Glorious synagogues to mark anniversaries: 25 years since the Wall came down (and 76 years since Kristallnacht)

 

Painted ceiling of the restored synagogue in Uštĕk, Czech Republic

Painted ceiling of the restored synagogue in Uštĕk, Czech Republic

The Berlin Wall came down 25-years ago, on November 9, 1989 — a day that also marked the 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 that night; 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.

In the following years, hundreds more synagogues and prayer houses were destroyed during World War II, and even after the War ended, hundreds more were either destroyed, left derelict and abandoned or converted for other use that totally obscured their original identity.

The fall of the Wall enabled a sea change in the recovery, recognition and reconstruction of Jewish heritage sites, particularly in post-communist Europe. It is a process that is still going on, often slowly, but one that has seen the restoration and revitalization of scores of synagogues across the region — and  elsewhere in Europe — as well as the documentation, clean-up, and preservation of scores of long-abandoned Jewish cemeteries.

Last year, we felt the best way to mark the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht was to post images of some of the glorious synagogues that still stand in Europe — or have been renovated and refurbished — or have been newly built. You can click here to see that selection of photos.

This year, we are continuing this tradition.

Most of the reconstructed synagogues are used today as cultural spaces, but an increasing number are used by revitalized Jewish communities.

 

Siena, Italy -- Ark in the 18th century synagogue

Siena, Italy — Ark in the 18th century synagogue

Sibiu , Romania -- Great Synagogue exterior. Photo © Yoraan Rafael

Sibiu , Romania — Great Synagogue exterior. Photo © Yoraan Rafael

Sibiu Great Synagogue interior. Photo © Yoraan Rafael

Sibiu, Romania — Great Synagogue interior. Photo © Yoraan Rafael

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Uštĕk, Czech Republic — exterior of restored synagogue

Brandys nad Labem, Czech Republic -- the Ark in the restored synagogue

Brandys nad Labem, Czech Republic — the Ark in the restored synagogue

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Zamosc, Poland — restored renaissance synagogue

The ark in the restored Renaissance synagogue in Zamosc, Poland.

The ark in the restored Renaissance synagogue in Zamosc, Poland.

Mikulov, Czech Republic: the ark and four-pillared bimah (where the Torah was read) in the restored synagogue

Mikulov, Czech Republic: the ark and four-pillared bimah (where the Torah was read) in the restored synagogue

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Nova Cerekev, Czech Republic — facade of the restored synagogue

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Nova Cerekev, Czech Republic — Ark in the restored synagogue

Kedaini, Lithuania -- restored synagogues, used as culture centers

Kedaini, Lithuania — restored synagogues, used as culture centers

Budapest -- interior of restored orthodox synagogue on Kazinczy st

Budapest — interior of restored orthodox synagogue on Kazinczy st

Trnava, Slovakia -- painted ceiling of restored orthodox synagogue

Trnava, Slovakia — painted ceiling of restored orthodox synagogue

Trnava, Slovakia -- painted ceiling of restored orthodox synagogue

Trnava, Slovakia — painted ceiling of restored orthodox synagogue

Polna, Czech Republic -- Ark in the restored synagogue

Polna, Czech Republic — Ark in the restored synagogue

Exterior of Krasnik Great synagogue after first stage of restoration. Photo: FODZ

Exterior of Great Synagogu in Krasnik, Poland after first stage of restoration. Photo: FODZ

Botosani, Romania -- elaborate ark in the synagogue

Botosani, Romania — elaborate ark in the synagogue

Exterior of the restored synagogue in Breznice, Czech Republic. Will be used as cultural center/Jewish museum. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

Exterior of the restored synagogue in Breznice, Czech Republic.

Interior of restored Tulcea synagogue. Photo: Federation of Romanian Jewish Communities

Interior of restored Tulcea synagogue. Photo: Federation of Romanian Jewish Communities

Exterior of restored synaggoue in Tulcea, Romania. Photo: Federation of Romanian Jewish Communities

Exterior of restored synaggoue in Tulcea, Romania. Photo: Federation of Romanian Jewish Communities

Restored synagogue in Český Krumlov . Photo courtesy of Jan Kindermann

Restored synagogue in Český Krumlov, Czech Republic. Photo courtesy of Jan Kindermann

Český Krumlov -- a concert (of Sephardic songs) in the restored synagogue

Český Krumlov — a concert (of Sephardic songs) in the restored synagogue

Pitigliano, Italy -- entry portal to the 16th century synagogue, restored in the 1990s

Pitigliano, Italy — entry portal to the 16th century synagogue, restored in the 1990s

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Pitigliano, Italy — Interior of 16th century synagogue, fully restored in the 1990s

 

Synagogue, Rostov on Don, Russia. Photo: www.evreirostov.ru

Synagogue, Rostov on Don, Russia. Photo: www.evreirostov.ru

Tourists outside Munich Jewish Museum (r) and synagogue (l). Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

Tourists outside Munich Jewish Museum (r) and synagogue (l). Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

 

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