Hamburg’s Reform community dedicates first cemetery

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Hamburg’s Reform community dedicates first cemetery

The German community inaugurated a section of Ohlsdorf cemetery for the Reform movement in the city

An old Jewish headstone in a cemetery
An old Jewish headstone in a cemetery

The Reform congregation in the German city of Hamburg has dedicated its first Jewish cemetery.

In ceremonies earlier this month, Rabbi Moshe Navon, who also heads the Liberal congregation in Bad Pyrmont, inaugurated the community’s section of the Ohlsdorf cemetery, which was supported with a gift of £2690 for plantings at the site from the Hamburg-West/Südholstein parish church and £894 from the Holy Ghost Community in Pinneberg.

Until now, the community has used the main Jewish cemetery in Hamburg-Altona.

Ursula Büttner, vice president of the Pinneberg community’s synod and a frequent guest at the Liberal congregation’s services, called the donation “a sign of reconciliation and peace,” according to the September newsletter of the European Union for Progressive Judaism.

The Hamburg Liberal Jewish Community was officially established in 2004 and is a member of the Union of Progressive Jews in Germany. It reports a membership of about 300, plus a circle of about 200 supporters and friends, including non-Jews. The community’s website says its next aim is to open its own synagogue.

According to the Central Council of Jews in Germany, there are currently 2,445 registered members of the Jewish community in Hamburg.

In related news, the city of Hamburg is planning to submit in December an application to UNESCO, the United Nations organisations responsible for education and heritage sites, for recognition of its main Jewish cemetery — the Jüdische Friedhof Altona — as a World Heritage Site. A decision would not be made until mid-2018.

Covering about 4.6 acres and holding some 8,100 graves, the cemetery — known for its grave designs — was established in 1611 by a Sephardic community originating in Portugal. An Ashkenazi section was added a few years later, and most of those buried there were Ashkenazi. Among the famous personages buried there are the father of the German poet Heinrich Heine. It has been an official German cultural landmark since 1960.

Though officially protected, Jewish cemeteries in Germany are sometimes targeted by vandals. Last week, police in Strasburg reported that unknown perpetrators had knocked down a heavy gravestone in the city’s Jewish cemetery. They have asked the public for assistance in identifying the culprits.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: