At the turn of the 20th century, the city of Görlitz had a thriving Jewish population. In 1911 the new synagogue was completed on Otto-Müller Straße, a beautiful building with the capacity for 500 people, a domed ceiling, art nouveau paintings, marble floors and stained glass windows.
During the November Pogroms in 1938 Jewish businesses and homes were looted and destroyed across Germany. The synagogue in Görlitz was lit on fire just like countless others across Germany, but for some reason the fire department was called and they showed up and extinguished the fire, saving the structure from being destroyed. As a result, the Görlitz Synagogue is the only Jewish place of worship in Saxony that wasn’t destroyed on that night.
Since then, no religious services have been held there. In 1963 the city of Görlitz bought the synagogue, but nothing has been done with the building until now.The renovation process is expected to be complete this year for the reopening of the Görlitz Synagogue as a cross-denominational cultural meeting place.
This summer debate has arisen in regards to the Star of David that once adorned the top of the synagogue. Initially, there were no plans to replace it. It was thought that it might be inappropriate for a building that was no longer in use as a place of worship to have the Star of David again. The city took care to work together with the Jewish community of Dresden for decisions like this.
Those who support replacing the Star of David on the synagogue say that it belongs there as part of restoring the building and it would be an important reminder for the city of the past and of the Jewish community that belonged to it.
Critics say that the Star of David should not be replaced on a building that will no longer be used for prayers and that instead of reminding the city of the past, replacing the star would serve to erase it.
A rabbi from Berlin has weighed in, saying that from a religious point of view, it wouldn’t matter if the building is no longer in use by the Jewish community. Restoring the Star of David would also be historically accurate in the steps to restoring its former appearance.
Recently the mayor of Görlitz, Octavian Ursu, has weighed in, telling journalists that for him “it’s not a question of if, but how”.