General information: First Jewish presence: 16th century; peak Jewish population: 180 in 1861; Jewish population in 1933: 105
Summary: In Felsberg, a Jewish community began to develop in the 18th century. In 1885, when 179 Jews lived in the town (20% of the total population), most Felsberg Jews were cattle traders, butchers, shoemakers and merchants. In or around 1820, a mikveh was built on Untergasse (pulled down after World War I). Services were conducted in a prayer room until 1847, when the community established a synagogue, with 100 seats for men and 80 for women, on Rittergasse. Felsberg was home to a Jewish school (located in a historical building on Obergasse) between 1826 and 1931; as was the case in many other German communities, the teacher served as shochet and chazzan. We also know that the community consecrated a cemetery on Annastrasse in the 1860s, before which burials had been conducted in Obervorschuetz. The Rittergasse synagogue was renovated in 1903. Local Jews also maintained a charitable organization, a women’s association and a youth movement. In 1933, 105 Jews still lived in Felsberg, many of whom left—most managed to emigrate from Germany—in the wake of increasing oppression. In Felsberg, Pogrom Night started on November 8, 1938. One Jew, already ill, died as a result of the abuse suffered that night. Although the synagogue was desecrated, the building remained intact; it was converted into a sports hall after the war and, later, became an inn. Memorial plaques have been unveiled at the former schoolhouse and opposite the former synagogue site. Felsberg’s Jewish cemetery houses a memorial stone. At least 46 Felsberg Jews perished in the Shoah.
Photo: At the bottom, the synagogue of Felsberg, probably in the 1930s. Courtesy of: Town Archive of Felsberg.
Author / Sources: Heike Zaun Goshen
Sources: AH, AJ, EJL
Located in: hesse