General information: First Jewish presence: 17th century; peak Jewish population: 74 in 1872; Jewish population in 1933: 19
Summary: By 1766, the Jews of Oerlinghausen had established a community and hired a teacher of religion. Oerlinghausen’s Jewish cemetery (located in Barkhauser Berg) had been consecrated in the 17th century. The community’s prayer hall, which was located in a private residence, was established in, at the latest, 1769. Local Jews received permission to build a synagogue in 1800, the construction of which was completed in 1803 (renovated in 1832). In 1893, the community inaugurated a new synagogue on Toensbergerstrasse. Oerlinghausen’s Jewish school—it was located in a private residence—became an elementary school in the early 19th century and, in 1892, a school for religious studies. During the early decades of the 20th century, children studied religion with teachers from neighboring communities, as the Jews of Oerlinghausen were no longer able to employ their own teacher. By the late 1920s, the community could no longer gather enough men for a minyan. The remaining Jews traveled to Bielefeld for synagogue services, using their own synagogue for funerals. A local Jew was severely beaten in public in 1935. In July 1938, the synagogue was sold to a local resident. The former house of worship was attacked on Pogrom Night, but a local Nazi leader prevented its destruction, citing the fact that the building was no longer owned by Jews. A Jewish-owned business was destroyed on Pogrom Night, and two local Jewish men were arrested. A Jewish child was born in Oerlinghausen in 1940. Ten local Jews emigrated (six of them went to South America), six relocated within Germany and two passed away in Oerlinghausen. In December 1941, a Jewish couple (the town’s only remaining Jews) was deported, via Bielefeld, to Riga. At least eight Oerlinghausen Jews perished in the Shoah. Remodeled as an art gallery in 1979 and 1985, the synagogue building now bears a memorial plaque.
Author / Sources: Nurit Borut
Sources: DGOS, LAV, PK-NW