Europe is about to get its own main synagogue without a single stone being lifted.
The Brussels main synagogue, La Regence, is to be rededicated as the Great Synagogue of Europe in a traditional ceremony led by Brussels Chief Rabbi Albert Guigui on June 4. Hosting the event is the
Conference of European Rabbis, which represents Orthodox rabbis in more than 40 countries.
Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, and Sir Jonathan Sacks, the chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth of United Kingdom, will address guests from the international rabbinic community, the Brussels diplomatic corps and the local community.
The president of the Brussels Jewish Community, Raymond Cahen, will join Barroso in signing the inaugural document.
La Grande Synagogue, at 32 rue de la Regence in Brussels, was designed by non-Jewish architect Desire DeKeyser and completed in 1878. The “stately Romanesque” building also functions today as the home to several Jewish organizations, including the Jewish Consistoire and the Communaute Israelite de Bruxelles.
More than 20,000 Jews live in Brussels and about 42,000 in all of Belgium.
The Conference of European Rabbis was established in 1956 as a federation of chief rabbis and senior rabbinical judges. Its current president is the chief rabbi of France, Joseph Sitruk, with Sacks serving as associate president.