January 11, 2010

Albert Einstein Restaurant in Munich Returns to Community Management

Munich, Germany…The Albert Einstein kosher restaurant is part of the $105 million Jewish Center and Central Synagogue built just 5 years ago. The complex, located in downtown Munich includes a synagogue that is built like a tefilin box (phylacteries). Its rabbi, Steven Langnas, comes from a German Jewish family but was born and raised in Philadelphia. The modern architecture, high tech state-of-the-art amenities as well as advanced security makes this Jewish community center one of the most expensive and beautiful Jewish community centers anywhere in the world. With 10,000 Jews in the city (many converts and Russian immigrants), Jewish life is not very visible. The city, which was leveled by carpet bombing of the US Air Force was completely rebuilt, save for its original central synagogue destroyed in 1938, which was not fully restored until now, albeit in a different location. The restaurant faces the magnificent synagogue and after a few attempts at private ownership is now being run by the community. An Orthodox Jew on a tour of the restaurant found it rather strange that the restaurant is named Albert Einstein, who attended Catholic school and certainly did not eat kosher. He managed to give his own explanation: “Perhaps it’s just a marketing tool to get both the secular Jews and non-Jews to eat there.” Rabbi Langnas also certifies the bread in a bakery just down the street, and then there is Café Schmock. And as is common in almost every major city, the visitor can always find Chabad, which is the only synagogue in town with a guaranteed daily minyan. Oddly, the Jewish Community Center is just a short walk from the pub and social club where the Nazi braintrust planned its systematic annihilation of the Jews.