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The Jewish Community of BACHARACH


A town in the Rhine Valley, Germany.

Jews were living in Bacharach in the first part of the 12th century and were engaged in moneylending. While the troops were assembling there in preparation for the second crusade, several families left the town and took refuge in the nearby castle of Stahleck. Three householders who went on royal orders to collect their debts were martyred by the crusaders on the eve of Pentecost, 1147. In 1283, 26 Jews were massacred as the result of a blood libel. Heinrich Heine's incomplete epic, der rabbi von Bacherach, was based on a massacre in 1287 following a blood libel in Oberwesel.

The Jews in Bacharach were attacked by the Armleder in 1338- 1339, and others lost their lives in the Black Death persecutions, 1348-1349. A document dated 1510 shows that the Jewish community had by then been reestablished. There were 34 Jews living in the town in 1924 and 200 in the area in 1932. The five Jews who remained in Bacharach were deported by July 26, 1942 by the Nazis. A number of noted Jewish families derived their name from Bacharach.
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Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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Related items:
Tombstone on the grave of Rabbi Samuel Bacharach
Alsbach, Germany, c. 1960
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
Dr. Paul Arnsberg Collection)


A town on the Middle Rhine in the Rhein-Hunsrück district in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.

First Jewish presence: 1241; peak Jewish population: 53 in 1890; Jewish population in 1933: 44

Jews were massacred in Oberwesel during the Black Death pogroms of 1349. Although individual Jews settled in Oberwesel during the ensuing centuries (records from 1452 mention a synagogue), it was only in the 18th century that an actual community began to emerge there. Oberwesel’s Jewish cemetery was consecrated in the early 19th century, if not before. By 1836, the community had inaugurated a synagogue. Records from 1853 refer to a new synagogue, and we also know that in 1886, one year after the second synagogue burned down, the community built a new house of worship on Schaarplatz; the building housed a mikveh and a school for religious studies, the latter of which was presided over by a teacher who also served as shochet and chazzan. In 1933, 44 Jews lived in Oberwesel; five children received religious instruction. A women’s association and a chevra kadisha were active in the community that year. On Pogrom Night (nov. 9, 1938), the synagogue’s interior was destroyed, prayer books and Torah scrolls were thrown into a stream and windows in Jewish-owned homes were smashed. Later, in 1940, the municipality appropriated the synagogue building. Oberwesel’s last Jews were deported to the East in 1942. At least 18 local Jews perished in the Shoah. The synagogue, renovated in 1957, accommodated a police headquarters and, later, a residence. Since 2007, the building has served as the headquarters of the Rabbi Hillel organization, which promotes Jewish-Christian dialogue; in honor of Oberwesel’s destroyed Jewish community, that organization has unveiled a memorial.


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.