Jewish city story of Vienna

The History Jewish Vienna: Amazing and Devastating

Vienna is a city with a rich artistic and intellectual legacy. With its palace-like architecture, decadent chocolate and iconic waltz, it is one of Europe’s shining jewels. Vienna’s Jewish community had a large hand to play in forming this respected reputation. For years the Jewish community was the intellectual life blood of Viennese culture. Several times throughout their history the community has known devastation and rejection. Even till today antisemitism occurs within the nation, despite the lessons of history that followed the destruction of the Holocaust.  

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Stadttempel Synagogue

The Stadttempel (English: City Prayer House), also called the Seitenstettengasse Temple, is the main synagogue of Vienna, Austria. The synagogue was constructed from 1824 to 1826. The luxurious Stadttempel was fitted into a block of houses and hidden from plain view of the street, because of an edict issued by Emperor Joseph II that only Roman Catholic places of worship were allowed to be built with facades fronting directly on to public streets. This edict saved the synagogue from total destruction during the Kristallnacht in November 1938, since the synagogue could not be destroyed without setting on fire the buildings to which it was attached. The Stadttempel was the only synagogue in the city to survive World War II, as Nazi paramilitary troops with the help of local authorities destroyed all of the other 93 synagogues and Jewish prayer-houses in Vienna, starting with the Kristallnacht. In August 1950, the coffins of Theodor Herzl and his parents were displayed at the synagogue, prior to their transfer for reburial in Israel. In the 1981 Vienna synagogue attack, two people from a bar mitzvah ceremony at the synagogue were murdered and thirty injured when Palestinian Arab terrorists attacked the synagogue with machine guns and hand grenades. Today the synagogue is the main house of prayer for the Viennese Jewish Community of about 7,000 members. The synagogue has been declared a historic monument. The synagogue was designed in elegant Biedermeier style by the Viennese architect Joseph Kornhäusel, architect to Johann I Joseph, Prince of Liechtenstein, for whom he had built palaces, theaters and other buildings. Construction was supervised by the official municipal architect, Jacob Heinz. The synagogue itself is in the form of an oval. A ring of twelve Ionic columns support a two-tiered women's gallery. Originally, the galleries ended one column away from the Torah Ark, they were later extended to the columns beside the ark to provide more seating. the building is domed and lit by a lantern in the center of the dome, in classic Biedermeyer style. A commemorative glass made at the time of the synagogue's dedication and etched with a detailed image of the synagogue's interior is now in the collection of the Jewish Museum (New York). The synagogue underwent renovation in 1895 and again in 1904 by the Jewish architect Wilhelm Stiassny, adding considerable ornamentation, and, in the opinion of architectural historian Rachel Wischnitzer, "the serene harmony of the design was spoiled by renovations." Damage inflicted on Kristallnacht was repaired in 1949. The synagogue was renovated once again in 1963 by Prof. Otto Niedermoser. Image Attribution: Bic (Wikimedia Commons), CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons


Seegasse Jewish Cemetery

The Jewish cemetery in Roßau, which is also known at the Seegasse Jewish cemetery because of its location in the Seegasse, is the oldest preserved cemetery in Vienna. Members of the city's Jewish community were buried here between 1540 and 1783. The Jewish cemetery lies in the suburb of Roßau in the 9th district of Vienna, Alsergrund, and covers an area of approximately 2000 m2. Today, the site is part of the yard of the old people's home in the Seegasse and can be accessed via the home. Where the home now stands, there used to be a Jewish establishment for quarantining the sick. In 1629, the Seegasse was known as the Gassel allwo der Juden Grabstätte and, from 1778 it was known as the Judengasse ("Jews' lane"). In 1862, it was renamed Seegasse (Lake lane) after a fish pond that used to be in the area which was described in a document from 1415 as a "lake". The Jewish cemetery in the Seegasse was created in the 16th century. Between 1540 and 1783, it was the main burial site for members of Vienna's Jewish community. Following a pogrom against Viennese Jews in 1670, the Jewish merchant Koppel Fränkel paid a sum of 4000 gulden, in return for which the city committed to maintain the cemetery. Use of the cemetery as a burial site continued thereafter until 1783, when emperor Joseph II forbade the use of all cemeteries within the city walls. A new cemetery for the Jewish community was created outside the city walls in the suburb of Währing (see Jewish Cemetery (Währing)). In line with the edicts of the Jewish religion, the cemetery in the Seegasse was left untouched, while Christian cemeteries within the city walls were closed and built over. In 1943, the Nazi authorities resolved to raze the cemetery and to build over the site. A group of engaged Viennese Jews responded by removing some of the gravestones, which they buried at the city's main cemetery, the Zentralfriedhof. In the 1980s, 280 of the 931 gravestones that were buried there were rediscovered and returned to their original homes as recorded in Bernhard Wachstein’s surveys of the cemetery from the 1910s. The cemetery was sanctified once again on 2 September 1984. The inscriptions on the gravestones in the cemetery are entirely in Hebrew.


Jewish Museum Vienna

The Jewish Museum of the City of Vienna is a place of encounter and understanding. It enables insights into Judaism, its holidays and customs, but also into youth culture. At its two locations, the Jewish Museum Vienna presents a unique overview of the history and the present-day life of Viennese Jews. We are looking forward to your visit! The Jewish Museum of the City of Vienna is a place of encounter, interaction and understanding, which seeks to raise awareness of Jewish history, religion, and culture. The first Jewish museum in the world was founded in Vienna in 1895, sponsored by a group of Viennese Jewish citizens. The collection focused on the culture and history of the Jews in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, particularly Vienna and Galicia. In the interwar years Zionist objects were added, reflecting the new political discussion at that time. The museum was closed by the Nazis in 1938 directly after the Anschluss. In the last year of its existence the inventory listed 6,474 objects. In 1939 the museum collection was transferred to the Museum of Ethnology and other institutions in Vienna. The Anthropology Department of the Natural History Museum in Vienna used some of the items for its anti-Semitic propaganda exhibition “The physical and psychological appearance of the Jews". Most of the objects were returned to the IKG Vienna in the early 1950s, although some were not restituted until the 1990s. Over half of the objects have disappeared; it is practically impossible to discover whether they were stolen or deliberately destroyed. Objects once listed in the Jewish Museum collection turn up occasionally on the art and antiques market. The surviving objects – on permanent loan from the IKG to the present-day Jewish Museum Vienna – form a unique component of the current collection.

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World Jewish Travel Official August 30, 2022

Jewish Vienna, Austria: A Community of Influence and Suffering

The History Jewish Vienna: Amazing and Devastating Vienna is a city with a rich artistic and intellectual legacy. With its palace-like architecture, decadent chocolate and iconic waltz, it is one of Europe’s shining jewels. Vienna’s Jewish community had a large hand to play in forming this respected reputation. For years the Jewish community was the intellectual life blood of Viennese culture. Several times throughout their history the community has known devastation and rejection. Even till today antisemitism occurs within the nation, despite the lessons of history that followed the destruction of the Holocaust.   The Difficult Beginnings of Jews in Austria Since the 12th century Jews have made a home for themselves in Vienna. The first employment Jews had within Vienna were as financial advisors and mintmasters to Duke Leopold V. Not long after they arrived they were in need of protective orders. The antics of the third crusade had resulted in murderous devastation for the community. In 1238 Emperor Frederick II gave the Jews a charter of privileges allowing them a certain level of protection and autonomy. However, this didn’t last long. Over the next few centuries the Jews of Vienna continued to fall victim to brutal persecution. Oftentimes they were either annihilated or baptized by force. The community was finally expelled in 1420, although some families remained undercover or lived their lives as Christians.  Judenplatz: The Jewish Ghetto of Vienna There would not be another large wave of Jewish immigration till the 17th century with the arrival of Jews from Ukraine. Around that time Emperor Leopold established the first Jewish ghetto, Judenplatz, which is today the Leopoldstadt area of Jewish Vienna. There were roughly 130 households within the ghetto, and within its walls Jews were left to conduct their affairs in peace.  The Jewish Ghetto of Vienna, Judenplatz This small window of acceptance allowed the community to thrive both financially and intellectually. However this happiness was not meant to last with more waves of increasingly violent antisemitism crashing through the walls of the ghetto. The Emperor eventually liquidated the ghetto and evicted all its inhabitants. One of two great synagogues in the ghetto was repurposed as the Church of Leopold. Today the quarter remains a historic site, complete with additional monuments dedicated to preserving Jewish history.  The Rise and Fall of Jewish Vienna  Despite all the barriers, expulsions, and pogroms the Jews of Vienna continued to grow exponentially. This had a great deal to do with the fact that Jews had been granted lawful citizenship in 1867. With this development waves of Jewish immigrants arrived to make the city their home. By the 19th century Jews played major roles in the academic, musical, intellectual, and artistic worlds of Vienna. Three out of four Nobel Prize Winners at the time were Jewish. This was also when the birth of the Haskalah movement, or Jewish enlightenment, took place. It is no surprise that with such a rich intellectual and cultural pulse the Jewish community of Vienna has produced some of the most influential Jewish figures in history. One area of expertise in which Jews seemed to thrive was in the concert halls of Vienna. Arnold Schoenberg is one such name with a heavy degree of weight and brilliance. He is hailed as being one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. Most notably he is recognized for his unique contributions to Austria’s expressionism movement.    Arnold Schoenberg twelve-tone composition for the opera Moses and Aron, on loan from the Arnold Schoenberg Foundation By 1938 the community of Jewish Vienna had made a reputation for itself as one of the most influential Jewish communities in the world. The antisemitism Jews had experienced seemed to be a thing of the past. However under the surface the seeds of hatred still ran deep. When Austria was annexed to Germany, an event known as the Anschluss, violence and torment amongst the community returned. Jews were forced to close their businesses, were banned from most public spaces, and had their property confiscated. The Viennese Jewish community was also one of the first to be deported to concentration camps. More than 65,000 Jews were sent to the camps and only a handful returned.     Encounter the Past of Jewish Vienna All this history and more can be found at the Jewish Museum of Vienna. Established in 1895 the museum houses some of the oldest surviving Jewish Viennese artifacts. While most of the artifacts were either destroyed or sold by the Nazis, the museum has managed to reclaim numerous items. However, the whereabouts of over half the original collection remains unknown. Nevertheless, the museum manages to take visitors on a journey of discovering the religious, cultural, and spiritual history of Viennese Jews.  [caption id="attachment_40458" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Jewish Museum of Vienna[/caption] Of course when discussing the history of Jews in Austria, attention must be paid to sites commemorating the Holocaust. The Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial also known as the Nameless Library almost resembles more of a military bunker than a monument. The concrete shelves house books, whose spines have been turned inward. The intention behind this choice is to commemorate the empty space of memory that came with the murder of 6 million Jews. Entire generations were lost and with them their knowledge, traditions, and families. [caption id="attachment_40455" align="alignnone" width="800"] Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial[/caption] Austria is Celebrating Jewish Culture Once Again  While there are plenty of avenues to explore the extensive past of Jewish Vienna there are also ways to celebrate its present. The Vienna Jewish Film Festival offers a rich outlook into the various shades of Jewish life from around the world. The films shown at the festival cover a whole range of international Jewish films. At the end of screenings guests can ask the director questions, sit in on specialist lectures, and other activities to better connect with each film. Jewish culture and history is once again being celebrated in Vienna, yet the horror of its past will never be forgotten. It is even more amazing that with such a dark history the Jewish community of Vienna managed to fulfill a major Torah requirement. They were and are a light unto their nation.   

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Schabbat Schalom! Habt ein schönes Wochenende. ☺️


#shabbat #shalom #freitag #friday #jewishmuseumvienna #jewishvienna #instamuseum #lovemuseums #wien #vienna #lovevienna #weekend #Wochenende #shabbat #schalom #shabbatshalom #schabbatschalom #streetsofvienna

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»Die ganze Kultur des ehemaligen ›Yiddish Land‹ liegt mir sehr am Herzen.«

Am Donnerstag beginnt das yiddishculturefestivalvienna! Unser Kurator Marcus G. Patka hat mit Festivalleiter und "Jiddischist" roman.grinberg.vienna über seine sowjetischen Wurzeln, Musikersein zwischen Kunst und Beruf und natürlich das Festivalprogramm gesprochen. Das Interview gibt`s in unserem Blog! Link in der bio.

📷: © Ouriel Morgensztern

#yiddish #jiddisch #yiddishculturefestival #festival #ycfv2023 #jewishmuseumvienna #wien #vienna #instamuseum #lovevienna #jewishvienna #yiddishmusic #konzert #klezmer #jewishculture #jewishmusic #jewish #blog #museumsblog

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"In front of the Gourmet-Store“

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Heute ist der Gedenktag gegen Gewalt und Rassismus im Gedenken an die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus. 🕯
#remembrance #remember #jewishmuseumvienna #jewishvienna #instamuseum #wien #vienna

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Shiny six-stranded challah decorated with an ornamental letter "vav" - the long string symbolizes the Hebrew letter that stands for the number 6: The two challos for shabbos thus add up to 12, which is the number of show breads of the temple`s bread offering. Get the recipe and instructions over at my blog JewishVienneseFood.com -> https://jewishviennesefood.com/challah-at-ya-from-vienna-the-austrian-origins-of-the-classic-jewish-braided-eggy-yeast-bread-recipe-iconicjewishfood/ #challah #challahdough #challahbake #challahmaking #challahbread #challahbraiding #challahbaking #challahrecipe #shabbat #shabbatshalom #shabbos #gutshabbos #gitshabbos #gitshabbes #lekovodshabbos #jewish #jewishbread #jewishbaking #jewishcooking #jewishfood #jewishcuisine #jewishtradition #jewishculture #jewishheritage #jewishvienna #jewishmuseumvienna #jewishviennatours ...

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