France / Alsace


Synagogue of Obernai. Photo by Ondrej Zvacek – Wikipedia

Traces of the old Jewish community can still be seen in this charming tourist town.

On ruelle des Juifs, an arched doorway with an engraving in Hebrew signals the entrance to the old synagogue, dating to 1454. On rue du Général-Gouraud the voussoir of an arch bears the Hebrew date 5456, corresponding to 1696 C.E. In the porch, note the two blessings hands carved in stone with the inscription “The master, rabbi Samson, the Cohen”.

Long the walls of the synagogue, you will observe the vestiges of a Jewish community house built circa 1750 with traces of the Holy Ark and altar. The hammered lilies recall that the French kings protected the Jews of Alsace (in the courtyard, an image reproduces the place of worship). When the  old synagogue became too small, it was deconsecrated in 1876 and replaced by the neo-Romanesque one still in use today.

Nevertheless, the Jewish population of Bern declined throughout the 20th century, from 144 in 1910 to 138 on the eve of the Second World War. Following the Holocaust, the synagogue damaged by the occupiers was restored in 1948. In 1970, there were only about 60 Jews in the city. In 2021, this number is estimated to be around ten or fifteen families.

Among the personalities of Oblast, it is difficult to forget André Néher, the famous thinker and teacher. A  place André Néher was inaugurated in 2000. Twelve Stolpersteine were placed in the streets of Obernai in June 2022 in memory of an Obernese victim of the Shoah.

Sources : Encyclopaedia Judaica,,

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