General information: First Jewish population: 1744; peak Jewish population: 63 in 1871 (10.6% of the total population); Jewish population in 1933: 40-45
Summary: Richelsdorf is now part of Wildeck, in the district of Hersfeld- Rotenburg, Fulda. Records indicate that Richelsdorf ’s synagogue on In der Steinkaute (between the Gebhardt and Burghardt family homes) was established in 1880 or 1881; the mikveh was located in the basement. Burials were conducted in Sontra until 1880, soon after which, in 1881, the Jews of Richelsdorf consecrated their own cemetery (it was ravaged in 1927). The community, which likely belonged to the rabbinate of Lower Hesse, headquartered in the city Kassel, never established a Jewish school. The last leader of the community was Josef Loewenstein; his father, Ruben (who died in 1926), had led the community for more than 25 years. On Pogrom Night, rioters ravaged the synagogue and threw the Torah scrolls onto the street. The Jewish community was dissolved in 1938, after which the 19 remaining Jews either emigrated or relocated within Germany. The last to leave was Max Eichhorn, who perished in Dachau at the age of 57. Two Richelsdorf Jews were deported in 1942. According to Yad Vashem, five Richelsdorf Jews perished in the Shoah, but other records suggest that the number was higher. Max Falkenstein, of Richelsdorf, left Germany on the MSS St. Louis, which was denied entry in Havana and forced to return to Europe; Falkenstein, however, survived the war. The synagogue was torn down in 1950 (or possibly in the 1960s); a considerable number of ritual objects were discovered there. At the cemetery, 35 gravestones are still intact.
Author / Sources: Esther Sarah Evans
Sources: AJ, EJL, PK-HNF, YV
Located in: hesse