July 26, 2007

Berlin Jewish Center builds replica of Western Wall

From Ynet:

Germany’s new $8.2 million Jewish community center will feature a replica of Jerusalem’s Western Wall - accurate down to the plants sprouting from it, the center’s leaders said.

The 100-square-meter replica will be part of Szloma Albam House, whose opening Sept. 2 will provide another sign of the growth and vitality of Berlin’s 12,000-member Jewish community.

”This is a symbolic part of making Berlin a central hub of Jewish life again,” the center’s executive director, Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal told the Associated Press on Wednesday.

The project began when a team from the Chabad-Lubavitch organization traveled to Jerusalem to photograph a section of the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, famous for the tradition of inserting tiny prayers on paper into its many cracks.

Almost 19 tons of “Jerusalem Gold” sandstone quarried in the region arrived in Berlin on July 11, and has since been chiseled and installed to match the photographs.

The complete replica, located in the center’s entryway, will also include identical plants sprouting from the cracks.

The Western Wall replica is not meant to be used for worship, but as a symbol and reminder of the center’s mission.

Teichtal told the AP that the center’s architecture directly reflects center’s philosophy. A large
cobalt and light blue glass window greets visitors as a symbol of transparency. The sleek, contemporary design by Russian architect Sergei Tchoban, shows that Szloma Albam House is focused on the future.

”Within the transparency is tradition, and that’s why we’re building the wall,” he told The Associated Press. ”It’s the strongest symbol of the survival of the Jewish people.”