The post-WW2 New Synagogue in Düsseldorf, Germany — inaugurated 60 years ago at Rosh Hashanah 1958 — is about to undergo a multi-million euro renovation.
According to the Jüdische Allgemeine Jewish newspaper, the works will begin in October, after the High Holidays, and should be completed by early 2019. During that time, the synagogue will be closed.
The barrel-like concrete building, designed by the architect Hermann Zvi Guttmann and featuring large vertical windows, will be “completely refurbished and renovated.”
Renovation will include both the exterior and the interior, it said. Much of the distinctive concrete facade needs to be replaced, and the windows need repair. Interior work will include new flooring and pews as well as a transformation of the Bimah.
According to the article, Executive Director Michael Szentei-Heise said there was “a financial envelope of around €2 million,” with funding to come from the amended State Treaty with the North Rhine Westphalia regional government that provides millions of euros of support for synagogue and building maintenance for 22 Jewish communities in the region.
Düsseldorf’s massive, domed Great Synagogue, built in 1905 in the city center and seating 1,000, was torched and burned down on Kristallnacht, November 9-10, 1938. A plaque now marks the spot.
The New Synagogue was erected in an outlying part of town. There were around 850 members of the reconstituted post-WW2 Jewish community.
Jüdische Allgemeine writes:
Architect Guttmann chose large windows for the Dusseldorf synagogue, creating a light-filled space. Architecturally, he wanted to give a positive signal. “My main concern was to avoid a gloomy mood that has often characterized synagogues from the past,” he wrote in an essay describing his design. The security our time demands is expressed through a life-affirming element. Here it is the security in God.”
Today, thanks to post-Soviet immigration, the Jewish community numbers more than 7,000.