General information: First Jewish presence: 14th century; peak Jewish population: 148 in 1890; Jewish population in 1933: 113
Summary: The Jewish community of Heppenheim, founded in or about 1700, initially conducted services in a prayer hall, but records indicate that the town was home to a synagogue, at Kleine Bachgasse, by 1811. Local Jews established a mikveh in 1715, another in 1842 and a new synagogue, on Bensheimer Weg, in 1900. Burials took place in Alsbach. Jewish schoolchildren studied religion with a teacher who also served as chazzan and shochet. Between 1916 and 1938, the famous Jewish philosopher Martin Buber lived in Heppenheim. On Pogrom Night, the synagogue’s building and contents were set on fire. The walls survived the blaze, but Jewish men were forced to tear them down, after which the men were marched through town and arrested. Property in Jewish homes, including Buber’s 3,000-volume library, was looted or destroyed. Twenty-one Jews moved to Heppenheim after 1933, 76 emigrated, 27 relocated within Germany, 14 passed away in Heppenheim and one committed suicide. Sixteen Jews were deported in 1942; Heppenheim’s last Jew was deported to Auschwitz in 1943. At least 44 local Jews perished in the Shoah. Today, the synagogue site is a memorial. In 2008, a plaque was unveiled in front of a former Jewish-owned store. Martin Buber’s former home is now the headquarters of the International Council of Christians and Jews.
Author / Sources: Heidemarie Wawrzyn
Located in: hesse