Chief Executive of Foundation for Jewish Heritage in London, Michael Mail, visits Temple ruins in Hamburg

On June 29, Michael Mail, Chief Executive of the Foundation for Jewish Heritage in London, visited Hamburg. The English foundation has been supporting the rescue of the temple ruins in Poolstraße for several years. Michael Mail met with Siri Keil and Miriam Rürup to discuss the situation on site and visited the temple ruins.

For more on the visit of this London-based Foundation and about the Foundation itself see here:

Michael Mail (Chief Executive of Foundation forJewish Heritage) and Miriam Rürup (Chairwoman of the Association TempelForum) on site.

City of Hamburg acquires ruins of Jewish reform Temple

We are thrilled to share the news of the Senate of the City of Hamburg having acquired the remnants of the liberal Temple from 1844 in Hamburg city center. This is a groundbreaking step in the joint efforts to save this important remnant of Jewish heritage. Now this last remaining remnant of Jewish history in Hamburg’s city centre can finally become a lively and open place that is publically accessible. This is a unique opportunity to make a gem of Jewish topography visible again.

After all, some 300 years of Hamburg’s Jewish history have taken place in the Altstadt and Neustadt of Hamburg, today’s downtown area. Of this long history, the ruins of the temple in Poolstraße are the last witnesses telling this Jewish story of Hamburg.

Association for the protection and opening of the Temple now registered!

The district court of Hamburg has recently registered the foundation of the association “TempelForum – Verein zum Erhalt und zur Öffnung der Tempel-Ruine in der Poolstraße e.V.” (TempelForum – Association promoting the protection and public accessibility of the Tempel-ruins in Poolstrasse, Hamburg) We are very pleased and will keep you updated on news and developments on this website. Members of the board are Kolja Harms and Alexandra Merten, both architects, and Miriam Rürup, historian, who also serves as the chairwoman and spokesperson of the association.

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International Appeal

This statement of support was submitted to the Mayor of Hamburg, Peter Tschentscher, in October 2020. Almost 300 people from 16 different countries signed the petition. Among them numerous Rabbis, members of Jewish communities, Museum directors, architects, art historians and many locals and neighbors. Many of the signatories sent moving personal statements in addition to their signature. If you also want to support this statement, please do so via email to: (including: Name, Location, Institutional affiliation and (if any) connection to the Temple)

The New Israelite Temple Association in Hamburg, founded in 1817, was one of the world’s first Reform Jewish congregations. The founders intended to preserve and expand Jewish religious observance by offering liturgical practices that were compatible with the modern sensibilities of a new generation. The reforms included the publication of a vernacular prayer book and the introduction of sermons delivered in German rather than Hebrew. For its first 20 years, the Congregation held services in a rented building. The cornerstone for a new synagogue was laid in the Poolstraße in 1842 and religious services were inaugurated on September 5, 1844. The Temple was used continuously until 1932, when the congregation moved to a new and larger building on Oberstraße. The Poolstraße synagogue was heavily damaged by Allied bombing in 1943/44, but two remnants, the front and the rear parts, still stand as reminders of the origins of the historic movement of Reform Judaism.

Today, the last remnant of the world’s first Reform Temple building, in private ownership, is threatened by plans to sell the lot. Proposals for development have the potential to destroy this historic monument, which is central to the spiritual lives of millions of Reform Jews around the world. The ultimate form in which this structure can best be preserved has yet to be determined. It is essential that the authorities of the City of Hamburg take all necessary steps to prevent further damage to this structure while a long-term preservation plan is developed. The plan should assure public access to the site and honor and protect this eloquent relic of Jewish and Hamburg heritage, which the City of Hamburg should finally embrace as its own.

WE THEREFORE URGE the City of Hamburg to act now to preserve and make permanently accessible the remains of the New Israelite Temple in Poolstraße, as well as the original Temple site. Public access must be protected, so the site may stand as a permanent monument to this historic institution in world religious history.

ACT NOW! Please indicate your support of this statement via email to: (including: Name, Location, Institutional affiliation and (if any) connection to the Temple)

For more information see here: +++Please circulate this appeal! +++++ Please excuse crossposting ++++++

New publication about Hamburg Temple

The Hamburg heritage foundation Stiftung Denkmalpflege ( published a booklet on the history and current situation of the Temple Ruins in Hamburg.

You can watch three presentations of the booklets’ chapters on Youtube (the authors Andreas Brämer, Ulrich Knufinke and Miriam Rürup).

The booklet „Der Israelitische Tempel in Hamburg“ was published as volume no. 7 of the series „Archiv aus Stein“ in cooperation with the Institute for the History of the German Jews. ISBN 978-3-936406-63-4.

“Temple Lighting” with Michael Batz

In December 2019 two events with the light artist Michael Batz took place. On the 1st Advent as well as on the lightning of the 1st Hanukkah candle (on the 4th Advent), more than 100 people came to the first and second “temple lighting”. Originally it was planned to let the temple ruins themselves glow with a light installation by Michael Batz. Since the temple ruins in the back yard were not accessible as it is private property, both events took place as an artistic action on the street. With photographs and stories about the history of this unique place. The event was repeated again in February 2020 in the school adjacent to the back yard.

International Support

This ruin is probably one of the most important architectural remains of the Jewish reform movement, which started in the 19th century in Germany and Hamburg. In the meantime, the state of the world’s first reform synagogue building is also attracting international attention. The Foundation Jewish Heritage in London, sister congregations of the Liberal Jewish Community in Great Britain and the USA and the World Union of Progressive Judaism are particularly concerned.

The Foundation for Jewish Heritage, London, has included the object in its “Top 19 Watchlist” of the most threatened Jewish relics in Europe (the list includes a total of 3,318 objects). There is clearly a danger that it will continue to deteriorate through neglect and thus disappear from contemporary perception. The site is to be sold and even if it is listed as a historical monument, it is unclear what will happen to it.

Save the Temple Ruins in the Poolstraße!

In Hamburg’s Neustadt district, hidden in a backyard, is a miserably neglected ruin. It is the remnant of a bomb damage from 1943 and the remains of a 175-year-old, historically valuable and extraordinary synagogue, which has been rotting ever since. This is an outrage. Read on…

Miriam Rürup, in: Hamburger Morgenpost, 27.11.2019