France / Alsace

Pfaffenhoffen

Old Synagogue of Pfaffenhoffen

Passage du Schneeberg, 67350 Pfaffenhoffen

The small  village shul from 1791 with its modest facade is no doubt the most moving historical site in Alsace. There is no ostentatious gold or bright marble here, just a simple synagogue with white walls and, on the first floor, its Kahlstube, its kitchen and room for any visiting schnorrers. Note, at the entrance, a stone fountain that is even older than the synagogue itself. Its Hebrew date corresponds to the year 1744. On the upper floor, the prayer hall still has its wooden pews and handsome carving of the Holy Ark decorated with lions of Juda and vines of Alsace. In the bull’s eye, note the blue and white glass, which, according to the Talmud, indicated when it was time for morning prayer, i.e., at dawn, when one could clearly distinguish the two colors. This elementary way of marking time feel out of use in the nineteenth century with the advent of the fob watch.