Mainz is one of the oldest and most traditional Jewish communities in Europe. In the Middle Ages, the city was a centre for Jewish teachings and religion. The central synagogue designed by the Stuttgart architect Willy Graf and built in 1912, located at the crossroads between Hindenburgstrasse and Josef Strasse, was looted and set alight during the pogrom night of 9th to 10th November 1938.
In the meantime, the Jewish community of Mainz rose once more to about 1000 members, especially due to the influx from Eastern European countries. Since the Jewish community’s premises had become too small, it set itself the goal to build a new community centre at the location of the previous central synagogue in Hindenburgstrasse. The blueprints for this originated from the Cologne architect Manuel Herz. The city of Mainz actively supported this project.
“Kedushah” is the Hebrew word for a sanctification blessing, whose five letters give the new Mainz synagogue its shape and structure. Its architecture, with its autonomous design language and its façade surfaces covered by green glazed ceramic profiles, turns its back on usual building structures and materials. Manuel Herz bridges the gap from the Middle Ages to the present day without making direct references to persecutions, pogroms, or the holocaust. Rather, his architectural work is based upon traditional texts from the Torah.
Throughout the forecourt, upright fragments of the portico from the previous building form an additional link between the destroyed central synagogue from 1912 and the current synagogue.
Inauguration of the New Synagogue of Mainz in 2010
The official opening ceremony took place on Friday 3rd September 2010. The chairpersons of the Jewish community invited Stella Schindler-Siegreich, minister president Kurt Beck, and mayor Jens Beutel to the event.
Numerous invited guests from home and abroad, former Mainz Jews, contemporary witnesses, and members of the community took part in the ceremony, Federal President Christian Wulff and the ambassador of the State of Israel, Yoram Ben Ze’ev, amongst them. On the open house day in September 2010, hundreds of interested Mainz citizens visited the new place of worship. The opening ceremony began with the mounting of the Mezuzah on the synagogue’s main entrance by Rabbi Julian-Chaim Soussan, followed by him bringing the Torah scrolls into the prayer room.
After Stella Schindler-Siegreich’s welcome, Federal President Wulff, minister president Beck, mayor Beutel, the chairpersons of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Charlotte Knobloch, as well as Fritz Weinschenk, a Jew born in Mainz in 1920 who travelled from New York, all spoke. 98 years after the inauguration of the Mainz central synagogue on 3rd September 1912 and around 70 years after its destruction at the hands of the Nazis, the state capital of Rhineland-Palatinate has become a visible sign of a new living Judaism once again. The postal address of the new Jewish community centre, located in a place steeped in history, was renamed “Synagogenplatz” from Hindenburgstrasse.