Franz Morak: New Synagogue Expression of the Vitality of Jewish Faith

Informationen aus Österreich (03/01/04)

“The opening of a new synagogue is the expression of the diversity and vitality of the Jewish faith in Austria. Today is for me a sign that Jewish life has a future in our country,” said State Secretary for the Arts, Franz Morak on February 22, 2004 at the opening of the synagogue of the liberal Jewish community, Or Chadasch, in the Robertgasse of Leopoldstadt, a part of Vienna’s 2nd district.

For Austria, Jewry is a “treasury of intellect and culture,” claimed Morak in his opening speech. The culture of the Fin de Siècle was extraordinarily influenced by Jewish intellects, artists and patrons. “The unspeakable tragedy of the Holocaust brought this element of Austrian identity to an abrupt and tragic end. It began with the November pogrom in 1938 and was followed by the extinction of a culture. Death and decay came over Vienna’s Jewish community and destroyed Jewish life,” announced the State Secretary. The opening, however, signalizes that “the Jewish culture is putting down new roots in Austria.” Open-mindedness and liberal thinking has had a long history in Viennese Jewry. Particularly in the Leopoldstadt, the diversity of Jewish life and faith is better reflected than in any other district of Vienna.

The new synagogue, whose construction and artistic form was supported by the City of Vienna with € 125,000, “hopefully will be a place of spiritual study for the Jewish community in Vienna and will make a contribution to the diversity of Austrian Judaism as well as a bridge to inter-religious dialogue,” stated State Secretary Morak at the closing of his speech.