General information: First Jewish presence: 17th century; peak Jewish population: 60 in 1880 (7.8% of the total population); Jewish population in 1933: unknown
Summary: Several Jewish families settled in Levern in the late 17th century. The Jewish population peaked at 60 in 1880, and most local Jews earned their living through the cattle and retail trades. In Levern, a Jewish community was formed in 1822 and officially recognized in 1898. Services were conducted in a private prayer room until April 1873, when the foundation stone for a synagogue was laid at 98 Judenstrasse, or “Jews’ street” (present-day 2 Miliostrasse/Huegelstrasse); the halftimbered building housed an apartment for a teacher. Other communal institutions included a Jewish school (1854- 1921) and a cemetery (1862-1936), the latter of which was consecrated on Highway 770. (Prior to 1862, burials had been conducted in Luebbecke and in Preussisch-Oldendorf.) In 1925, by which time many Jews had left Levern, only 11 Jews still lived there. Services at the synagogue were limited to the High Holidays, and the house of worship was sold in September 1938. Anti-Semitic violence erupted in Levern in 1933 and in 1935. Several weeks before Pogrom Night, in October 1938, a schoolchild set the former synagogue on fire, after which neighboring residents extinguished the blaze. Later, in 1939, a resident purchased the Jewish cemetery, removed 20 gravestones and reforested the site. At least five Levern Jews perished in the Shoah. In 1954, the Jewish cemetery was restored. Today, the former synagogue serves as an apartment building. At the Heimathaus Museum in Levern, one will find an old Torah scroll.
Author / Sources: Heidemarie Wawrzyn