General information: First Jewish presence: 1301; peak Jewish population: 135 in 1895; Jewish population in 1933: 83
Summary: Bad Sobernheim (Rhineland-Palatinate) – First Jewish presence: 1301; peak Jewish population: 135 in 1895; Jewish population in 1933: 83 The Jewish community of Bad Sobernheim, which emerged in the 17th century, belonged to the regional community of Bad Kreuznach until 1926, when Sobernheim was recognized as an independent community with which the Jews from nearby Meddersheim were affiliated. Jews conducted services in private residences until the establishment, in 1858, of a synagogue on 9 Gymnasialstrasse (renovated in 1904 and 1929). Bad Sobernheim’s Jewish elementary school, founded in 1840, later became a school for religious studies whose teacher performed the duties of chazzan and shochet. We also know that the community maintained a mikveh and a cemetery, the latter of which was established in the early 19th century and enlarged in 1856. In 1933, a chevra kadisha and a youth association were still active in the community. Later, on Pogrom Night (November 1938), rioters damaged the synagogue, burned prayer books, vandalized Jewish homes and desecrated the cemetery. The synagogue was sold to the municipality in 1939, after which the German army used the building as a storage site. Approximately 150 Jews lived in Sobernheim during the Nazi period (including Jews who moved there after 1933). In all, 76 Sobernheim Jews emigrated, 23 relocated within Germany and 12, the town’s last, were deported to the East in 1942. At least 40 local Jews perished in the Shoah. The cemetery houses a memorial (erected there in 1950) and a plaque (2005). The synagogue was sold yet again in 1953, after which the new owner, too, used the building as a storage site. In 2001, however, the municipality bought the building for use as a cultural site; a project launched in 2008 aims to restore the building and reopen it as a memorial and cultural center.
Author / Sources: Esther Sarah Evans; Sources: AJ, EJL; www.obermayer.us/award/news/Portsmouth012703.htm
Located in: rhineland-palatinate