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Ancient ‘rashi’ Synagogue, Destroyed by Nazis, Reopened in Germany

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The old Rashi Synagogue here, oldest Jewish house of worship in Germany, originally built in 1034, destroyed by the Nazis in 1938, and now reconstructed by the West German Government at a cost of $125,000, was reopened here yesterday with impressive ceremonies. In addition to Jewish representatives from all over Germany, as well as from Israel, Britain and France, the participants in the somber ceremony included Vice Chancellor Ludwig Erhard as the official representative of the Federal Republic of Germany. The synagogue was named after the famous commentator of the Bible and Talmud.

“Grief and deep shame” over the Nazi desecrations and depredations were expressed by Mr. Erhard in his address. Warning that anti-Semitism in Germany “is not yet dead,” the Vice Chancellor said that “anti-Semitism, like every other form of inhumanity, is blasphemy.” He warned Germany that Nazi crimes against the Jews “must not be forgotten.”

The $125,000 needed for reconstruction of the famous old “Rashi Shul” had been contributed by West German authorities, federal, state and local. Mr. Erhard referred to the fact that only two Jewish families live here–whereas the pre-war Jewish population was over 1,200. “The essential thing, in this Temple,” he said, “is missing–the human beings to whom the inscriptions here should speak.”

The rebuilt synagogue with a capacity of 300 worshipers, contains Jewish ritual objects donated by the German Ministry of Education, by youth groups and various prominent handicraftsmen. President Heinrich Luebke contributed the almenor. A stone flown here from Jerusalem has been placed in the wall partitioning the women’s section in the synagogue from the men’s section.

A childless couple, Jacob and Rachel, had built the synagogue which was opened just before Rosh Hashanah in 1034. An addition, named the “Rashi Chapel,” was built in 1624; The synagogue contained the archives of the old Worms Jewish community as well as many other priceless memorabilia. A local archivist saved many of these relies after the Nazis destroyed the synagogue in 1938, transferring them after the war to the Jewish National Archive in Jerusalem.

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