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New status for Brussels synagogue

Synagogue on Rue de la Regence (Photo: Redvers, via flickr.com (Creative Commons CC-BY))
Great Synagogues were established across Europe in the 19th Century

The main synagogue in Brussels has been re-dedicated as the Great Synagogue of Europe, in a sign of EU-Jewish unity.

The president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, joined chief rabbis from across Europe for the ceremony in Belgium's capital.

Correspondents say it is a symbolic move, but the organisers hope the synagogue will become the focus for pan-European Jewish events.

The synagogue is a Romanesque building dating from 1878 on Rue de la Regence.

It survived the Holocaust, during which nearly 25,000 Belgian Jews perished.

'Prayer for Europe'

The dedication ceremony to mark the creation of a Great Synagogue of Europe was a traditional one - but the event was more political than theological, the BBC's Dominic Hughes reports.

In the 19th Century, Great Synagogues were established in many European capitals, in response to the European Enlightenment - demonstrating that Jews were full and free citizens.

Now Jewish leaders want to make that statement at a European level, he says.

The ceremony of dedication, led by the synagogue's Chief Rabbi, Albert Guigui, involved the reading of a specially-drafted "Prayer for Europe".

Among the guests was the chief rabbi of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, Sir Jonathan Sacks.

He was joined by fellow members of the Conference of European Rabbis and several other leading figures from major European institutions, including Mr Barroso and at least 17 ambassadors.


SEE ALSO
Berlin opens Holocaust memorial
10 May 05 |  Europe
Holocaust Museum's 'journey to light'
15 Mar 05 |  Middle East
Country profile: Belgium
22 Mar 08 |  Country profiles


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