General information: First Jewish presence: 13th century; peak Jewish population: 364 in 1855; Jewish population in 1933: 197
Summary: The earliest available record of a Jewish presence in Alzey is from the 13th century. Although Jews were persecuted in and expelled from Alzey in the 14th century, a new and continuous Jewish presence was established there in 1650. In the 18th century the Jewish community maintained a cemetery, a synagogue and a school. A local rabbi was appointed in 1804, and in 1810 the community consecrated a new cemetery inside the municipal burial grounds; the Jewish section was enlarged in 1870 and in 1905. In 1831, the Jewish school was incorporated into a mixed confessional school. We also know that a new synagogue—it accommodated over 220 worshipers—was inaugurated in Alzey in 1854, and that the town was home to a regional rabbinate from 1856 until 1933. In the mid- 1930s, however, the community conducted services not in the synagogue, but in a prayer room (located in a private residence). The teacher’s seminary in Alzey had a Jewish department in which the Jewish teachers of Hesse were trained. In 1933, the community still maintained several Jewish associations and branches of nationwide Jewish organizations. A teacher/chazzan instructed 25 schoolchildren in religion, and a shamash (synagogue caretaker) performed the duties of shochet. On the morning before Pogrom Night, rioters destroyed the interiors of the prayer room and synagogue; furniture, ritualobjectsandTorahscrollswereburned.Jewishmenwere arrested, one of whom later died in Buchenwald. Sixty-five Alzey Jews emigrated, 60 relocated within Germany, 39 were deported in 1942 and two, the town’s last, were deported in 1943. At least 102 Alzey Jews perished in the Shoah. Several memorial plaques were later unveiled at the former synagogue site and in the restored Jewish cemetery.
Author / Sources: Maren Cohen; Sources: AJ, EJL, PK-HNF