Guided tours

1. Chaos under the Golden Dome! A brief journey through Jewish Berlin and the New Synagogue from 1866 until today.

“How come, the priest knows Hebrew,” asks Jossel Schlenker, after visiting the New Synagogue Berlin in Sammy Gronemann’s 1920’s novel “Tohuwabohu” (biblical word for Chaos). On this overview tour, we will be exploring questions from the book and beyond. We will offer a telling of different stories that occurred on Oranienburger Street and in the synagogue: about gates and ruins, weddings and a few brave policemen, prophets and female rabbis. We will talk about themes such as hope, uncertainty, destruction, Jewish self-determination and the role they have played on the Berlin Jewish community of past and present.

A view from the golden dome over the city centre of Berlin is part of this overview tour only during the summer months.

We welcome lovers of order and chaos.

Duration: 60 or 90 Minutes.

Admission:

    • guided tour 60 minutes 60 € / reduced 43 €
    • guided tour 90 minutes 90 € / reduced 65 €
    • plus Admission per people 7,00 € / reduced 4,50 € / students  with schoolclasses 2 €

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2. What happens/ed in the Synagogue? Stories and Ritual Items.

The New Synagogue Berlin in Oranienburger Street was opened in 1866 and used to be one of the best-known places of Jewish worship in Germany. It was not only a newly erected and magnificent building, but also a place for new rituals: an organ, a mixed choir, a prayer book in German, and the first female Rabbi in the world (who was ordained in 1935). Today, one of the remaining rooms is used as a synagogue, and once again its congregation is introducing innovations. We will visit the contemporary synagogue as well as the permanent exhibition and explore themes of tradition and modernity: Why was there a women’s section in the New Synagogue in the 19th century? What is a Mezuzah? Which texts can be found in the Torah? We will also discuss, how to be charitable in Judaism and why and whether a shark fin soup is kosher or not.

All those who are curious from age 5 to 120 welcome! Especially designed for young children and those who are new to learning about Judaism.

Duration: 60 or 90 Minutes.

Admission:

    • guided tour 60 minutes 60 € / reduced 43 €
    • guided tour 90 minutes 90 € / reduced 65 €
    • plus Admission per people 7,00 € / reduced 4,50 € / students  with schoolclasses 2 €

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3. The New Synagogue Berlin during National Socialism.

The compound of the New Synagogue and our permanent exhibition highlight different aspects relevant to Jewish life in Berlin during National Socialism. We will engage with questions of how did Jewish community life look after 1933? The many artifacts in the exhibit tell different stories of self-assertion and resistance. Many Jewish Berliners were forced to leave their hometown and emigrate, while others were arrested, deported and murdered. The story of the building itself also highlights these themes and questions as it was saved from total destruction in November 1938 by local policemen. Later, it was taken over by the Nazis, as were the archives of the German Jewish communities, which were held in the building. In October 1942, more than 500 employees of the Jewish community were selected by the Gestapo, in the rooms of the synagogue, for deportation to Theresienstadt. In the permanent exhibition, the fate of the original “Ner Tamid” (the eternal light, which symbolizes the divine presence in every synagogue), tells a story of destruction and survival. This guided tour is most appropriate for those age 14 and older.

Duration: 60 or 90 Minutes.

Admission:

    • guided tour 60 minutes 60 € / reduced 43 €
    • guided tour 90 minutes 90 € / reduced 65 €
    • plus entrance fee per person 7,00 € / reduced 4,50 € /  for pupils as a class 2 €

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4. From Ruins to Museum. Stories of Reconstruction(s).

Since 1991, the symbolic Star of David shines once again atop the golden dome. But major parts of the former main hall of the New Synagogue, which accommodated up to 3200 worshippers, are no longer standing. This guided tour analyses architectural characteristics of the New Synagogue, which was beautifully conceived by Eduard Knoblauch and Friedrich August Stüler. As we explore the house and the compound in a one-hour-walk, the context and function in the GDR will be explained and discussed. The challenges and considerations of the reconstruction from 1988 onwards will be displayed through photos and rediscovered items, which are on view in the exhibition today.

Everybody interested in architecture and monument protection is invited – as well as school classes, who deal with the visualisation of the still- or no-longer-existent.

Duration: 60 minutes

Admission:

    • guided tour 60 minutes 60 € / reduced 43 €
    • guided tour 90 minutes 90 € / reduced 65 €
    • plus entrance fee per person 7,00 € / reduced 4,50 € /  for pupils as a class 2 €

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5. Open Ye the Gates – for all those, who would like to know more.

This guided tour is designed for those who want to go deeper into the historical and religious particularities of Jewish life under the Golden Dome on Oranienburger Street. The permanent exhibition, “Open Ye the Gates”, as well as the contemporary synagogue in the remaining parts of the historical building will be visited. The history of the building since 1866 reflects the respective situation of the Jewish community. We will be focusing on 4 periods: the end of the 19th century, National Socialism, the GDR and the period after the reconstruction in 1988 and reunification. The New Synagogue and the neighbouring “Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums“ (Higher Institute for Jewish Studies) were central places for Liberal Judaism. We will learn about associated figures such as the composer Louis Lewandowski, Rabbi and philosopher of religion Abraham Joshua Heschel, as well as the historian Herbert A. Strauss. We will also explore the remains of and discuss the other institutions on the compound, such as the Central Archives for German Jews. We will discover pieces of art from the first Jewish Museum in Berlin and discuss its remarkable existence between the years 1933 and 1938. If time allows, we will discuss German remembrance culture, restitution work and newly developing Jewish life in Berlin today and its specifics after the Shoah.

A tour of the surrounding area can be booked additionally. It will take us to “Leo-Baeck-House”, the building of the former Higher Institute for Jewish Studies, through the memorial plaque for Abraham Geiger, and the old Jewish cemetery on the Große Hamburger Straße, where Moses Mendelssohn was buried and which was used as a collection point prior to the deportations by the Nazis.

This tour is designed for those who already have some understanding of Judaism and is most appropriate for older children and adults.

Duration: 90 Minutes (without surroundings)

Admission:

    • guided tour 60 minutes 60 € / reduced 43 €
    • guided tour 90 minutes 90 € / reduced 65 €
    • plus entrance fee per person 7,00 € / reduced 4,50 € /  for pupils as a class 2 €

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6.  Walk through the “Spandauer Vorstadt” – the surroundings of the New Synagogue Berlin

Separately or in addition to all of the guided tours a guided walk through the surroundings of the New Synagogue Berlin can be booked. The “Spandauer Vorstadt” used to be a centre of Jewish life in Berlin. Today, Jewish institutions and organisations have returned to this area. Walks will be adjusted to the topic of the guided tour in the house. Places of interest could be: the former Jewish girls’ school, the former orphanage “Ahawa”, the congregation “Adass Jisroel”, the Leo-Baeck-House and the old Jewish cemetery at Große Hamburger Straße. Memorial plaques and stumbling stones tell the stories of Regina Jonas, the first ordained female Rabbi in the world, of Cioma Schönhaus, who forged passports for persecuted Jews during National Socialism and escaped to Switzerland, and of Philipp Kozower, who was a member of the Board of the Berlin Jewish Community and who was deported to Theresienstadt and murdered in Auschwitz together with his wife and three children.

Duration: 60 minutes

Admission:

    • guided tour 60 minutes 60 € / reduced 43 €
    • guided tour 90 minutes 90 € / reduced 65 €
    • plus entrance fee per person 7,00 € / reduced 4,50 € /  for pupils as a class 2 €

Booking >>