Odenbach am Glan

General information: First Jewish presence: 1627; peak Jewish population: 139 in 1854 (10 % of the total population); Jewish population in 1933: 27
Summary: The earliest record of a Jewish presence in Odenbach am Glan refers to a Jewish family living there in 1627. Local Jews probably congregated in a prayer room during the 17th century, and we know for certain that a synagogue was built between Kuemmelstrasse and Kirchhofstrasse in 1752. Renovations were carried out there in 1835, during which a women’s balcony with 30 seats was added (the main sanctuary seated 50 men); the synagogue was renovated again in the early 20th century, this time to include elaborate wall paintings, for which the house of worship would later become famous. At the cemetery (consecrated in 1845), the last burial took place in 1938. In 1932/33, 27 Jews lived in Odenbach. The Jews of Lauterecken were affiliated with the community. Later, on Pogrom Night, SA men wrecked the synagogue’s interior, allowing local children to steal and burn five Torah scrolls; they did not, however, burn down the synagogue, as the building was located next to several other structures. The Jewish community was forced to sell the synagogue in October 1939. Odenbach’s last two Jews were deported to Gurs on October 22, 1940. Two Jewish men, both of whom were married to Christians, survived the war in Odenbach. Yad Vashem has the names of at least seven Odenbach Jews who perished in the Shoah. The former synagogue was awarded protected monument status in the 1980s. In 1985, wall paintings and a geniza (a storeroom for holy books) containing a Torah curtain and other ritual objects were discovered there. Purchased in 1989 by the Society for the Preservation of the Odenbach synagogue, which renovated the building thoroughly, the former synagogue was opened as a memorial in 1996.
Author / Sources: Bronagh Bowerman
Sources: AJ, EJL, FGW, SIA, SG-RHN, YV