Königsberg, East Prussia

Synagogue-Lomse-Insel

The Königsberg New Synagogue and Jewish Orphanage - Before destruction in 1938.

The Jewish community of Königsberg built their first synagogue in 1680 in the Tragheim district, which at that time was outside of the city. By the early 20th century, Königsberg had five synagogues. Pictured above is the grant New Synagogue on Lomse island, dedicated in August of 1896. It was destroyed during the destructive riots known as the Kristallnacht, or “the Night of Broken Glass”, targeting Jews throughout Nazi Germany on November 9-10 of 1938, and carried out by the Sturmabteilung paramilitary of the Nazi party and its supporters. 

Synagogue-Interior-1936

Interior of the original 1896 Königsberg New Synagogue

Now, almost 80 years later, the grand synagogue is being rebuilt, and on exactly the same place as where it once stood, adjacent to the former Jewish Orphanage to which it was once attached, on what was then called Lindenstrasse on Lomse Island, but is now Oktyabrskaya Street. It will also resemble the original structure as much as possible, hence strongly recall its impressive grandeur. The building will include a school, nursery and community center, and designed to serve as many as 2,000 people.

Synagogue-redesign-2017

Design of the new Grant Synagogue - intended to be as faithful to the original architecture as much as possible.

The plan to rebuild the destroyed synagogue was announced in November of 2011 at a special ceremony by Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi David Shvedik, the Russian city’s chief rabbi. He estimated then  that it would take two years to build the new facility, including plans to add a school, nursery and community center to the completed structure.

Circus on Lomse

Lomse Island - with circus occupying original synagogue location next to the Jewish Orphanage

However, they would first have to evict the current tenants: a local circus that occupied the very same spot that the New Synagogue had once stood, and getting them to leave took a lot longer than anticipated. The circus was offered as much as 400,000 to go, but they still said no. But eventually  a deal was reached a few years back, and at last the rebuilding could begin.

Rebuilding-the-Synagogue-2017

The construction of the new Königsberg Synagogue in 2017 that will also include a Jewish community centre

In June of 2016 the Federation of Jewish Communities in Russia (FJCR), the Russian Jewish Congress and businessman Vladimir Katzman signed a memorandum of cooperation on the construction. Katzman donated 5,000,000 euro's towards the project. The synagogue, which will be one of the largest in Russia, will operate under the FJCR. “Until this day, Russia had some kind of a “Jewish quarter” only in Moscow, in Maryina Roshcha district that has a large complex of buildings of the Jewish community. We plan to create something similar in organization and infrastructure in Kaliningrad,” FJCR President Alexander Boroda said.