Hebrew University Humanities   Home Page   CJA


Update: Documentation of Ritual Buildings in Germany

Following the completion of the four-year synagogue documentation project in Lower Saxony, the Center for Jewish Art and the University of Braunschweig have begun working together on the documentation of former synagogues, mikvaot and cemetery chapels in Sachsen-Anhalt, one of the federal states in eastern Germany. More than forty former synagogue buildings have been identified in Sachsen-Anhalt, approximately twenty-five still extant. This project, initiated in October 1997, has been made possible with the generous support of the Alfred Freiherr von Oppenheim-Stiftung, through the Stifterverband.

Approximately seventy architecture students from the University of Braunschweig are participating in the new project in Sachsen-Anhalt, providing detailed measurements, drawings and descriptions of the extant Jewish buildings in the region.

In conjunction with these documentation projects, a conference on "Architecture of Jewish Ritual Buildings in Eastern Germany" was held on February 10th, 1998 in Halle, Germany. This conference at the Franckeschen Stiftungen was held under the auspices of Israel's Consul in Berlin, Miryam Shomrat, in honor of Israel's fiftieth anniversary. The conference marked the inauguration of the three-year project to document synagogues in Sachsen-Anhalt and the successful completion of the documentation project in Lower Saxony.

Professor Dr. Paul Raabe, Director of the Franckeschen Stiftungen, opened the conference and introduced Consul Shomrat who underscored the importance of cooperation between Israeli and German scientists and students, not only to promote understanding of Jewish culture and history in Germany in the past, but also for mutual understanding in the present.

Dr. Aliza Cohen-Mushlin, Director of the Center for Jewish Art, gave a brief report on the Center's work on Jewish art and architecture. She underlined the significance of the synagogue documentation projects in Germany by architecture students who study the subject as part of their curriculum, and her aspiration for documenting endangered synagogues all over the world.

70 students studying the synagogue in Celle Professor Dr. Harmen Thies and Professor Dr. Ralph Busch with 70 architechture students studying the synagogue in Celle. These students are participating in the documentation of ritual buildings in Saschen-Anhalt.

Professor Dr. Harmen Thies, of Braunschweig University, who together with his team of architecture students has been partner in the documentation project with the Center for Jewish Art, spoke about the importance of Jewish ritual buildings as examples for documentation, description and analysis of architecture. Although the synagogue has been a common architectural structure for two thousand years, the styles have changed significantly with the adaptation of local styles. Professor Thies also stressed the great enthusiasm of the students working on this project.

Prof. Dr. Harmen Thies of Braunschwig University.

Professor Dr. Harmen Thies of Braunschweig University speaking at the conference in Halle, Germany.

Katrin Kessler and Ulrich Knufinke, two Ph.D. students at Braunschweig University who specialize in synagogue architecture, gave overviews of their work in Sachsen-Anhalt, showing some examples of former synagogues and cemetery chapels, some nearly destroyed, and some used as dwellings or museums.

Professor Dr. Wolfgang Niemeier, of Braunschweig University, and Dr. Friedrich Balck, of Clausthal University, presented several methods for measuring buildings. With the use of computer aided tachymetres and laser-scan methods, exact documentation of synagogues can be done in a short time. The documentation can then be transformed into three-dimensional models on computer. Dr. Sergei Kravtsov of the Center for Jewish Art and Professor Dr. Manfred Koob and Marc Grellert of Darmstadt University, presented several examples of 3-D computer models of extant synagogues. They gave a moving presentation of three monumental synagogues in Frankfurt-am-Main, destroyed in Kristalnacht in 1938, which they reconstructed on computer and made into a film.

In the evening, the audience was greeted by Professor Raabe and Dr. Klaus Faber, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Culture of Sachsen-Anhalt. Following was an address by Consul Shomrat in which she gave a short overview of the successful development of Israel in the twentieth century.

The organizers of the Halle conference expressed their desire to start further projects in other states of eastern Germany in the coming years. The impressive participation at the conference, which included members of the von Oppenheim family, scholars, architects, historians, representatives of Jewish communities, members of scientific institutes, representatives of organizations working for monument preservation, and politicians, demonstrated that there exists significant interest in the research of Jewish culture and history, especially among young students.

The project to document Synagogues and ritual buildings in Sachsen-Anhalt is being generously supported by the Alfred Freiherr von Oppenheim-Stiftung, through the Stifterverband. The project to document ritual buildings in Lower Saxony was supported by the Ministry of Science and Culture of Lower Saxony.

Documenting Ritual Buildings in Germany

This synagogue in Norderney is one of the 40 Jewish ritual buildings documented in Niedersachsen, with the University of Braunschweig. Their successful project is serving as a model for the newly initiated Sachsen-Anhalt project.

Synagogue in Norderney (3-D model)

Synagogue in Norderdey (current state)

In 1997 Center's researchers documented the Norderney Synagogue in Niedersachsen, Germany, which is used today as a Steakhouse. With the aid of photographs and plans, researchers were able to 'rebuild' a 3D computer model of the synagogue.





Mount Scopus, Humanities Building, Jerusalem 91905, Israel
Tel.: (972-2) 5882281 |  Fax.: (972-2) 5400105
E-mail: cja@mail.huji.ac.il
      All rights reserved to The Hebrew University of Jerusalem©
Last Updated: 21 October, 2014
For comments: To Webmaster
Page Up