General information: First Jewish presence: 1691; peak Jewish population: 187 in 1861; Jewish population in 1933: 105
Summary: Beerfelden was home to a prayer room, located in a private house, in the late 18th century. The community requested permission to build a synagogue in 1797, but was turned down. In 1850, however, a synagogue was inaugurated at 2 Odenwaldstrasse. We also know that local Jews maintained a mikveh and a community center, the latter of which housed a schoolroom and an apartment for a teacher of religion who performed the duties of chazzan and shochet. Burials were conducted in Michelstadt until 1931, when a Jewish cemetery was consecrated in Beerfelden. (The community had, in fact, started using the new cemetery in 1928.) In 1933, several Jewish associations and branches of nationwide organizations were active in Beerfelden. Later, on Pogrom Night (November 1938), members of the SA blew up the synagogue building, destroying all its contents. The cemetery was desecrated that night, and Jewish men were sent to Dachau, where one committed suicide. Forty-seven local Jews emigrated (39 to the United States), 24 relocated within Germany and eight passed away in Beerfelden. In 1942, the remaining 12 Jews were deported: nine to Poland, three to Theresienstadt. At least 43 Beerfelden Jews perished in the Shoah. A memorial plaque was later affixed to a local Evangelical church. The cemetery was desecrated in 1994.
Photo: Children playing in the debris of the synagogue of Beerfelden after its destruction on Pogrom Night, 1938. Courtesy of: Town Archive of Beerfelden.
Author / Sources: Nurit Borut; Sources: AJ, EJL, PK-HNF
Located in: hesse