Ohel Jakob Synagogue in Munich

Front door of Ohel Jakob Synagogue in Munich Germany

On March 22, 2007, the 74th anniversary of the opening of the Dachau concentration camp, a new Jewish Museum and a Jewish Center were opened in the heart of Munich, next to the new Synagogue, named Ohel Jakob, which is shown in the photo above.

The new Ohel Jakob Synagogue was opened on November 9, 2006, the 68th anniversary of the destruction of the old Synagogue with the same name during the pogrom known as Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, when the windows of Jewish stores were smashed and Synagogues were burned throughout Germany and Austria.

At the cornerstone-laying ceremony for the new Synagogue on November 9, 2003, four hundred Munich policemen stood guard. A group of neo-Nazis attempted to bomb the construction site but the plot was foiled by the police and the perpetrators were arrested and sent to prison.

The Synagogue has around the clock security and every visitor is required to go through a metal detector before entry.

Ohel Jakob Synagogue in Munich

The new Synagogue, which was built to resemble what is believed to have been the design of Solomon's temple in Jerusalem, is shown in the photo above. The base of the building is made of stone, making it evocative of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. The top of the building is a glass cube which glows at night.

Interior of Obel Jakob Synagogue

Top of Munich Synagogue

The Jewish Center, built at a cost of 71.6 million euro, or the equivalent of $91 million, is the largest Jewish construction project in Europe. It was paid for by the city of Munich, the state of Bavaria and the Jewish Community. Today, there are 9,300 Jews in Munich, the second largest Jewish Community in Germany. The majority of them are recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

A model of the three new Jewish buildings in the Munich Altstadt is shown in the photo below.

Synagogue, Jewish Museum and Jewish Center in Munich

Photo Credit: www.weichlein.com

The photo below shows a view of the Synagogue through a window of the coffee shop in the Jewish Museum building next door.

View of the Synagogue through the window of the Jewish Museum

Construction of the Jewish Center on Munich's historic Sankt-Jakobs-Platz began in 2003. The three buildings include a Museum, a Community Center, a day school, a library and a kosher restaurant. The restaurant, museum and the large assembly hall are open to the general public. An underground passage connecting two of the building has the names of the 4,500 Munich Jews who were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

Main Synagogue in Munich was torn down on June 9, 1938

In 1882, King Ludwig II of Bavaria gave the Jews a site on Herzog-Max-Strasse in the town center of Munich on which they built a Synagogue in 1887. In the background in the photo above is the Frauenkirche, a Munich land mark which is still standing. The site of the old Synagogue is now a parking lot, but the new Synagogue is located very close to this spot.

After Hitler called the old Synagogue "an eyesore," demolition began on June 9, 1938. Five months later, on November 9, 1938, the old Ohel Jakob Synagogue was destroyed and 30,000 Jewish men in Germany and Austria were arrested and sent to the three main Nazi concentration camps: Dachau, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen.

A copper cylinder was rescued from the cornerstone of the old Synagogue; it was placed in a niche on the wall of the new Synagogue.

The small Synagogue on Reichenbach Strasse in Munich survived the 1938 pogrom, although it was damaged. After World War II ended in 1945, the few remaining Jews in Munich worshiped in the Reichenbachstrasse Synagogue, which was located far from the Munich Altstadt (old city).

New construction near the Munich Synagogue

The location of the new Jewish Center is very crowded and the new Synagogue seems to be out of place, squeezed into a space that is too small and dominated by traditional buildings. New construction was still going on in the area when I visited in May 2007.

The back side of the Synagogue, shown in the photo above, is directly across from the German History Museum.

Munich was severely damaged by Allied bombs during World War II and after the war, the decision was made to reconstruct the old buildings, rather than build new modern buildings as was done in Frankfurt. The new Jewish Synagogue is virtually the only modern building in downtown Munich.

Services in the Synagogue, which are conducted in Hebrew, follow Jewish Orthodox traditions, although everyone is welcome. As is the custom in Orthodox synagogues, the men sit in the main part of the sanctuary and the women sit in the balcony.

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This page was created on June 1, 2007