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1946

Restoration and rededication of the synagogue in 1946

The synagogue on Friedrichstraße was the repaired by the U.S. Army as a center of Jewish life. It is primarily to the credit of Rabbi William Z. Dalin that an active Jewish community could re-emerge.

The synagogue was desecrated on the night of November 10, 1938; it was severely damaged but not destroyed. After the forced dissolution of the community with the last major deportation in 1942, the building was left to its fate. The bombing of Wiesbaden caused further damage, which was first repaired in a makeshift manner after the end of the war so that the first services could be held. Without the American troops stationed in Wiesbaden and the military government, the repair of the synagogue on Friedrichstraße would have been unthinkable. Rabbi William Z. Dalin, United States Army Air Corps Chaplain, deserves credit for this. With great effort, he succeeded in having the synagogue restored within his 21 months of service in Wiesbaden. Dalin had requested a transfer to Wiesbaden shortly after the end of the war because he was particularly concerned about addressing the needs of the DPs and the Jewish communities in Germany. He was not only responsible for the structural repairs. It is also thanks to him that the Torah scroll rescued by Eisig Matzner in 1938 from in front of the synagogue on Friedrichstraße, which had survived the war in Switzerland, could be transferred back to Wiesbaden.

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Appreciation of Dalin’s work by the board of the Wiesbaden Jewish Community

Numerous Jewish soldiers served in the U.S. Army, for whom Dalin organized religious services, meetings and festivities in the synagogue, among other places, to which the Jews living in Wiesbaden were always expressly invited. He treated them with special respect and empathy. It was the United States Air Force that created structures for the care of the Jewish DPs. The National Jewish Welfare Board provided prayer books for the rededicated synagogue, and the Jewish community was involved in the distribution of food specially provided for the Jews. Rabbi Dalin devoted great attention to the affairs of the Wiesbaden Jews. Dr. Leon Frim, Dr. Ansbacher and Jakob Matzner honored and characterized his work on his farewell in October 1947 as follows: “All of us have been moved and strengthened by the services you conducted. The thoughtful and inspiring adresses you gave, supported and comforted by the warm interest you took in all the happy and sad affairs of our people.”

The Seder evening for Passover 1947 could again be celebrated in the synagogue

Rabbi Dalin was also responsible for organizing the Seder evenings for Passover in 1946 and 1947. In 1946, the Jewish soldiers, their families and the members of the Wiesbaden community met in the Valhalla Theater on Mauritiusplatz. In 1947, the Seder was held in the packed synagogue. What significance the Seder evenings had for the Jews living in Wiesbaden at that time can hardly be imagined from today’s perspective. This also applied to the dignified performance of the Shabbat services.

Without the commitment of the U.S. Army, Jewish life could not have returned to Wiesbaden so quickly after the Shoah – if at all. William Z. Dalin left Wiesbaden in October 1947 and served a short time in India before succeeding Rabbi Seymour Stern at the National Jewish Welfare Board, serving in San Francisco, in 1948. The close ties between the Wiesbaden Jewish Community and the U.S. Army continue to this day. Joint events are held on a regular basis. Members of the U.S. Army participate in services at the Wiesbaden synagogue and in community life.