German Protestant Church to be Turned into Synagogue | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 21.07.2007
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Culture

German Protestant Church to be Turned into Synagogue

A Protestant church in the northern German city of Bielefeld has been sold to the local Jewish community, which plans to turn it into a synagogue.

Churches around Germany, like this one in Berlin, are undergoing change

Churches around Germany, like this one in Berlin, are undergoing change

A spokeswoman for the Protestant Church confirmed this week that representatives of the two religious groups had signed a sales contract on July 6.

She declined to say how much the Jewish community had paid for the Paul Gerhardt Church, which had been occupied for three months by a civic action group opposed to the sale.

A spokesperson for the Jewish community said it had earmarked 2.5 million euros ($3.4 million) for the purchase and alterations to the deconsecrated church.

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Synagoge in München Innenansicht

A new synagogue opened in Munich last year

"We're delighted to have found an adequate place nearly 70 years after the pogrom and the destruction of the old synagogue," said spokesperson Irith Michelson.

She was referring to the night of Nov. 9, 1938, known as Reichskristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, when thousands of Jewish homes, synagogues and other buildings were ransacked and set on fire by the Nazis.

The Jewish community plans to remove Christian symbols from the church by the end of August and complete the renovations to turn the building into a synagogue by summer 2008.

The community decided to buy the church because the present synagogue was getting too small for the growing Jewish community.

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