A new synagogue has opened in the center of Magdeburg – 85 years after the destruction of the old Jewish place of worship. “The new synagogue building stands for peaceful coexistence and pluralism,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s Prime Minister Reiner Haseloff (CDU) at a ceremony. Jewish life will become much more visible and tangible again. “As a state government, we will continue to make Jewish life in Saxony-Anhalt visible, promote and protect it.”

The President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, spoke of a day of joy and pride. He referred to the adverse circumstances that the Jewish community in the GDR experienced. In 1946 only 120 Jews lived in Magdeburg and services took place in a residential building. At the beginning of the 1980s, the Jewish community only had around 20 members. It was only immigration from the territory of the former Soviet Union that caused it to grow significantly in the 1990s.

Today, the Magdeburg synagogue community says it has around 400 members. “Jewish life in Germany is a success story, which is also thanks to the courage of Jewish immigrants in particular,” said the Central Council President.

Architect: Discreet and reserved

The building, which ultimately cost 7.6 million euros, is the result of decades of commitment from Magdeburg citizens who collected donations for the new building. A support association contributed 500,000 euros, the synagogue community 300,000 euros, and the city of Magdeburg made the property available. The state of Saxony-Anhalt bore most of the construction costs.

Architect Wolfgang Sattler described the new synagogue as discreet and reserved. Despite the necessary security measures, a feeling of lightness, openness and light was brought into the new building. On the exterior facade is the saying in Hebrew: “For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” The building stands between a hotel and residential buildings.

Old synagogue destroyed 85 years ago

The old Magdeburg synagogue was destroyed by citizens of the city during the November pogroms of National Socialism in 1938 – a short distance from today’s new building. The “New Synagogue Magdeburg” support association was founded in 1999 and has been committed to the construction ever since. The support association gave the synagogue community a picture of the historic, destroyed Magdeburg synagogue.

The new Weill Synagogue in Dessau-Roßlau was only opened on October 22nd. Hamas’ attack on Israel had only taken place around two weeks ago. Prime Minister Haseloff said in the new Magdeburg synagogue: “We are all horrified by the crimes of Hamas. Our thoughts are with the people of Israel, the victims and those left behind.” Terror must be stopped and Hamas must be held accountable.

Central Council President Schuster also recalled the current situation in the Middle East and the people who are still being held hostage by Hamas. The Jewish community’s thoughts and prayers are with them and their families. Schuster emphasized: “We will not allow our lives to be determined by terror.”