Jewish rebirth in Swiss city of Basel


A synagogue has been dedicated in Basel for the first time in more than 80 years.

The Feldinger Chabad Jewish Centre, located on the site of a former non-kosher butcher, is the first new synagogue in the Swiss city since 1929.

Rabbis and government officials were present at the opening ceremony.

The centre was backed by Sami Rohr, a businessman who , as a child escaping the Nazis , was sheltered by a Jewish couple living in Basel.

Mr Rohr was born in Berlin but escaped after Kristallnacht and before the outbreak of the Second World War. His parents were sent to a refugee camp but their son, then 16, was taken in by Shlomo Zalman and Recha Feldinger.

Mr Rohr, in Basel for the ceremony after a 67 year gap, said he was moved to be in the city he knew as a refugee but "in the city hall with a grand reception".

Local politician Daniel Goepfert addressed guests at the event, and said that as a third - generation politician and government official, he was "ashamed by our history".

He said: "I am ashamed by the fact that we did not accept the Jews that asked to come through our gates.

"But I am also proud that those that did succeed to enter Switzerland survived and they numbered about 20,000 people."

There have been Jews living in Basel since medieval times, when the city was home to one Europe's largest communities. The Jewish community numbers around 1,600 today.

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