(JTA) – The Reform community of Hameln has begun building what it says will be Germany’s first postwar Reform synagogue.
Jüdische Gemeinde Hameln broke ground in early May for its new synagogue and community center. It will stand on the site of the former Buerenstrasse Synagogue, which was destroyed by the Nazis on Kristallnacht in November 1938.
The town’s mayor and other city leaders joined in the groundbreaking ceremony, according to a report from the World Union for Progressive Judaism. A non-Jewish neighbor gave the congregation a stone from the original synagogue that she had rescued from the rubble in 1938 and kept ever since.
"You surely need bricks to build the new synagogue, so we wanted to give one to you,” she told reporters.
Hameln’s Reform community organized in 1997, and now has more than 200 members, nearly all from the former Soviet Union. The congregation is raising money by selling CDs of Shabbat melodies performed by volunteer cantor Rebekka Dohme, available on the congregation’s Web site (www.jghreform.org). The building is expected to be completed by February.