General information: First Jewish presence: 1328; peak Jewish population: 135 in 1871; Jewish population in 1933: approximately 100
Summary: Jews from the surrounding villages of Willmenrod, Neunkirchen, Pottum, Weltersburg and Rennerod belonged to the Jewish community of Westerburg. Westerburg’s 18th-century Jewish community conducted services in a number of different prayer rooms. In 1824, a synagogue with 53 seats for men and 34 for women was inaugurated on Wilhelmstrasse (that synagogue was renovated in 1844). A new synagogue was built on the same site in 1910, and the Jewish community also maintained a school whose teacher performed the duties of chazzan and shochet. Westerburg had three Jewish cemeteries: a medieval cemetery, a cemetery established in 1860 and used until 1922/23 and, finally, a cemetery located next to the town’s general burial grounds. In 1933, nine Jewish children received religious instruction. Two Jewish associations (one for men, the other for women) were active in the community, with which the Jews of Gemuenden and Willmenrod were affiliated. On Pogrom Night, the interior of the synagogue was destroyed. Later, in early 1939, the community was forced to repair the building; in March 1939, the site was sold for a mere 175 Reichsmarks. Most local Jews emigrated from or relocated within Germany. In 1941 and 1942, Westerburg’s remaining Jews were deported. At least 36 Westerburg Jews and six from Willmenrod perished in the Shoah. The synagogue building was converted into a residence after the war.
Author / Sources: Yehoshua Ahrens
Sources: AJ, EJL, FGW