Religion & Jewish Life

Berlin and Omaha’s incredible new synagogue-mosque-church

From left, Pastor Gregor Hohberg, Rabbi Tovia Ben-Chorin and Imam Kadir Sanci. (Courtesy of the House of One)
 A priest, a rabbi, and an imam walk into a bar…

Actually, this isn’t a joke or a bar. It’s an extraordinary new building called the House of One, which will combine a mosque, a synagogue and a church in Petriplatz, also known as “the medieval birthplace of Berlin.”

Yes, Berlin – as Rabbi Tovia Ben-Chorin says in House of One’s promotional video, “For me as a Jew, this city is ‘The City of Wounds’ and ‘The City of Miracles.’”

The House of One will welcome people of multiple faiths and hopefully mark a new era in religious tolerance. The religious leaders spearheading the project along with Ben-Chorin are Pastor Gregor Hohberg and Imam Kadir Sanci. The design team, which was picked through a competition, is from the Kuehn Malvezzi architectural firm, and it has released some images of the proposed structure. There will be one door for everyone to walk through. From there, each worshipper may climb the stairs and choose one of three prayer spaces to enter.

Even the construction phase is about collaboration. Everyone is encouraged to donate a brick for 10 euros  a pop — that’s nearly $11. The founders encourage everyone to get involved, and even invite people to send in suggestions for their calendar of events, which will include prayer, festivals, art and debate.

Americans, relax: You’ll get one, too. NPR just reported that one is coming to Omaha, Neb. — on the site of an old Jewish country club!

(Abby Sher is a writer and performer living in Brooklyn.)