The CommunityThe Community’s Magazine, too, now appears on the Internet, (same address as abvove). This makes it unnecessary for me to report in detail and just give an overview.
The New Community Building
I have reported on the project in my last Letter. Building work is expected to start early in 2003.
The city of Bamberg is hard pressed to provide its promised contribution to the cost because of a hole of 23 Million Euros in its budget.
The reasons for this situation are two- fold: firstly, because of the business recession, the income from the Trade Tax (which goes to communes, not the State) has been reduced by 30%. But just in this situation, the Federal Government has thrown more financial burdens on the communes. They have got toget- her and drawn the attention of the Govenment to the serious situation which has arisen.
The Jüdische Allgemeine Wochenzeitung, 31 January 2002, the premier German Jewish press medium, printed an interview with Heinrich Olmer, the president of the Bamberg Community. (Nähseidenfabrik wird Gemeindehaus”).
From this we note that of the 2.7 Million Euros cost of the project, 511000 Euros were not then available from various public support organisations and the City of Bamberg. Olmer hoped to raise this sum from the Community’s own funds, from credits and donations (A curatorium with a prestigious local membership is occupied in finding the required donations).
Olmer sees the new Centre open to all Bambergers. He does not think of it as a a purely Jewish house, but a place of encounter and cooperation. As an educational centre with a museum, it will enable students and teachers in the whole of Northern Bavaria to acquaint themselves with the Jewish religion and tradition. Furthermore, the facilities will be available for general cultural purposes of the city.
The synagogue will be on the first floor of the Centre. It can be adapted for different numbers of congregants up to 140. In accordance with Olmer’s intentions “to preserve the old and create something new”, the portal of the 1853 Synagogue, demolished in 1984, will be incorporated in the builing.
The reporter closed his piece with the observation that the Bamberg Synagogue and Jewish Centre will be one more piece in the mosaic of Jewish life in the presentday Bavaria and the German Federal Republic.
On 13 December 2002, the Fränkische Tag reported that the session of the Building Senate of the City Council on 11 December gave the project its final, unanimous consent. The City’s director of construction reported that the financing was in place, except for the the last 250000 Euros, which the Jewish community hoped to receive from further donations.
The project seems to be widely welcomed. The investment will turn what is currently an eyesore in the centre of the city into one more pearl in the World Heritage Centre Bamberg and will set an example of how a city can deal with its Jewish inheritance. The building which will be restored and converted into the new Centre was of course the former factory of Kupfer, Hesslein & Co. since the 1860s. (See Heinrichsblatt of 6/10 February,”Synagoge und Begegnungs- stätte”, FT of 13. December, “Startschuss für ein einzigartiges Projekt”).
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© by Thomas Starz