Brussels synagogue becomes European symbol

June 4, 2008 at 4:41 PM
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BRUSSELS, June 4 (UPI) -- The largest synagogue in Brussels is taking on a new role as the Great Synagogue of Europe.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was to join the synagogue's chief rabbi, Albert Guigui, for a special dedication service Wednesday. Sir Jonathan Sacks, the chief rabbi for Britain and the Commonwealth, was to give the keynote address, the BBC reported.

The synagogue, a Romanesque-style building, was erected in Brussels in 1878. At the time, the Jewish communities in many European capitals built Great Synagogues that served as symbols of Jews' status as equal citizens of their countries.

The Brussels synagogue survived the Nazi occupation of World War II, although 25,000 Belgian Jews died in the Holocaust. The city now has about 20,000 Jewish residents.

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