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The Jewish Community of Thalfang

Thalfang

A spa town in the Bernkastel-Wittlich district in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.

First Jewish presence: unknown; peak Jewish population: 113 in 1843 (21% of the total population); Jewish population in 1933: 37

The Jews of Thalfang and its nearby villages belonged to the community of Trier until 1920, when Thalfang was recognized as an independent Jewish community. Local Jews consecrated a cemetery in 1800 and a synagogue—it housed a schoolroom and a teacher’s apartment—in 1822 (renovated in 1867). Thirty-seven Jews lived in Thalfang in 1933. The Jews of Talling, Dhronecken, Berglicht and Deuselbach were affiliated with the Thalfang community. In 1938, 22 Jews still lived in Thalfang. On Pogrom Night (Nov. 9, 1938), rioters smashed the synagogue’s windows, threw out the benches and ritual objects and, in a particularly crude show of contempt, hurled the curtains and candle holders onto a nearby manure heap. The Jews themselves were forced to take the sacred books to the marketplace and burn them there. Thalfang’s Jewish cemetery was also desecrated that night. Twelve Jews emigrated, 19 relocated within Germany and nine, Thalfang’s last, were deported to the Lodz ghetto in October 1942. At least 21 Thalfang Jews perished in the Shoah. Several gravestones removed during the Nazi period were returned to the cemetery in 1945. In 1950, the Jewish regional community sold the synagogue building to a neighbor, who had it torn down in 1956. A memorial stone has been unveiled at the cemetery.

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This entry was originally published on Beit Ashkenaz - Destroyed German Synagogues and Communities website and contributed to the Database of the Museum of the Jewish People courtesy of Beit Ashkenaz.

Place Type:
Town
ID Number:
152494
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
Nearby places:

Related items:
Rabbi

Born in Thalfang, near Trier, he studied in yeshivot and at various German universities. By 1840 he was rabbi in Dessau but in 1843 moved to Luxembourg where he was chief rabbi for 22 years. He was opposed to Zionism and among his reforms favored a Sunday Sabbath. In 1866 Hirsch succeeded the prestigious Reform leader David Einhorn at Keneseth Israel in Philadelphia. He was an outspoken participant at Reform rabbinical conferences. He was the author of The Religious Philosophy of the Jews in which he contrasted Judaism with Christianity, holding that both are 'absolute religions'.
Rabbi

Born in Thalfang, near Trier, he studied in yeshivot and at various German universities. By 1840 he was rabbi in Dessau but in 1843 moved to Luxembourg where he was chief rabbi for 22 years. He was opposed to Zionism and among his reforms favored a Sunday Sabbath. In 1866 Hirsch succeeded the prestigious Reform leader David Einhorn at Keneseth Israel in Philadelphia. He was an outspoken participant at Reform rabbinical conferences. He was the author of The Religious Philosophy of the Jews in which he contrasted Judaism with Christianity, holding that both are 'absolute religions'.

Soetern

Sötern 

A village in the Sankt Wendel district in Saarland, Germany.

First Jewish presence: early 17th century (possibly earlier); peak Jewish population: 233 in 1846; Jewish population in 1933: 90

Records are not clear about when Jews first arrived in Soetern, but we know for certain that it was before the Thirty Years’ War. An old synagogue and mikveh, consecrated in or around the year 1650, were the oldest in the region. Soetern’s modern Jewish community established a private Jewish school in 1830 and a synagogue (at 30 Hopstaedten) in 1840. After 1910, the year in which the school was officially recognized as a public school, the rabbi from Hopstaedten instructed Soetern’s Jewish children in religion. In 1933, windows were smashed in a Jewish-owned business; the owner was later arrested for “communist agitation,” after which he disappeared. On Pogrom Night (Nov. 9, 1938), Jews were forced to destroy the synagogue’s interior and its ritual objects. Businesses and homes were ransacked, Jews were assaulted, the cemetery was desecrated and several Jews were sent to Dachau. Twenty-seven Soetern Jews emigrated and 36 relocated within Germany. In April 1942, 24 Jews were deported to the East; and in July 1942, 10 Jews, Soetern’s last, were deported to Theresienstadt Nazi concentration camp. Only one Jew (he/she was married to a Christian) remained in Soetern after the deportations. At least 60-65 local Jews perished in the Shoah. The synagogue was remodeled as a combined residential and commercial building after the war. Soetern’s Jewish cemetery was renovated in 1946 and desecrated in 2008.

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This entry was originally published on Beit Ashkenaz - Destroyed German Synagogues and Communities website and contributed to the Database of the Museum of the Jewish People courtesy of Beit Ashkenaz.