Restored Kobersdorf synagogue reopens as cultural centre

The synagogue in the town of Kobersdorf in the Austrian state of Burgenland has been comprehensively restored and reopened as a cultural center.

In the presence of the Governor of Burgenland Hans Peter Doskozil, representatives of the Jewish Community Vienna (IKG) headed by President Oskar Deutsch, as well as Diocesan Bishop Ägidus Zsifkovics, the Israeli Ambassador to Austria Mordechai Rodgold and numerous representatives from culture, politics and society, the former synagogue was reopened in a ceremony for its new purpose.

“It is of great concern to the province of Burgenland to preserve the Jewish heritage of our province. With the acquisition and renovation of the synagogue, we are securing a valuable part of Burgenland’s identity that was destroyed by the Nazis, and we are setting a visible sign of reparation and a responsible culture of remembrance,” emphasised Governor Doskozil.

For a president of a Jewish community, there would be nothing better than to open a synagogue, said IKG President Oskar Deutsch: “My special thanks go to Governor Doskozil, who recognised the importance of saving the Kobersdorf synagogue, and now – since very few Jews live in Burgenland – it contributes as a venue with Jewish content to a better understanding of Judaism and in the fight against antisemitism.”

The ceremony included a musical performance by students of the Joseph Haydn Conservatory, by Senior Cantor Shmuel Barzilai and by Menahem Breuer, an artist born in Eisenstadt in 1934 who fled to Israel from the Nazis and survived the Shoah.

The house is to serve as a cultural, scientific and educational center with a focus on Jewish culture and history, and in the future will offer space for lectures, concerts and symposia.

After a fire had damaged the old synagogue, the new synagogue of Kobersdorf was built in 1860. With about 600 Jews, the community recorded the peak of the Jewish population at this time. A flood in 1895 caused permanent damage to the building.

In March 1938, the synagogue of Kobersdorf was desecrated and devastated  by the Nazis. It was restituted to the Vienna Jewish community after the war, but remained unused.

The Holocaust claimed about 160 out of 200 Jewish residents of Kobersdorf. After the war, only three survivors returned to the town. Devastated by the Nazis, it was restituted to the Vienna Jewish community after the war, but remained unused.

In 2010, the building was placed under monument protection. In 2019, the state finally bought the property.


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