Target: Joachim Hofmann-Göttig, Mayor of Koblenz, Germany
Goal: Revoke the sale of synagogue site to private investor and allow the Jewish community to purchase it
In order to raise money for a $675 million debt, the city of Koblenz has decided to sell the site of a Jewish synagogue to a private investor. The synagogue was a place of worship for the city’s Jewish population from 1851 to 1933, when its interior was destroyed during a spree of Nazi attacks on Jewish synagogues and businesses all across the country. After World War II, the Jewish community regained possession of the site, only to sell it back to the city to raise money. For many years, the building has served as a youth library and performance venue – only to be later abandoned.
With the Jewish community burgeoning in Koblenz, its leaders have jumped at the chance to repurchase the property as soon as the city put it up for sale. Unfortunately, the site of synagogue was not sold by itself, but as a part of a bundle including two other buildings. The total cost of the ample-sized property has proven to beyond the means of the Jewish leadership who have lost the bidding to renewable energy businessman Peter Goerlitz. His plan to turn the site into an institute for sustainable development promises a financial windfall for the city, which would stand to benefit from the spending of students expected to study and live in the area. The businessman’s construction plans specify that the synagogue building itself would house a restaurant and student apartments.
While Peter Goerlitz’s goal to found a sustainable development institute is a noble endeavor under regular circumstances, the case for the historical preservation of this religious site is more compelling. Even if the synagogue has hosted Jewish services for only 80 years, its remains still serve as a reminder of Jewish history in the city of Koblenz. If rebuilt, it would lend the Jewish community a sense of historical continuity so that present-day worshipers could feel a sense of connection to those who have prayed and congregated in the same building generations before.
Sign this petition to urge the mayor of Koblenz to allow the Jewish community to restore a sense of connection to their past by rebuilding their synagogue on its former site.
Dear Joachim Hofmann-Göttig, Mayor of Koblenz, Germany
While your city has a legitimate interest in promoting its economic prosperity, it should also take a respectful stance towards historical sites. It certainly seems like a losing proposition to halt the sale of the synagogue site to an investor who promises to turn it into a sustainable development institute since the income generated by student spending would supply the city with much-needed funding to pay off its debts.
An educational establishment that is lucrative for the city is an offer hard to resist, but the restoration of a historically rich site is more important simply because it keeps the past alive in the present . A synagogue destroyed during a violent rampage on Jewish properties during the Hitler-era Kristallnacht in 1938 has torn a hole in the fabric of German-Jewish and German history. The Koblenz Jewish community would benefit from restoring a connection to their past. Rebuilding the synagogue on its original site would allow worshipers to feel a sense of communion with their predecessors who prayed on the very same ground over a century ago.
A site of religious worship is like a thread of history that connects people across generations. That is why we ask you to revoke the sale of the Koblenz synagogue site to the private investor in favor of allowing the Jewish community to purchase it.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Francisco Martins/betta_design via Flickr