General information: First Jewish presence: 1661; peak Jewish population: 142 in 1846; Jewish population in 1933: 54
Summary: This community conducted services in a prayer hall until 1845, when local Jews inaugurated a two-story synagogue with offices, a school, a teacher’s residence and a mikveh. The building was financed with the help of Hemsbach’s wealthiest congregant, Karl Meyer von Rothschild, whose family owned property in Hemsbach and had honorary seats in the synagogue. In 1895, damage caused by a fire necessitated the construction of a new roof. We also know that the community conducted burials at the nearby regional Jewish cemetery, consecrated in 1674, and maintained a school between 1836 and 1872. By 1933, several Hemsbach Jews owned important businesses, including a cigarette factory. A chevra kadisha and a women’s association were active there, and a teacher/ chazzan instructed seven schoolchildren in religion. On Pogrom Night, SA men set off an explosion that not only damaged the synagogue structure extensively, but also destroyed prayer books, ritual objects and furnishings. Jewish homes were heavily damaged during the pogrom. Thirty-three Hemsbach Jews emigrated, three relocated within Germany, one died in Hemsbach and 16 were deported to Gurs in October 1940. At least 15 local Jews perished during the Shoah. In 1987, the restored synagogue was opened to the public; it is now used for cultural purposes. The former mikveh houses a memorial.
Author / Sources: Esther Sarah Evans
Sources: AJ, EJL, PK-BW
Located in: baden-wuerttemberg