by Samuel D. Gruber
Beth Shalom, which claims to have 250 members does not have funding for the new building, which in this uncertain economy will be more difficult than even to support. Still, there is widespread interest in Liberal Judaism in Germany, and dissatisfaction with the current system that give property resources and government assistance only to Orthodox groups – this despite the fact that the majority of Jews in Germany today, whether descendants of Holocaust survivors or more recent arrivals from the FSU, do not follow Orthodox observance, and many are hardly practicing Jews at all.
Just a few years ago
Now the announcement of the Libeskind synagogue is a clear challenge – on architectural as well as religious grounds – to the established Jewish community structure. To my knowledge, only in
At least in Germany for the most part many of the “so-called” Orthodox and “so-called” Liberal Jews have few real lifestyle differences between them, and they regularly associate outside the synagogue. After all, their common experience as Jews in Germany should outweigh any differences.
It will, of course, be interesting to see what Libeskind comes up with for a synagogue. He has never designed one before, and his signature elements of spatial disorientation and attenuation, irregular angles and spaces and a willingness to upset convention rather than refine it, certainly go against what most congregations are looking for in a worship, community and education space. However, if Libeskind can let go his more recent design bombast and recapture the emotional intensity and intimacy of his Felix Nussbaum Musuem in Osnabruck, he may succeed. But modesty in Libeskind may not be what the congregation is after - certainly not if by 2018 Germany Liberal Jews are flexing their membership muscles.