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The Jewish Community of Bad Neustadt an der Saale

Bad Neustadt an der Saale

A town and the capital of the Rhön-Grabfeld district in Lower Franconia, Bavaria, Germany. 

Jews lived in Bad Neustadt already in the second part of the 13th century. During the Rindfleisch riots in 1298 (Rindfleisch, a German nobleman, headed riots against Jews in 149 Bavarian communities), and during the "Black Death" (1349) many Jews were massacred. Very few Jewish families continued to live in the town in the 16th and 18th centuries.

Until the 19th century the Jews of Bad Neustadt were subordinated to the Rabbinate of Gabfeld. The number of Jews began to grow in 1802, when the local authorities allowed nine Jewish families (comprising 40 persons) to live in the town. The Jews of Bad Neustadt obtained civil rights in 1831, after paying the town a large sum of money. In 1860 the community purchased a building, and used it as an elementary school and community center, as well as prayer house. In 1888 a local Jewish cemetery was inaugurated, and in 1892 a synagogue was built. The community had two Zdaka (charity) funds, which assisted Jewish wayfarers and the community's needy. At the beginning of the 20th century about 200 Jews lived in Bad Neustadt, comprising 10% of the local population.

In 1926 the regional authorities appointed Israel Wahler as head teacher of the local Jewish school. He occupied this position until the liquidation of the Jewish community in the spring of 1942. In 1933 the Jewish community of Bad Neustadt was subordinated to the Bad Kissingen regional Rabbinate.

Many of the Bad Neustadt Jews were engaged in the cattle trade. Some of them were artisans. Following the commercial boycott of April 1, 1933, the community was impoverished and the number of those who needed welfare assistance increased considerably.

In 1933 there were 160 Jews living in Bad Neustadt, comprising 5.6% of the total population.



The Holocaust Period

After the advent to power of the Nazis in March 1933, there was a wave of persecutions and maltreatment against the local Jews. In the spring of 1934 Jews were forbidden to enter the town's swimming pool. In March 1936 the Jewish cemetery was desecrated and the windows of the synagogue were smashed. The same year Jews were excluded from membership in the local sick fund. In April 1937 the synagogue was again desecrated and its windows broken.

The Jews of Bad Neustadt tried to lead a normal life; studies in the Jewish school continued, and so did social activities. The community carried out a "Winterhilfe" program, distributing food parcels, coal and clothing to the needy.

On September 26, 1938, the community leader was ordered to evacuate the synagogue, which the Germans transformed into a military grain warehouse.

During the Pogrom Night (November 9, 1938), the tombstones of the Jewish cemetery were overturned and 13 local Jews were arrested.

Between the years 1933-1941, 109 Jews left Bad Neustadt; six of them immigrated to Eretz Israel. In June 1941 the Jews of Bad Neustadt were banned from using the local laundries. Shopping time was limited to one hour per day, and Jewish women were forced to do agricultural labor in the villages and to clean the town's streets. On April 22, 1942, 45 Jews were transported to Wuerzburg and three days later deported to Izbica, near Lublin. In August and September of the same year, more Jews were sent to Wuerzburg and then deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto. Only one Jew, married to a gentile, remained in Bad Neustadt on November 1, 1942.

The synagogue and community center, partially damaged during the war, as well as the Jewish cemetery, are under the supervision of the town's authorites. 17 Torah scrolls, some of them from neighboring communities) as well as prayer books and silver ware, were found after the war in the cellar of the local Catholic church.

In the early 1970s there were no Jews in Bad Neustadt.

Place Type:
Town
ID Number:
192899
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
Nearby places:

Related items:
NEUSTADT, NEWSTADT, NEUSTAEDTER, NEUSTATTER

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birth place, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

The three Jewish family names in this group are based on Wejherowo in former west Prussia, whose German name, Neustadt, means "new town".

The German ending "-er" stands for "of/from". In the early 20th century Neustadt is recorded as a Jewish family name with five German soldiers who died in World War I. Neustadter is documented as a Jewish surname with three German soldiers who died in World War I.

Bavaria

In German: Bayern

A city in Bavaria, Germany

 

21ST CENTURY

Community institutinos in Wuerburg include a synagogue, which is located to Shalom Europa, a cultural and community center.

Brass cobblestones can be found throughout Wuerzburg in front of the former homes and workplaces of Jewish victims of the Nazi’s. These stones, part of the Stolpersteine project, has the name of the victim, their date of birth, and the circumstances of their death.

In 2005 Wuerzburg’s Jewish population was 1,045.

 

HISTORY

The Jewish community of Wuerzburg was founded around 1100. The Jews were not confined to a specific area, and tended to live in the center of the city.

During the Second Crusade (1147-1149) Wuerzburg’s Jewish community suffered from violence. The community was attacked in 1147, resulting in the murder of three rabbis, a sofer (scribe), as well as three other community members. The city’s bishop ordered the bodies of those killed to be buried in his garden; he later sold the site to the community, which converted it into a cemetery.

In spite of the violence and persecutions, Wuerzburg’s Jewish population grew. A school was established in 1170, and a synagogue was built in 1238. The community grew and developed particularly during the 13th century, aided by the increasing amount of Jewish immigrants from places such as Augsburg, Mainz, Nuremberg, and Rothenburg. Indeed, during the 12th and 13th century Wuerzburg became an influential and important center of Jewish learning. Scholars included Joel HaLevi (the son-in-law of Eliezer b. Nathan of Mainz), his son Eliezer, Isaac b. Moshe (known as the Or Zarua) who taught in the yeshiva, and his students Meir b. Baruch and Mordechai b. Hillel. Eliezer b. Moshe HaDarshan, Shmuel b. Menachem, and Yonatan b. Yitzchak.


This large and important community was destroyed during the Rindfleisch massacres of 1298. About 900 Jews living in the city lost their lives, including 100 who had fled from the surrounding area to seek refuge in Wuerzburg. Among those who were killed were Mordechai b. Hillel and his family.


The community was eventually renewed, this time mainly by Jews who arrived from Cologne, Strasbourg, Bingen, Ulm, Franconia, Thuringia, and Swabia. The Jews were under the protection of the bishop who governed them through a series of regulations that he was empowered to issue, though they paid taxes to both the bishop and the king. Though many of the Christian residents of Wuerzburg objected to the bishop’s protection of the Jews, they became more sympathetic after the Jews helped pay for the town’s fortifications.

Nonetheless, during the riots and anti-Jewish violence that broke out in Wuerzburg, and throughout Europe, in the wake of the Black Death epidemic (1348-1349), Wuerzburg’s Jews were accused of poisoning the city’s wells. In desperation, the Jews of Wuerzburg set fire to their own houses on April 21, 1349, and many of them were killed, including Moshe HaDarshan, the head of Wuerzburg’s yeshiva. The survivors fled, some to Erfurt, Frankfort, and Mainz, and the city’s bishop took possession of their property.


By 1377 Jews had begun to resettle in Wuerzburg, though the community was not reestablished until the beginning of the 15th century. The Jewish cemetery was returned to the new community, and a new synagogue was built in 1446. However, the Jews were expelled from the town in 1567; the cemetery was taken by Bishop Julius in 1576, who built a hospital on the site, and most of the Jews settled in nearby Heidingsfeld. While a few Jews lived in Wuerzburg during the following centuries, it was not until the 19th century that the Jewish community was renewed.

In 1813 there were 14 Jewish families living in Wuerzburg Rabbi Avraham Bing, the rabbi of the Bavarian state, transferred his rabbinate to Wuerzburg from Heidingsfeld, and established a yeshiva in the city. A synagogue was inaugurated in 1841; a smaller synagogue would be established later, in 1924. Among those who served as the community’s rabbi was Isaac Dov (Seligman Baer) Bamberger, who officiated from 1839 to 1878. He founded a successful teachers’ seminary in 1864, which trained educators who went on to teach in Jewish schools throughout Germany.

Wuerzburg became a spiritual center for numerous village communities within Franconia. These small communities would pray according to the customs of Wuerzburg, and addressed their questions regarding Jewish law to the rabbis there.

A number of organizations were established in Wuerzburg during the 19th and 20th centuries in order to help those in need. In 1884 a Jewish hospital was founded in the city. A daycare for poor Jewish children opened in 1908. As a result of World War I (1914-1918) a foundation for disabled Jewish war veterans was established in 1917, along with a foundation that collected funds for the poor and provided nursing care.

In spite of rising antisemitism during the interwar period, the Jews of Wuerzburg were politically active, and economically successful. A number of Jews were elected to the city council. Most worked in commerce, or in the free professions. Jewish students came to Wuerzburg from all over Germany in order to attend university, increasing the city’s Jewish population and Jewish civic engagement.

In 1921 Rabbi Dr. Sigmund (Shimon) Hanover, the newly-elected district rabbi for Wuerzburg, established an association to encourage an interest in agriculture among the Jews of Bavaria. A number of other social, cultural, and political organizations also became popular during this time. Ohavei Emet and Etz Chaim promoted Hebrew language-learning. Branches of the CV (Centralverein, Central Union of German Citizens of Jewish Belief), the Histadrut labor federation, the Reichsbund Juedischer Frontsoldaten, and various Zionist organizations were founded in the city during the 1920s and ‘30s. Wuerzburg also acted as the Bavarian headquarters of the Union of Ultraorthodox Communities and the Association for the Observance of the Sabbath. Approximately 100 Jewish butchers gathered in 1929 and 1932; in 1929 this gathering protested the Bavarian ban on kosher slaughter.

The Jewish population numbered 2,600 (2.84% of the total population) in 1925, and 2,145 (2.12%) in 1933.

Notable figures from Wuerzburg’s Jewish community include the Hebrew poet Yehuda Amichai, who was born in Wuerzburg in 1924 and lived there until he and his family immigrated to Mandate Palestine in 1935.

 

THE HOLOCAUST

With the rise of the Nazis to power (1933) many Jews left Germany; Wuerzburg’s Jewish population also declined during this period. Those who remained in Wuerzburg were subject to the anti-Jewish discriminatory laws and practices that were enacted throughout Germany, including economic boycotts and social restrictions.

During the Kristallnacht pogrom (November 9-10, 1938) the synagogue was destroyed. Jewish-owned shops were looted, the teacher’s seminary was damaged, and hundreds of men were imprisoned and tortured.

Between 1941 to 1945 the remaining 1,500 Jews of Wuerzburg were deported to concentration camps.

 

POSTWAR

52 Jews arrived in Wuerzburg after the war, 24 of whom were members of the original Jewish community, and reestablished Wuerzburg’s Jewish community.  

In 1970 a new synagogue was inaugurated. Other community institutions included a community center, and an old age home.  

In 1967 there were 150 Jews living in Wuerzburg. In 1989 the Jewish population was 179.

 

Roemhild 

Römhild

A town in the district of Hildburghausen in Thuringia, Germany.

A Jewish community was only established in Römhild in the 19th century. In the preceding centuries, small groups of Jews repeatedly lived in Römhild, but there was no continuous Jewish settlement in Römhild. The Jews of Römhild belonged to the Jewish community of Bibra. Never more than 30 Jews lived in Römhild. The community used a prayer room in the private house of the merchant Adolf Kahn, his house served the Nazis during the war as a so-called "Jewish house". All of Römhild's Jewish residents had to live here crowded together until they were deported to the Nazi concentration and death camps in 1942. The building, located at Heurichstrasse 8, has been preserved as a residential building today.

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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.