Inaugurating the new synagogue
Inaugurating the new synagogueWaldkliniken Eisenberg

Thuringia’s Minister President Bodo Ramelow, Charlotte Knobloch and other leading figures from politics and religion on Sunday attended Waldkliniken Eisenberg’s inauguration ceremony for the Synagogue Eisenberg.

Waldkliniken Eisenberg inaugurated the Synagogue Eisenberg in its new clinic building with a formal ceremony.

Following the symbolic handing over of the keys by Rabbi Yitshak Ehrenberg, Thuringia Minister President Bodo Ramelow, who is also acting President of the German Bundesrat, declared his support for Thuringia’s culture of welcoming and religious pluralism.

“That is a powerful symbol of open-mindedness and a welcoming culture,” he said.

The Waldkliniken is now one of the very few clinics in Europe to offer top-quality medicine with certified kosher stays as well as its own synagogue for Jewish guests.

As of 3:00p.m. local time on Sunday, both the oldest and the youngest synagogues in Europe are located in Thuringia. With the ceremonial installation of the Torah scroll in the synagogue and ritual chanting and prayers, a fully-equipped prayer room has now become available to the guests of the Waldkliniken Eisenberg.

The 30-square-meter Synagogue Eisenberg, with its almost 80-year-old Torah and furnishings from the workshops of the famous Kibbuz Lavi in Israel, is located in the sensational new clinic building designed by star architect Matteo Thun and provides an inviting space for up to 16 people to worship and pray.

The symbolic key to the synagogue was presented to Minister President Bodo Ramelow by Rabbi Yitshak Ehrenberg following the inauguration: “We are very pleased that, with the Synagogue Eisenberg, Thuringia is now home to both the newest and the oldest synagogues in Europe at the same time. That is a powerful symbol of open-mindedness and a welcoming culture. And, above all, a symbol against anti-Semitism. An important statement in times like these.”

“We are proud of the fact that this synagogue is located in a municipal hospital that, for years, has been a national and international ambassador as well as a beacon of Thuringia visible from afar. It demonstrates all that is possible here with us, with the vision and energy of a doer like David Thies and an effective team.”

Charlotte Knobloch, former President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany and President of the Jewish Community of Munich and Upper Bavaria since 1985, joined in celebrating the inauguration held in one of Germany’s best hospitals of its size.

“With the Waldkliniken in Eisenberg, Managing Director David-Ruben Thies and all those responsible have achieved the impossible: They’ve created a hospital where it’s a pleasure to stay,” Knobloch said. “And now with the opening of the synagogue, they’ve set another mark: The prayer room is not only a symbol of the clinic’s openness, but also a visible statement of support for the Jewish people in this region. Its opening signifies a historic moment in the truest sense of this term: I congratulate the Waldkliniken Eisenberg on this extraordinary achievement and wish them the best in cherishing the special qualities of this day and infusing them into their future daily work.”

An integral religious component of the Jewish community, the Synagogue Eisenberg was currently the fourth Jewish house of worship in Thuringia, according to State Rabbi Alexander Nachama, who also said: “The Jewish Community of Thuringia is very pleased to be able to offer our community members and guests another fully equipped synagogue with the Synagogue Eisenberg. I am sure that Jewish guests from all over the world will appreciate the distinctiveness of having a synagogue in a clinic.”

Rabbi Avichai Apel from Frankfurt, who is an Executive Board Member of the Orthodox Rabbinical Conference Germany (ORD), said the ceremonial opening of the Synagogue Eisenberg was both a moving and historic moment.

“Today is a happy day for Germany and Thuringia,” he said, adding, “Especially in times like these — unsettled by a pandemic, war and growing anti-Semitism — the opening of the Synagogue Eisenberg is impressive proof that Jewish life is flourishing in this country and it plays an integral role in Germany and Europe despite the dark times of the past. Thanks to the Waldkliniken Eisenberg’s courageous initiative, today’s event not only sends a positive message from Germany, it also sends a message about the future of Jewish life in Europe.”

“Europe’s newest synagogue is intended to serve as a place for peaceful quiet moments and prayer as well as a place open to all for meeting and exchanging ideas, for learning more about and from one another, and for dispelling prejudices. Mazel tov, Waldkliniken Eisenberg!”

David-Ruben Thies, Managing Director of Waldkliniken Eisenberg, discussed the significance of the Synagogue Eisenberg for the municipal hospital, encapsulating it this way: “Here today we’re breaking new ground in all areas: In architecture, in medicine, in caregiving, in hospitality. We’re one of the very few top hospitals in Europe to offer outstanding medicine and the possibility for all religious guests to fully practice their religion, even during a hospital stay. From the initial planning stages for our new building, a ‘kosher stay’ played an integral role in the design. I’m very pleased that this has now been fully realized with the inauguration of the synagogue. We welcome Jewish patients from around the world to our clinic.”

Speakers of the Inauguration ceremony
Speakers of the Inauguration ceremonyWaldkliniken Eisenberg
Minster President Bodo Ramelow and Rav Ehrenberg
Minster President Bodo Ramelow and Rav EhrenbergWaldkliniken Eisenberg