Former Church to Become Germany's Newest Synagogue

New synagogue to be first in town of Cottbus in state of Brandenburg since 1938, when Nazi hooligans set existing shul alight.

JTA
JTA
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Old Market Square in the German town of Cottbus, where the old-new synagogue is to be dedicated.
Old Market Square in the German town of Cottbus, where the old-new synagogue is to be dedicated.Credit: Wikipedia Commons
JTA
JTA

A former church in the German city of Cottbus is to become Germany’s newest synagogue, and the first since 1938 in the state of Brandenburg.

In ceremonies on November 2, Ulrike Menzel, who has led the Evangelical parish in Cottbus since 2009, handed a key for the Schlolsskirche, or “castle church,” to the Jewish Association of the State of Brandenburg.

The actual dedication of the synagogue is planned for Holocaust Remembrance Day, on January 27, 2015.

Last weekend’s event comes almost exactly 76 years after the “Night of Broken Glass,” a Germany-wide pogrom in which Jewish property and synagogues – including the one in Cottbus – were destroyed.

Cottbus traces the first mention of Jewish residents to 1448. Its first Jewish house of prayer was established in 1811 in the inner courtyard of a cloth maker. At the time, there were 17 Jews in Cottbus. In 1902, a larger synagogue was dedicated. Nazi hooligans stormed it and set it afire on the night of November 9-10, 1938. A department store stands on the site today.

The Jewish community was not formally reestablished in Cottbus until 1998. Today, it has some 350 members, all of them Jews from the former Soviet Union. The current president is Gennadi Kuschnir.

“It’s wonderful to see this house of worship returned to its intended use,” Menzel said at Sunday’s ceremony, according to the Nordkurier online newspaper. For decades, the building has been used for social and communal events.

According to a statement on the community’s website, the State of Brandenburg contributed the full purchase cost for the decommissioned church, $730,700, and will contribute about $62,400 per year for maintenance. The city of Cottbus oversaw the removal of the cross and church bell from the steeple. All other renovation costs were to be borne by the state's Jewish association.

The Cottbus Jewish community has pledged to use the structure as a synagogue for at least 25 years.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott