The new synagogue in Herford fills a void from 1938Image: picture alliance/dpa
March 14, 2010
A new synagogue was opened to the public in a city in western Germany on Sunday. The last synagogue in Herford closed during Adolf Hitler's rule of Germany.
After over 70 years, the city of Herford has an official Jewish place of worship once again. The state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, Juergen Ruettgers, and the president of the Germany's Central Council of Jews, Charlotte Knobloch, celebrated along with the congregation at the opening ceremony.
"I hope for you - and for us all - that Jewish life here in North Rhine-Westphalia bears fruit - that it is present, changes, initiates change, and invigorates," Ruettgers said.
"We must, and we will, do everything to ensure there is never another Auschwitz."
Charlotte Knobloch commented on how Jewish history in Herford stretches back seven centuries, although after the Holocaust only a handful of the roughly 200 former inhabitants returned.
The former synagogue was destroyed during "Kristallnacht" ("the Night of Broken Glass") on November 9, 1938, one of the Nazis' most widespread and brutal single purges of Jewish society within Germany.
Knobloch said the synagogue would act as a memorial for the former Jewish community, meaning that worshippers might shed a few tears from time to time.
"But today, together, we can prove that there can also be tears of joy," she said.
Jewish population on the rise
The neo-gothic building was erected on the site of the former synagogue, which was constructed in 1852. It cost roughly two million euros, and the prayer area can accommodate over 90 people.
The prayer room in a nearby Jewish school in Herford had becaome overcrowded in recent years due to the arrival of many Jews from the former Soviet Union.
Herford is in the east of the state, near Osnabruck and Bielefeld. Roughly 30,000 people of Jewish faith live in North Rhine-Westphalia nowadays, and that population has been steadily growing since the fall of the Iron Curtain.
Ten new synagogues have been built in North Rhine-Westphalia since the mid-1990s.