How to mark the Kristallnacht anniversary? With glorious synagogues!

Interior, Kazinczy st. Synagogue, Budapest. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

This weekend marks the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the night of Nov. 9-10 1938 when the Nazis launched coordinated violent attacks on Jews, Jewish property and Jewish places of worship all over Germany and German-occupied territory. More than 1,000 synagogues were torched; at least 7,000 Jewish businesses were devastated; nearly 100 Jews were killed and tens of thousands of Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps.

The media has been full of articles, and commemorations have been taking place all over Europe and beyond — one of the most creative and dramatic was in the German city of Weimar, where the American musician Alan Bern, the director of Yiddish Summer Weimar, coordinated a phenominal city-wide sound installation and concert that featured tolling church bells and the music of composers who were banned by the Nazis.

Taking a cue from JHE Coordinator Ruth Ellen Gruber’s post on her Jewish Heritage Travel blog, we have decided to commemorate the anniversary by focusing on survival and rebuilding —  posting pictures of glorious synagogues that have been rebuilt, restored, and even newly built, creating dynamic living spaces for Jewish communities and society at large.

Readers of Jewish Heritage Europe are aware of the many, many synagogue restoration projects under way across Europe — and are also aware of the financial problems faced by Jewish communities, NGOs, civic authorities and individuals  in carrying them out.

We urge readers to support these restoration projects. Besides being — often — important architectural monuments, these buildings embody powerfully important statements of history, culture, revival and rebirth.

Most of the synagogues shown here are used for Jewish worship. Others have been restored and converted for cultural use but still retain their identity. The use of glass in the new buildings makes an especially telling answer to Kristallnacht, no?

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

Interior of the Orthodox synagogue, Presov, Slovakia. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

Ohel Jakob synagogue (l) Munich, Germany, built 2004-2006. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

Radauti , Romania Great Synagogue (before renovation). Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

Reconstruction of painted ceiling of destroyed Gwodziec synagogue. Photo: Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett


Dohany St. Synagogue, Budapest, restored in the 1990s. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

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

Opening session in the Tempel Synagogue of the Managing Jewish Immovable Heritage Conference. Photo © Krakow JCC

Interior of Casale Monferrato, Italy, synagogue. Photo: casalebraica.infoExterior of the restored synagogue in Breznice, Czech Republic. Will be used as cultural center/Jewish museum. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

Murals at Beit Tfila Benyamin Synagogue, Chernivtsi. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

Choral synagogue, Bucharest. Photo: FedRom

Synagogue in Graz, Austria, built in 2000 on site of magnificent synagogue destroyed on Kristallnacht. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

Glass dome of Graz synagogue. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

Jubilee synagogue, Prague. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

Synagogue in Trencin, Slovakia. Now used as an art gallery. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

Interior, Heydukova street synagogue, Bratislava, Slovakia. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

New synagogue in Ulm, Germany. Photo:

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



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