General information: First Jewish presence: 14th century; peak Jewish population: 74 in 1850; Jewish population in 1933: unknown
Summary: Jews were first mentioned in Zell during the Black Death pogroms of 1348/49, after which records are silent about a Jewish presence there until the 18th century. Other available Jewish population figures for Zell are 37 in 1822, 33 in 1925 and 70 in 1930. By 1942, all Jews had left Zell. In 1850, the community established a small prayer hall in a section of an old, local castle. Later, as more Jews settled in Zell, the community decided to build a new synagogue; construction was halted with the outbreak of World War I, and the partially completed structure was auctioned off; the money used to renovate the original synagogue. The Jews of Zell also maintained a cemetery, a ritual bath and a school for religious studies, whose teacher served as the chazzan and shochet. The interior of the synagogue was destroyed on Pogrom Night (November 1938), but its exterior was not torched for fear of damaging the castle. The Jewish community was dissolved in 1939. Those who did not manage to escape Germany perished in the Shoah. Restoration of the synagogue building was completed in 2003; the site now serves as a memorial.
Author / Sources: Fred Gottlieb
Sources: EJL, LJG, SG-RPS