Temple Synagogue in Hamburg, Germany




In the early 19th century, Hamburg had the biggest Jewish community in Germany. The Neue Israelitische Tempelverein of Hamburg, founded in 1817, was one of the earliest Reform congregations and played an important role in the development of the Reform movement in its theology, liturgy, music, and architecture.


In the early 1840s, its members decided to build a new temple which was the very first Reform synagogue to be constructed in a major German city. It was an imposing building combining forms of neo-classicism with elements of neo-Gothic and Moorish style.


Today, the Temple is considered one of the most important architectural traces of the Reform movement of the 19th century in Germany.


The Challenge


In 1931, the Jewish community moved to a new location and the Temple was sold. During World War 2, the building was partially destroyed during air raids on Hamburg. Two parts of the structure are still preserved: the entrance in the west, and the eastern part with the apse. Today the property is in private ownership and parts serve as a garage. The rear of the building is out of use and in very bad condition. The whole site is in danger due to complete neglect.  


The Plan


The first stage of the preservation plan is to conduct a research project. This will be undertaken by the ‘Institute for the History of Jews in Germany’ based in Hamburg, and ‘Bet Tfila – Research Unit for Jewish Architecture’, Technische Universität Braunschweig who will document the structure and history of the Temple.


In recognising and drawing attention to this important heritage, the longer term plan is to protect the remnants of the site, turn it into a memorial and educational centre, and explore it being used once again as a synagogue in consultation with the current Reform community in Hamburg.


Visit the Temple campaign website for more information.