Oranienburger Strasse Synagogue


The Oranienburger Strasse Synagogue, re-established in 1998, consists of a small sanctuary on the third floor of the original building’s former front hall. An egalitarian congregation meets here, under the auspices of the Jewish Community of Berlin. Men and women enjoy the same religious rights. The liturgy is contemporary. Congregants are given the opportunity to shape the service to meet their needs. The synagogue offers not only regular religious services, kiddushim and holiday events, but also “Learning Minyans”. Here, congregants take it upon themselves to teach each others about Jewish traditions and continuity. They also conduct shiurim (learning sessions) on Talmud as well as on Jewish perspectives surrounding socio-political themes. The Oranienburger Strasse congregation was started by a small active group of people and has turned into a successful synagogue. Ms Gesa Ederberg officiates as rabbi.

The following text appears by permission of the Nicolai Verlag publishing house. It is excerpted from the book "Jüdische Orte in Berlin" by Andreas Nachama and Ulrich Eckhardt:

“Open the gates, that the righteous nation may enter, the one that remains faithful” (Isaiah 26:2). On May 7, 1995, exactly 50 years after liberation from the National Socialist terror which had attempted to wipe out European Jewry, something unbelievable occurred: At the heart of a newly invigorated Jewish community, the Neue Synagoge (New Synagogue) was dedicated for a second time, this time as the home of the Centrum Judaicum. The structure’s golden dome, standing 50 metres high, is once again a landmark in the city’s skyline, symbolizing the continuation of Jewish tradition and life that once again emanates from within this refurbished building, with its rotunda, vestibule, representative hall, exhibition space and auditorium, The centre is open to all – despite 24-hour security. Even the mikveh (ritual bath) was reopened, in the basement of the right-hand tower.

Two of Berlin’s premier architects of the time, Eduard Knoblauch and Friedrich August Stüler, constructed the Neue Synagoge in the years between 1859 and 1866. The Jewish community consecrated the Moorish-style structure on September 5, 1866. With its 3,000 seats, it became Germany’s largest and most prestigious synagogue. Thanks to the foresight and intervention of Police Chief Lieutenant Wilhelm Krützfeld (1880-1953), of Berlin’s 16th police district, damage to the building was minimal following the pogrom of November 9, 1938. A memorial plaque recalls his civil courage. Krützfeld had been able to convince rampaging SA troops to let the fire brigade put out the blaze that had been set, saying he merely wanted to protect the historic neighbouring buildings. Thanks to this intervention, prayer services were still held in the building through March 1940.

Newspaper columnist Heinz Knobloch described Wilhelm Krützfeld’s courage, which earned him a posthumous grave of honour 1992at the Parochialgemeinde Cemetery in the city’s Weissensee district. The German Wehrmacht desecrated the synagogue, using it as a warehouse after 1940. Ultimately, the building was severely damaged by fire after an air raid on the night of November 22-23, 1943. The heavily damaged main nave was demolished in 1958 – the front of the building was preserved as a memorial. Reconstruction began only in 1988, one year before the fall of the Berlin wall. Three years later, on September 5, 1991 -- 125 years after the original dedication -- restoration of the building was completed, its façade transformed into an impressive figure. Once again, Isaiah’s proverb could be seen above the portico. On May 7, 1995, the Jewish community re-consecrated the building as its Centrum Judaicum. The main sanctuary was not reconstructed. However, outdoor sculptures outline and recall the dimensions of the building’s original nave. An impressive memorial of black granite stones arranged in a half circle, recalls the site of the apse, where the Torah Ark had once stood. The architecture is a proud expression of the self-confidence of Berlin’s Jews, who found their religious as well as cultural and spiritual home here. For example, Nobel Prize laureate and physicist Albert Einstein gave his well-known violin concert there on January 29, 1930. Unlike the city’s first major Jewish house of worship, the Alten (Old) Synagogue on the Heidereutergasse, the Neue Synagoge was the first major synagogue to house a liberal congregation and to feature a mixed choir and organ. The Reform rituals were characteristic of the integration process taking place within Germany’s Jewish communities. Jewish tradition was to adapt to local traditions and to the changing circumstances of the Jews.

Melwin Warschauer (1871-1955) presided at the Neue Synagoge until 1938. He became one of Germany’s most notable rabbis, famous for his passionate speeches: His legendary funeral eulogy for Max Liebermann was delivered under the scrutiny of the Gestapo, at the Schoenhauser Allee Cemetery. He fled to London in 1939; there he wrote his memoirs, “Im jüdischen Leben” (About Jewish Life), first published in Berlin in 1995, with a forward by columnist and author Heinz Knobloch.

Germany’s most renowned composer of Jewish liturgical music was Louis (Lazarus) Lewandowski (1823-1894), whose effect was felt at the Neue Synagoge beginning in 1866. Not only was he a brilliant composer; he was also the first master scholar of Jewish heritage to have been accepted by the Prussian Academy of Arts, where he would later be appointed professor. More than 100 Jewish institutions, including schools, research and welfare agencies, were located within walking distance of the Neue Synagoge. Since the opening of the Stiftung Neue Synagoge – Centrum Judaicum foundation, with its Jewish Gallery, the Jewish Adult Education Centre, publishing facilities and countless events, the neighbourhood has once again become a centre of Berlin’s Jewish life.

Gabbaim of the Oranienburger Strasse Synagogue:

Prof. Dr. Gerhard Baader

  • In addition to being gabbai of the synagogue, Prof. Baader is also a board member of the German chapter of the Child Survivors Association
  • A professor at the Humboldt University, his primary areas of research have been medicine under National Socialism as well as Jews and medicine – with an emphasis on medical ethics. He also is a visiting professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Hadassah Medical School.

Aharon Risto Tähtinen

Miriam Rosengarten



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For the schedule of religious services, click here. 


Donations for Oranienburger Straße synagogue can be transferred to:

Jüdischen Gemeinde zu Berlin, Synagoge Oranienburger Straße
Konto  6000031180
BLZ  100 500 00
Berliner Sparkasse

IBAN: DE27100500006000031180

Address & Contact

Synagoge Oranienburger Straße

Oranienburger Str. 28-31
10117 Berlin


Kabbalat Schabbat

Winter 18:00

Sommer 19:00

Schabbat Schacharit

ganzjährig 10:00

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