Historic European synagogue (stock image)
Historic European synagogue (stock image) iStock

A historic Austrian synagogue in the town of Kobersdorf has been renovated and reopened as a cultural center.

The new synagogue of Kobersdorf was built in 1860 after a fire damaged the old synagogue. A flood in 1895 permanently damaged the building.

The synagogue of Kobersdorf was looted and desecrated by the Nazis in March 1938. After the Holocaust, it was returned to the Vienna Jewish community due to only three survivors returning to Kobersdorf. The synagogue sat in disrepair for decades.

In 2020, the building was designated as a protected monument. In 2019, the property was purchased by the Austrian government.

The ceremony for the restored synagogue was attended by the Governor of Burgenland Hans Peter Doskozil, representatives of the Jewish Community Vienna (IKG) including President Oskar Deutsch, Diocesan Bishop Ägidus Zsifkovics, the Israeli Ambassador to Austria Mordechai Rodgold and representatives from across society, the Krone Zeitung newspaper reported.

“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,” Governor Doskozil said.

Deutsch thanked the officials who worked to save the synagogue.

“My special thanks go to Governor Doskozil, who recognized 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 building is set to be a cultural, scientific and education center that will focus on Jewish culture and history. The new space contains room for lectures, conferences and concerts.