General information: First Jewish presence: 18th century; peak Jewish population: 98 in 1871 (25% of the total population); Jewish population in 1933: 45
Summary: The Jewish community of Wawern held religious services in a prayer room until 1844, when a synagogue was inaugurated on 14 Saarburger Strasse (formerly 81 Hauptstrasse); the synagogue was renovated in 1920. Wawern’s Jewish elementary school, established in 1858, was presided over by a teacher who also performed the duties of chazzan and shochet. We do not know when the school closed down (a reasonable estimate is the late 1920s), but records do tell us that by 1930 a “wandering” teacher from Freudenburg—he also served the Jewish communities of Kirf and Freudenburg—instructed Wawern’s Jewish children in religion. Local Jews were able to maintain a mikveh, but buried their dead in Saarburg- Niederleuken. In 1933, at which point 45 Jews lived in Wawern, 10 school-age children received religious instruction. Two Polish Jews were expelled from Wawern in 1938. On Pogrom Night, rioters set the synagogue’s interior and six Torah scrolls on fire. Eighteen local Jews left for other places in Germany, and by 1940 no Jews lived in Wawern. At least 17 Jewish residents of Wawern perished in the Shoah. In 1992, the municipality acquired the synagogue building—it had changed ownership several times after the war—and renovated the site thoroughly. Today, the building is used to host cultural events.
Author / Sources: Esther Sarah Evans
Sources: AJ, EJL, FGW