The Moses Mendelssohn Academy

The Moses Mendelssohn Academy derives its principal support from a public foundation established in 1996 at the initiative of the Nussbaum Family, a Jewish family originally from Halberstadt.

The foundation strives to meet two goals. It is dedicated to the preservation of a cluster of historical buildings . At the same time, it imparts knowledge about the history, religion and culture of Jews and Judaism in an open and engaging way.

The Moses Mendelssohn Academy promotes tolerance and intercultural communication.

The Moses Mendelssohn Academy is located in the Klaus synagogue at Rosenwinkel 18.

The Moses Mendelssohn Academy foundation of Halberstadt is affiliated with the Moses Mendelssohn Center in Potsdam and the Moses Mendelssohn Foundation in Nurnberg.

The Klaussynagogue

Blick in die Klaussynagoge mit Frauenempore, um 1920

The Klaus Synagogue was built in 1700. At that time, the Jewish community was small and spread out and religious education was hardly available. Berend Lemann (1661-1730), resident of Halberstadt and the Court Jew of August the Strong, took it upon himself to use his wealth and influence for the improvement of his religious community.

With the consent of the landowners of the region, Brandenburg, and Frederick the First, the Elector of Brandenburg and the future King of Prussia, Lehmann had the Klaus built, designating it specifically as a house of study.

Spendenhand im Eingangsbereich, Foto um 1920

On Pogrom Night 1938 the Klaus Synagogue was not damaged. But as Jewish property it was
Aryanised. Possession of the building fell to the regional office of the Minister of Finance who became its landlord.  The building was used to house Jews.  On April 12, 1942, all its Jewish inhabitants were deported.  As of  1944 the building was used as a forced labor camp. The former prayer space was split into two floors by the addition of a ceiling—and new floor.

After the war, the building was used to house refugees. Later it was turned into a paint brush factory and then a residential building. After the reunification of Germany, the Klaus Synagogue was turned over to the Jewish Claims Conference as a Jewish property to which there was no individual heirs.  

Thanks to private funding the buildings were acquired for the Moses Mendelssohn Academy Foundation. After basic restoration, the Moses Mendelssohn Academy took possession of the buildings in 1998 and the former Klaus Synagogue was used once more for its original purpose, as a house of study.

"A booth covered with grasses"

The apartment on the second of the Klaus Synagogue contains the basis  of a sukkah, a ritual  structure whose roof, partly open to the sky, was covered with grasses. The structure, which can still be visited, is associated with the festival of Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Booths, the autumnal harvest festival.