogues built in recent years. The use of glass is a real answer to Kristallnacht, no?:

Ohel Jakob synagogue , Munich (l) built 2004-2006

Synagogue in Graz, Austria, dedicated in 2000 on the site of the magnificent synagogue destroyed on Kristallnacht. Notice how the upper part of this synagogue is a glass dome. A real answer to the Night of Broken Glass. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

Glass dome of the new synagogue in Graz. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber



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