General information: First Jewish presence: 1630; peak Jewish population: 76 in 1816; Jewish population in 1933: unknown (10 in 1936)
Summary: Jews were massacred in Rheinberg during the Black Death pogroms of 1348/49, and it was not until 1750 that a fully functioning Jewish community began to develop there. Earlier, at some point during the 16th century, the Jews of Rheinberg and nearby Orsoy had consecrated a cemetery. We also know that in 1764, local Jews built a prayer hall despite the opposition of the local clergy; the last High Holiday service was conducted there in 1936. The community inaugurated a new synagogue (in Orsoy) in 1867, but the population decline of the 1880s—when many congregants left Rheinberg in search of better economic opportunities—meant that both houses of worship were used only intermittently. According to records, the Jewish communities of Rheinberg and Orsoy were affiliated with that of Alpen in the late 19th century. The anti-Jewish boycott of 1933 met some resistance, as a result of which Adolf Rothschild, a prominent merchant, was taken into “protective custody.” Later, on Pogrom Night (November 1938), both synagogues were broken into and wrecked. The few remaining Jews were deported in 1941/42, but information about their fate is not available. The former synagogue sites in Rheinberg and Orsoy now accommodate residential and commercial buildings, each bearing a memorial plaque.
Author / Sources: Harold Slutzkin
Sources: LIG, SIA