General information: First Jewish presence: 1673; peak Jewish population: 165 in 1848; Jewish population in 1933: 27
Summary: During the years 1819 to 1899, this community’s prayer room was located in the house of a local Jewish family, the same house in which a Jewish school operated from 1830 until 1845. The prayer room was moved to a new location (a building at 18 Neugasse) in 1899, just two years before the community dedicated a synagogue on Synagogengasse, or “synagogue street” (present-day Gymnasiumstrasse). Winnweiler’s Jewish cemetery, consecrated in the early 18th century, is one of the largest (with 346 intact gravestones) in the Palatinate region. We also know that the Winnweiler community was able to employ a teacher of religion, who performed the duties of chazzan and shochet. In 1933, seven Jewish schoolchildren studied religion with a teacher from Rockenhausen. A welfare society and a women’s association were active in the community, with which the five Jews of Lohnsfeld were affiliated. On Pogrom Night, the synagogue was burned to the ground. The ruins were blown up shortly afterwards, and the site was sold to the local council in December 1939. The remaining Jews received virtually nothing from the sale, as the council deducted money spent on demolition and manpower. Winnweiler’s remaining eight Jews were deported to Gurs, France, on October 22, 1940. At least 16 local Jews perished in the Shoah. In 1984, a memorial stone was unveiled at the former synagogue site. The Jewish cemetery has been renovated.
Author / Sources: Esther Sarah Evans
Sources: AJ, EJL, FGW