General information: First Jewish presence: unknown; peak Jewish population: 147 in 1871 (6.4% of total population); Jewish population in 1933: 47
Summary: The Jewish community of Ruesselsheim, established in the 17th or 18th century, was home to 22 Jews in 1713, after which membership grew steadily (105 in 1817). During the 19th century, the following Jewish communities belonged to Ruesselsheim: Bauschheim, Bischofsheim (until 1826), Koenigstaedten (until approximately 1830), Ginsheim (until 1826) and Raunheim. It was only Raunheim, however, that remained affiliated with Ruesselsheim in the 20th century. Records from 1822 mention a synagogue. The Ruesselsheim Jewish community built a new house of worship on Mainzer Strasse in 1844/45 (renovated in 1895 and again in 1928/29); the building accommodated a schoolroom and a mikveh, the latter of which was renovated in 1901. Burials were conducted in Gross- Gerau until 1923, when a Jewish cemetery was consecrated inside the town’s general burial grounds. In 1933, the community ran a Jewish war veterans’ association. Later, on Pogrom Night, November 1938, SA men destroyed the synagogue’s door and interior, burned Torah scrolls and ritual items on the banks of the Main River and vandalized the teacher’s apartment. The synagogue passed into private ownership after the pogrom. During the years 1933 to 1939, many local Jews emigrated from or relocated within Germany. Ruesselsheim’s remaining Jews were eventually forced into a so-called “Jews’ house” on Schaefergasse. Several committed suicide, and six were deported in 1942. At least 42 Ruesselsheim Jews perished in the Shoah. In 1945, only one Jew, a woman, still lived in Ruesselsheim. Ownership of the synagogue changed several times before 2005, when a housing association purchased the building, renovated it (2006) and established the Alte Synagoge Foundation (“Old Synagogue Foundation”) in 2008. Today, the foundation and a local branch of UNICEF share the building, to which a memorial plaque has been affixed.
Photo: The synagogue of Ruesselsheim, probably in the 1930s. Courtesy of: Town Archive of Ruesselsheim.
Author / Sources: Heidemarie Wawrzyn
Sources: AJ, DJGH, EJL, SIA, SIH < Found. “Alte Synagoge”
Located in: hesse