Synagogue in Thann France

Introduction

Thann is a town in the Alsace region of France and an important Jewish community developed there from the end of the Middle Ages.   The first ‘Cathedral’ synagogue was built in 1862 in Gothic style.  However, the building was badly damaged in the First World War and rebuilt in a Neo-Byzantine style.

In World War 2, the Jewish community of Thann was deported to the south of France and never recovered.  After the war, the building remained under the ownership of the regional Jewish community – the Consistoire Haut-Rhin - but regular services ceased and the building’s condition seriously deteriorated.

The Challenge

A ‘Friends of the Synagogue of Thann’ organisation was established working in association with the Jewish community and local public and heritage authorities, with the mission to restore the synagogue building (as well as the local Jewish cemetery and recently discovered mikveh). 

Working under professional guidance, the Friends’ focus initially was on stabilising the building with the aim of making it accessible to the public, which required substantial work especially with the roof structure and ceiling.  The success of this first phase has enabled the building to receive visitors and hold events eg concerts, which have been used as fundraisers for the project.

However, the building remains vulnerable and major restoration works are still required to ensure the long term future of the Synagogue.

The Plan

The current plan being implemented by the Friends is to ensure the restoration programme has the necessary resources to be fully completed which will mean the building can be utilised as an educational centre on Jewish life in Alsace, a tourist destination and an important cultural venue for the local residents and visitors.