General information: First Jewish presence: 11th century; peak Jewish population: 170 in 1837; Jewish population in 1933: 31
Summary: Although Jews lived in Bechhofen in the 11th century, a community was not established there until 1564. The community’s first synagogue, destroyed during the Thirty Years’ War, was replaced in 1684 by a so-called “barn synagogue” (referred to as such because it looked like a barn from the outside). In 1732, Eliezer Sussmann, the renowned artist, painted the interior with exquisite murals. Bechhofen’s cemetery (the second largest in Bavaria) was used by Jewish communities throughout the region. We also know that the modern community maintained a mikveh. In 1933, the Jews of Bechhofen had in their employ a teacher who performed the duties of chazzan, shochet and undertaker. Two charitable societies (one for men, the other for women) were active in Bechhofen. No Jews lived in Bechhofen by October 1938, but that fact did not prevent rioters from burning down the synagogue on the morning before Pogrom Night. Ten Bechhofen Jews immigrated to the United States; others relocated in Germany. At least 25 Bechhofen Jews perished in the Shoah. A memorial stone was later unveiled at the synagogue site. In 2000, local schoolchildren built a model of the synagogue; and in 2008, the model was displayed at the town hall. A digital reconstruction of the synagogue was created in 2007.
Photo: The walls of the wooden synagogue of Bechhofen were decorated with paintings and inscriptions. Courtesy of: US Holocaust Memorial Museum, 25828.
Author / Sources: Hannah Porat; Sources: AJ, SG-B
Located in: bavaria