General information: First Jewish presence: unknown; peak Jewish presence: 70 in 1848; Jewish population in 1933: unknown
Summary: The Jewish community of Wattenheim, which began developing in the early 19th century, later formed a joint community with the Jews of neighboring Hettenleidelheim, Neuleiningen and Hertlingshausen. Records tell us that communal affairs were run out of Wattenheim in 1896, and that the Jews of nearby Eisenberg joined the community in 1920. By 1812, Wattenheim Jews had established a prayer hall in a private residence. When, in 1849, a synagogue was built on Hauptstrasse, that private residence became a Jewish school. (The house was sold and demolished in 1869.) Records suggest that the Jews of Wattenheim maintained a mikveh, and we know for certain that burials were conducted in the Hettenleidelheim cemetery on Schlossgasse (the cemetery was first documented in the 17th century) until 1865, when a cemetery was consecrated on Tiefenthaler Strasse in Wattenheim. In 1930, Wattenheim’s remaining Jews—the community had dwindled considerably during and after World War I— controversially donated the defunct synagogue to a local Catholic church. The Catholic congregation established a kindergarten there, but this fact (not to mention the fact that the property was no longer owned by Jews) did not prevent rioters from vandalizing the building on Pogrom Night, shortly after which the church sold the building to a local couple who, in 1939, pulled it down and planted a garden on the site. At least three Jews from Wattenheim died in the Shoah.
Author / Sources: Heike Zaun Goshen
Sources: AJ, EJL, FJG