Completed Project

Voehl Synagogue

Voehl, Hessen, Germany

Built in 1827, Voehl Synagogue is a two-story, timber-framed building which until 1938 served as a community center, school, and residence, and also as synagogue for the Jewish congregation of Voehl and neighboring villages. While many synagogues in Germany were razed during World War II, Voehl’s simple, domestic appearance may have saved the building from destruction after its sale to non-Jewish owners. The exterior, interior, and arrangement of the rooms remain much as when the synagogue was built. Of particular note is the domed cupola, painted the light-blue of the sky with more than 300 painted golden stars, and a wooden sun in the center. Only a rose window containing a Star of David was destroyed.

A rare example of traditional rural German timber-framed Jewish religious architecture restored

The building remained privately owned after the war. It was sold in the late twentieth century and, under new ownership, restoration plans for the wear and tear on the house began. In 2003, World Monuments Fund, working with Foederkreis and the regional preservation authority, Federal State Office Hessen for Care and Preservation of Monuments, assisted with restoring the cupola, the eastern wall, the inner central wall, and the women’s balcony. In 2005, WMF assisted with restoration and reconstruction of the floor below the cupola. Replacement floor slabs were fabricated using historically accurate materials and cut to the measurements of the original slabs. Original materials that were suitable for reuse were included in the new floor.

Voehl Synagogue is a rare example of traditional rural German timber-framed Jewish religious architecture, as well as a reminder of the history of Jewish cultural life in the region. A new generation is now enjoying the building, which serves as a venue for concerts featuring Jewish music, and as a cultural and memorial center.

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