12172017

Synagogue

How goodly are thy tents o Jacob – much loved Fraenkelufer synagogue gets a new lease on life with a rejuvenated international congregation…

How goodly are thy tents o Jacob, 101 years ago, these verses from Num 24:5 were sung at the inauguration of the new synagogue on the Landwehr canal in the heart of Berlin. The capital̕s vibrant Jewish community was proud to add another temple to the city. And a mighty temple it was: there was room for 2,000 worshippers in its main building. The large complex also comprised a community center, buildings for service and administrative facilities, a synagogue for weekdays and a hall for youth services.

Fraenkelufer Synagogue Jörg Zägel / Wikimedia / Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en /

Fraenkelufer Synagogue
Jörg Zägel / Wikimedia / Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en /

The ensemble was designed by Alexander Beer, the master-builder of Berlin’s Jewish community. Beer’s distinctive buildings can be found all over city: the Jewish orphanage in Pankow, the Girl’s School in Auguststrasse in Mitte district, the Old People’s Home in Schmargendorf. His other grand synagogue in Prinzregentenstrasse is no longer extant. Beer was murdered in Theresienstadt in 1944. During the November pogrom of 1938, the main synagogue Fraenkelufer suffered severe damage. Twenty years later, in 1958, the remains were demolished. Henceforth, the small congregation gathered in the former hall for youth services with its lovely colored glass windows and its distinctive light blue columns on the outside. The atmosphere at tiny but much loved Fraenkelsynagogue had something familiar and cozy about it. But of late, Fraenkelufer synagogue has been given a new lease of life. Situated within easy reach of two Berlin trendy quarters, Kreuzberg and Neukölln, a rejuvenated congregation has established itself. Many of the synagogue attendees are from Israel. Whilst the majority of the more than 10,000 Israelis currently living in Berlin has not officially affiliated itself with the city’s Jewish community, many of them cherish the welcoming atmosphere at Fraenkelufer where they have found a place to pray, get together, celebrate.
A previous prayer at Fraenkelufer has been impressively documented: In November 1945, Robert Capa shot his iconic photographs of the first services in Berlin after the war at Fraenkelufer synagogue. Nowadays, there is already talk about rebuilding the main synagogue Fraenkelufer – how goodly are thy tents!■

Photo Credit: Jörg Zägel / Wikimedia / Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en /

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