Tuesday, October 22, 2013

An Introduction to Jewish Vienna

Juden platz
Vienna is a city steeped in centuries of Jewish History, and despite the attacks on the Jewish population and culture in 19th & 20th century Europe, it remains to this day a place where one can explore Jewish museums, the ‘Judenplatz’, and beautiful synagogues. 

A large and flourishing Jewish population were a central part to building the city of Vienna we see today in terms of arts, business, and academia. While a lot of Jewish heritage in Vienna was destroyed by the National Socialist regime and the Second World War, the city ensures that it remembers these crimes appropriately and is committed to building and restoring the cultural heritage of Judaism and Jewish communities in Vienna. 

Today, Vienna boasts a confident and ever growing Jewish community with an excellent choice of places to visit and things to see. The Jewish City Temple, built in 1825, is the oldest synagogue left standing in the city. There are also several museums you can visit if you want to learn more about the rich Jewish history of Vienna. The newly renovated Jewish Museum houses a whole range of interesting exhibits, including modern day Jewish history; whereas the Museum Judenplatz Vienna takes us all the way back to the city’s medieval past. Both sites are active and ever changing.
Judenplatz is also home to Vienna’s Holocaust Memorial, and nearby in the city you can find the Memorial against War and Fascism. Vienna’s Central Cemetery is also home to a large Jewish section. Lastly for tourists, there are walking tours and audio guides which include numerous remembrance sites, and no doubt talk a little about some of Vienna’s famous Jews, such as Sigmund Freud and Arnold Schönberg.
Vienna is a place that will forever have a Jewish footprint upon it; although there are dark and light parts of its history, it is a certainly a city in which you can learn about and see a great deal of Austrian-Jewish heritage.