The night of November 9-10 marks the 78th anniversary of the so-called Kristallnacht pogrom in 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.
We feel that the best way to mark the anniversary is to post images of some of the beautiful synagogues that still stand in Europe — or have been renovated and refurbished — or have been newly built. You can CLICK HERE to see the selection of photos from 2013. To see the photos from 2014 CLICK HERE – and for the photos from last year, 2015, CLICK HERE.
November 9 also marked the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990. The collapse of communism sparked 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. Most of the reconstructed synagogues are used today as cultural spaces, but others are used by local Jewish communities: most of the synagogues we feature in our post today are currently in used by congregations.