General information: First Jewish presence: 1571; peak Jewish population: 260 or 236 in 1871 (sources of information differ); Jewish population in 1933: 73
Summary: Jews lived in Pfungstadt as early as 1571, but the origins of a functioning Jewish community can be traced back only to the 18th century. In 1819/20, the community, which belonged to the Orthodox rabbinate of Darmstadt II, built a synagogue, a Jewish school (the renowned Israelitisches Lehr- und Erziehungsinstitut) and a mikveh at 8 Hillgasse. Later, in 1922, the renovated synagogue building was re-inaugurated in the presence of Rabbi Dr. Max of Darmstadt. We also know that a memorial plaque honoring local Jews who had fallen in World War I was unveiled at the synagogue. Other communal institutions included a cemetery on Alsbacher Bergstrasse and, from 1857 to 1907, the renowned Joel’sche Institut, a Jewish school whose most famous teacher was Chaim Weizmann, later to become the first president of the State of Israel. Many Jews left Pfungstadt for larger cities from the early 20th century onwards, so that the town’s Jewish population dropped from 174 in 1900 to 77 in 1925. In 1933, 73 Jews lived in Pfungstadt, 20 of whom left that year as a result of the anti-Jewish boycott. Between 1933 and 1939, 49 Jews left Pfungstadt. The synagogue was destroyed on Pogrom Night, and Jewish-owned property was vandalized. In 1942, the town’s remaining 18 Jews were deported. According to Yad Vashem, 59 local Jews were murdered in the Shoah. Pfungstadt is no longer home to a Jewish community. The remnants of the mikveh were rediscovered in 1993. In 1970, a memorial plaque was unveiled at the former synagogue site and, in 2001, the building was converted into an educational and memorial center.
Author / Sources: Benjamin Rosendahl
Sources: AJ, EJL, LJG, SG-H, YV
Located in: hesse