Rothenburg ob der Tauber

General information: First Jewish presence: 1119; peak Jewish population: 115 in 1900; Jewish population in 1933: 45
Summary: Rothenburg’s 12th-century Jewish community maintained a synagogue, a school and a mikveh. A large yeshiva was established in Rothenburg in the 13th century, and we also know that Rabbi Meir ben Baruch (the maharam of Rothenburg and a prominent leader of German Jewry) resided there from 1250 until 1286. Local Jews were killed during the Rindfleisch massacres of 1298; later, during the Black Death pogroms of 1348/49, the community was annihilated, after which the synagogue was converted into a church. Jews returned to Rothenburg in the mid-14th century, establishing a Judengasse (“Jews’ alley”), a cemetery, a synagogue (1407) and a mikveh. This community was expelled in 1397, as was another in 1519/20. It was not until 1870 that another Jewish presence was established in Rothenburg. The modern community opened a prayer hall in 1875 and a synagogue in 1888, the latter of which included an apartment for a teacher and a schoolroom; Moses Hofmann, the community’s first teacher, held that post from 1875 until 1926. Other communal institutions included a cemetery (consecrated in 1890) and a mikveh. In 1933, seven Jewish schoolchildren received religious instruction. Three Jewish associations were active in the Rothenburg community that year. From 1933 until 1938, two local Jews emigrated, three passed away in Rothenburg and 23 relocated to other towns in Germany. On October 22, 1938, the remaining 17 Jews were dragged from their homes and expelled from the town, shortly after which the synagogue’s interior was destroyed. At least 26 Rothenburg Jews perished in the Shoah. The synagogue building was eventually converted into a residence; the cemetery, which had been destroyed during the Nazi period, was later restored. A memorial plaque (unveiled in 2002) and a museum commemorate Rothenburg’s modern and medieval Jewish communities, respectively.
Author / Sources: Esther Sarah Evans
Sources: AJ, PK-BAV
Located in: bavaria