General information: First Jewish presence: 14th century (perhaps earlier); peak Jewish population: 344 in 1901; Jewish population in 1933: 225
Summary: Mayen’s 14th-century Jewish community—records from 1313 mention a synagogue—was annihilated during the Black Death pogroms of 1349. Another Jewish presence was established there during the ensuing decades, but in the late 16th century, at which point a considerable number of Jews must have lived in the town, the community was expelled. Jews returned to Mayen in the 18th century and founded a regional community in 1849. Services were conducted in prayer rooms, the last of which was located on Keutelstrasse, until 1855, when the community inaugurated a synagogue on Im Entenpfuhl; in 1902, the women’s gallery was enlarged. The community also maintained a Jewish elementary school, (founded in 1860, the school became a public institution in 1878) whose teacher performed the duties of chazzan; a second chazzan served as the community’s shochet. Mayen’s Jewish cemetery was consecrated in the 17th century—its oldest surviving gravestone is dated 1640—and was desecrated in 1890. In 1933, 225 Jews lived in Mayen. Thirty-four children attended the Jewish school, and several Jewish associations and branches of nation-wide Jewish organizations were active in the community. On Pogrom Night, SA men broke into the synagogue and destroyed its interior, after which they proceeded to burn down the building; Jewish-owned stores and businesses were vandalized. The synagogue’s ruins were cleared shortly after the pogrom. The Jewish school closed down in 1939. In 1941/42, 76 local Jews were deported to the East and to Theresienstadt. At least 114 Jewish residents of Mayen perished in the Shoah. A commemorative plaque was unveiled at the former synagogue site in April 1981.
Author / Sources: Esther Sarah Evans
Sources: AJ, EGL, FJW, SG-RPS