Until recently, it was believed that the largest mezuzah in the world was at Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport.
But now, surprising as it may seem, it is Berlin that is honoured as the city proudly showing off the biggest mezuzah.
Considering that Berlin was the central point for so many Nazi atrocities against the Jews during the 1930s and 40s, highlighted in particular by the Kristallnacht pogrom in 1938, it seems ironic that such an obvious display of a Jewish presence is possible 80+ years later.
But the Berlin of today is clearly a very different place. In 1933, over 160 000 Jews resided in the city; by the end of the War, the number was a mere 7 000. Today, however, Berlin is an attractive destination for Jewish people, and it has seen an influx of Jewish residents from former Soviet Bloc states and, in recent months, from Ukraine. In addition, numerous young Israeli and American Jews now call Berlin home, and the Jewish population has risen to between 30 000 and 50 000.
With this growth in population, there was a need for a more organised community, and it is against this backdrop that the Pears Jewish Campus was opened towards the end of June this year — and the biggest mezuzah affixed to its door. The impressive new building, one of the largest Jewish centres in the world, was put up by the Chabad-Lubavitch community of Berlin at a cost of $44 million.
The Campus will no doubt play a significant role in Jewish life in the city in the years ahead, perhaps restoring in some way the vibrancy of Jewish life in Berlin during the interwar years.