An act of anti-semitism

Der hebräische Gottesname kehrt nach über 80 Jahren an die Kichenwand zurück

In times of growing anti-Semitism, the Berlin congregation of St. Peter's and St. Mary's together with Rabbi Andreas Nachama (House of One) set a sign of admonition and reconciliation. With an inter-religious prayer for peace, after more than 80 years a replica of the former Tetragram (the Hebrew name of God JHWH) is attached to the Parochial Church.

It was anti-Semitism that caused the parish church council of the Parochial Church on 22 February 1939 to remove the tetragram above the church portal. Almost exactly 81 years later, a gilded metal reconstruction true to the original will return to its place, high above the portal of the Parochial Church that belongs today to the St. Peter-St.Mary's congregation in the centre of Berlin.


"The decision to remove it came from within the congregation and therefore weighs all the more heavily. Thoughts contemptuous of man and God spread insidiously even in our congregation and led to the well-known consequences, of which the removal of the tetragramm was only one of the visible ones", says Pastor Corinna Zisselsberger.


The Tetragram


The tetragram above the portal of the Parochial Church: Four Hebrew characters stood here, read from right to left: Jod, He, Waw, He. The name JHWH appears over 6,800 times in the Hebrew Bible, the First Testament. Out of reverence, so as not to misuse the name of God (Exodus 20:7), the tetragram is not read and pronounced, but paraphrased. "Ha-Shem": The name. "Adonaj": Lord. "Ha-Quadosch": The saint.


For almost 240 years, the Tetragramm was a visible sign of the rootedness of Christianity in Judaism - that's how long the Hebrew inscription of the name of God had been a hallmark of the portal of the church in Berlin's Klosterstraße. In the tympanum, the triangular pediment of the main portal surrounded by columns, the tetragram, formed from sandstone, was resplendent in the midst of the rays, thus showing the confession of the God of the people of Israel.


A few weeks after the November pogroms, the parish church council of the Parochial Church decided in early 1939 to bring this inscription into "a contemporary and artistically appropriate form". This meant, they had it removed. This step didn't come as a surprise. Already since 1933 the Parochial Church had, as it says in its parish magazine in 1937, "put all its work into the thought and service of the Führer".


The costs for the reconstruction of the Tetragramm in the amount of 8,000 Euros were taken over by the fiduciary foundation Kirchliches Kulturerbe der Deutschen Stiftung Denkmalschutz (DSD) through the Gernot-Mentrop-Fonds.



12 noon:  Peace prayer in the Parochial Church with Pastor Corinna Zisselsberger and Rabbi Andreas Nachama, Music: Christian Cantor Marie-Louise Schneider and Jewish Cantor Esther Hirsch,

afterwards assembly of the last letter of the tetragram at the Parochial Church

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