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New Synagoge

New Jewish life in Munich

In 2006 the New Main Synagogue was inaugurated at the historical date of 9/11. The solemn and uplifting ceremony was attended by 1200 guests who followed the procession carrying the silver-topped Torah scrolls through the old part of town to their final home in Sankt Jakobs Platz. Jewish leaders said the ceremony – on the 68th anniversary of the ill-famed Kristallnacht, the Night of the Broken Glass, where the Jewish Main Synagogue was destroyed on personal order of Adolf Hitler- was a palpable sign of their permanent place in the town’s community.

Sankt Jakobs Platz is one of the most historical and ecumenical, as it were, locations in Munich. Its religious history reaches back as far as the early 12th century as it was the site of a Sankt Jakobs Chapel which up to the 14th century was used as a gathering point for the pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela. Starting from 1221 it hosted the first Franciscan monastery (male) of Munich, which in 1254 was replaced by a Clarisan (female) monastery. And now, to bring the circle to a close, the once vibrant site comes back to life boasting the newly built Jewish Community Center accomodating the Main Synagogue (500 seats), a cultural center with primary school and kindergarten, the Jewish Museum (800 m2 of showrooms), a kosher restaurant, a cafe and event rooms. Many activities are on offer, even courses in the Hebrew language which are open to every one.

Besides its purely religious aspect, this common was of great economical importance during the complete MA’s up to the 19th century. Religious and economical life was bridged by the so-termed Jakobidult, a church festival fair, followed by other Dulten. The economical importance of those fairs was such that traders of other Bavarian towns were welcomed to have a stall there. The activities born from religious traditions were then followed by a rich caleidoscope of purely economical deeds, such as the construction of a fire-house, a silk factory, a salt stock house, a grain store, and, of all things, an arsenal, (medieval sense of humour), a setting-up of a haymarket, not to mention the Scarlet Horse Race which took place till 1786. The price was not a scarlet horse but a 26-ell long scarlet cloth made in London. (How international can you get!).

Built of travertine stone topped by a glass cube offering a beautiful view of the sky, the synagogue alone cost about € 72 millions .Funding came from Munich’s Jewish community, the city of Munich, the State of Bavaria and private donators. The blend of modern design, beautiful natural materials, an intrigueing complex lay-out offering interesting spaces, the trees and water-games have created a very inviting place.