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Guests at the opening ceremony in the synagogue


Some 85 years after the destruction of the synagogue in Dessau, a new Jewish house of worship has been opened there. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) said on Sunday at a ceremony in the Saxony-Anhalt city: "This synagogue in the middle of Dessau says: Jewish life is and will remain a part of Germany. It belongs here."

According to the city, the synagogue is the first newly built Jewish house of worship in Saxony-Anhalt since reunification. Saxony-Anhalt's Prime Minister Reiner Haseloff (CDU) spoke of a "symbol of a new beginning".

Since Hamas' large-scale attack on Israel, there have been repeated rallies in support of Hamas in Germany, at which anti-Semitic slogans were chanted, as well as attacks on Jewish institutions.

"There must be no tolerance for anti-Semitism in Germany," Scholz said at the opening. The Federal Republic of Germany will "defend and protect" Jewish life.

There must be no turning a blind eye and silence "when Jews are not safe on Germany's streets, when Stars of David are smeared on houses, when incendiary devices are thrown at synagogues, when the victims of terror are mocked and the perpetrators are glorified," Scholz said. Now it must be seen what "our 'never again' means."

"A clear answer set in stone"

Israel's ambassador to Germany, Ron Prosor, said Jews needed Germany's continued support "now and for as long as it takes."

Mark Dainow, vice president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said the synagogue construction was "a clear answer carved in stone" to the question of the future of Jewish life in Germany and "a commitment to stay."

Construction of the new synagogue began in 2019. It is located about 300 meters away from Dessau's town hall and was built according to plans by the architectural firm of Alfred Jacoby from Frankfurt am Main, known for its synagogue buildings.

According to the city, the house was financed by funds from the Jewish community, the city, the state of Saxony-Anhalt and the federal government; in addition, the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Lotto-Toto and citizens, among others, had given money. According to MDR, the construction cost 4.8 million euros. According to the report, Jewish people have lived in the city for centuries, and their existence came to a brutal end with the Holocaust. Today, the local congregation had about 300 members.

The synagogue complements the rabbi's house, which was built in 1908 and is now a listed building, where the composer Kurt Weill spent his childhood. His father, Albert Weill, was a cantor of the Jewish community. The new synagogue is therefore called the Weill Synagogue.

Kurt Weill, who was born in Dessau in 1900 and created works such as »The Threepenny Opera« together with Bertolt Brecht, fled from the National Socialists first to France and finally to the USA.