Recently I explored with some friends the „SHuM – communities plus Frankfurt on the Main. It turned out that the most impressive part of our trip was the visit to the new Synagogue in Mainz. When my friends looked at it from outside with a very skeptical and critical view and expressed their disapproval I started asking myself how people that live there or those like us coming to see it think of it. It is strange, it does not fit, it is a foreign body.
I have always liked the building because it provokes and makes you curious to learn more about it but now I wonder if the building despite all the positive intentions evokes a certain distance or negative point in the relationship between the Jews and the non-Jewish citizens of Mainz.
There is of course no continuity of Jewish life like all over Europe. The Jewish community has today about 1000 members mainly of course coming from the former Soviet Union with an Israel born orthodox rabbi. Remember the synagogue that had been standing there was like in Frankfurt – The West End Synagogue – the place of the reform community of Mainz. This community is gone forever.
Manuel Herz the architect just did a fabulous job because he built a synagogue that expresses what Jewish Mainz is famous for: one of the important centers of rabbinic doctrine in the 10/11th centuries. Me’or hagola – reference to Gershom ben Jehuda who lived and taught in Mainz in the 10th century is written at the entrance door to the synagogue. The same you see when you sit inside the synagogue. Definitely a place to visit!!!