Like most of the Jewish communities of Germany, Bochum’s was nearly wiped out during the Holocaust. Its synagogue was destroyed on Kristallnacht, and only 33 of its more than 1,000 Jews returned after the end of World War II.
Like many of the Jewish communities of reunified Germany, Bochum’s is undergoing a renaissance, fueled mostly by immigrants from the former Soviet Union. A new synagogue, which seats up to 400 people, was dedicated recently. And the Jewish population of Bochum, in the Ruhr Valley, which traces its roots back to 1616, has reached its prewar levels.
Before the dedication ceremony, Ruhr Jews carried several Torah scrolls, survivors of the destroyed synagogue, to the ark of the new one.
“We are celebrating today a victory of justice over the Nazis,” Charlotte Knobloch, president of the Council of Jews in Germany, said at the ceremony. “We are here in the middle of society and we will never again allow this place to be contested.”
The new synagogue, at right, was designed by Cologne-based architect Peter Schmitz. The $10 million, cube-shaped building was financed by the Jewish community, the state of North-Rhine Westphalia and the German government.
At the three-hour ceremony attended by 550 people, State Governor Jürgen Rüttgers warned against complacency in the face of “anti-Semitism in new garb.” He said Germany must not allow “adherents of totalitarian, inhumane ideologies to destroy” Germany’s cosmopolitan, multicultural identity.