“Along a narrow canal in one of Berlin’s largest Turkish and Muslim neighborhoods sits a synagogue’s ghost — the site of a worship hall that was largely destroyed by the Nazis on the November night in 1938 known as Kristallnacht,” reports the Washington Post. Today, Raed Saleh, who is Muslim and is a Social Democratic leader in Berlin’s state parliament, and Gideon Joffe, who is Chairman of the Jewish Community in Berlin, are working together to raise money to rebuild the Fraenkelufer synagogue as a house of worship and neighborhood meeting place for people of all faiths. They say their goal is to send a message of community and reassurance at a time when Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are alarmingly on the rise in Germany.
Raed Saleh, 40, was originally born in the West Bank and came to Germany with his family when he was a child. He says he sees the plan to rebuild the synagogue as a strong symbol of inclusion. “I wouldn’t be a good Muslim if I didn’t champion Jewish life in my home city, Berlin. And a Christian wouldn’t be a good Christian, either, if he didn’t intervene when a woman’s hijab is being torn from her head.”
Build in 1916, the Fraenkelufer synagogue was designed by the German Jewish architect Alexander Beer who sadly died in the Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1944. Mr. Beer built several synagogues in Berlin, but Fraenkelufer was one of the largest and said to be his most important work. Kilian Enders, the architect of the proposed new building, says he wanted to honor Beer’s original work and has kept many of the original architect’s design elements. “The [new] model is supposed to recall the old synagogue but show a clear break with the past. The scars and wounds of the past should be visible. You cannot, and should not, cover those up.”