Chapter 2:
Talk of the Town

“Talk of the Town” tells the story of the former Synagogue in Niederzissen. The house of worship, consecrated in 1841, is operated for almost 100 years until its desecration in the November pogroms of 1938. After its state-enforced sale, the building is used as a smithy and workshop until the 1990s. A historic turning point comes in 2007, when the municipality of Niederzissen considers buying the former synagogue to establish a memorial and meeting center with a space for exhibitions and events. The driving force behind this is the local cultural- and heritage society, supported by a small citizen’s initiative acting independently of both local politics and the heritage society. In 2012, the year of the inauguration, this initiative eventually develops into an association for the support and promotion of the former synagogue. During renovations, a so called Genizah is recovered in the attic of the synagogue, of which only parts had been known before. A Genizah is a hidden collection of holy scriptures and worn-out ritual objects containing the name of God. The findings include Torah covers (me’ilim), prayer books with weekday prayers (siddurim) and prayers for high holidays (machzorim), Passover texts (haggadot) and a ram’s horn (shofar); as well as account books, family letters and a number of contracts, mostly concerning cattle trade. In the permanent exhibition of the former Synagogue in Niederzissen, revised in 2014, selected pieces from this attic treasure trove are displayed. In the virtual tour, items from the Genizah are shown along with pieces from the permanent exhibition in a display storage for select objects.