October 17th, 2008

Old Synagogue in Essen to be transformed into "House of Jewish Culture"

Essen – The Old Synagogue in Essen will be transformed into a "House of Jewish Culture". The first sod was cut yesterday to mark the beginning of €7.4 million building works that are due to be completed in 2010. Around 80 percent of the costs will be provided by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the rest will come from private sponsors. According to the information provided by the Old Synagogue's administration, the goal of the project is to present Jewish culture without focusing solely on themes like persecution, Holocaust, and Nazi times. The idea is to acquaint visitors with the diversity of the "Jewish Way of Life" through a "combination of a historical building and modern contents". The Old Synagogue in Essen was built in 1913. It is believed to be the largest synagogue that still stood undamaged in 1945 and a monument of European culture. The building has been owned by the city of Essen since 1959. It was used for cultural purposes until 1980 when it was turned into a memorial. (17.10.2008)