Jewish Vienna

City Temple of the Jewish Community

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Light installation in the form of a bent star of David
© Jüdisches Museum Wien

A beacon of light in remembrance

The Jewish Museum Vienna and the acclaimed international artist Brigitte Kowanz initiated the OT project for the 2018 anniversary year. Light installations were installed at the 25 locations where synagogues and houses of prayer once stood in Vienna. Lukas Maria Kaufmann’s star beacon comprises a mast and a light fixture. When approached, the curved lines of the light source come together to form a Star of David. Information about the synagogue it marks is also displayed. Using a QR code, visitors can access a virtual reconstruction of the Jewish place of worship.

Spread across 16 of Vienna’s 23 districts, the OT project will raise awareness in the city and among its inhabitants of former Jewish places of worship. In Hebrew, ‘ot’ means symbol or sign. In early Jewish teaching it was also to describe the spiritual relationship between god and the people. The objective of the memorial project is not purely remembrance, it also takes a stand against discrimination.

The November pogroms of 1938 marked the terrible start of the systematic persecution and annihilation of the Jewish people. On November 9 and 10, 1938, businesses in Vienna were plundered and laid to waste, 27 Jews were murdered, many seriously injured and more than 6,500 Jewish citizens arrested. With only one exception, the City Temple, all of Vienna’s synagogues and prayer houses were completely destroyed. 80 years later, the victims of the November pogroms will be remembered and awareness raised of what Vienna looked like before the Nazis rose to power. Prior to 1938, Vienna had the third largest Jewish community in the whole of Europe, and Judaism was an important component of life in the city.

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Light installation in the Altes AKH in the form of a bent star of David.
OT project © Lukas Kaufmann
Light installation in the Altes AKH in the form of a bent star of David.
OT project © Lukas Kaufmann