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Synagogue in the Jewish
convalescent home in Lehnitz

black-and-white photo of a synagogue with young adults around a Torah scroll

The synagogue in Lehnitz outside Berlin was one of the last German synagogues to be dedicated before the outbreak of the Second World War. Earlier, in summer 1934, a convalescent home had been opened at a festive ceremony in the small town on Lehnitz Lake. It soon became a popular conference site for a variety of Jewish organizations, including the Jewish Women’s League and the Reich Representation of Jews in Germany. In addition to recreational and educational activities for children and adults, Lehnitz offered a home economics course for girls. It attached great importance to community spirit and the observance of Jewish customs.

photo of a mountain of coal

When a place of worship was needed, a room in the basement was converted into a synagogue. In the "Story of the Coal Cellar," Dr. Ernst Simon describes how this came about: "We first threw out the coal, then the junk, and finally the ladders. … We ordered a holy shrine, were given two Torah scrolls by the Berlin community, built a bimah, and purchased two magnificent chairs and some elegant benches for the interior. And now a new site has emerged for Jewish services."

The photo above shows a synagogue service attended primarily by young people. Frieda Glücksmann—second from the left in the last row—was the home’s director. In difficult times, she managed to make Lehnitz a place of refuge where Jews could assert their identity and culture in a hostile environment.

Synagogue room, empty

The Lehnitz convalescent home remained open until the pogrom night of November 9, 1938. The building, which still stands today, bears a memorial plaque recalling the destruction of the home and the expulsion of its residents.

Object Details:
Synagogue in the Jewish convalescent home in Lehnitz
Lehnitz, 1934–38
Photographs on silver gelatin paper
Gift of Ernest J. Mann, born Ernst Glücksmann

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