General information: First Jewish presence: early 17th century; peak Jewish population: 192 in 1910; Jewish population in 1933: 129
Summary: The Jewish community of Idar-Oberstein was officially founded in 1781. Records from 1780 mention a prayer room in Oberstein—it also served the Jews of Idar and Nahbollenbach—and we also know that this room was renovated as a synagogue and mikveh in 1819. Later, in 1876, a new synagogue was built at 4 Austrasse (renovated in 1926/27). The community maintained a Jewish elementary school in Oberstein from the 1830s until 1893, as well as, beginning (at the latest) in the 18th century, a cemetery on An der Seitzenbachstrasse, which was enlarged in 1820. In March, 1933, several members of a local Jewish family were severely beaten. On Pogrom Night, the synagogue’s interior was destroyed. The Torah shrine was set on fire, and although members of the fire brigade extinguished the blaze, they went on to smash the synagogue’s windows. Jewish homes were ransacked, and three Idar Jews were so badly beaten that they had to be hospitalized. The municipal authorities appropriated the synagogue building in 1940. Almost all Jews left Idar-Oberstein while the Nazis were in power. Seven Jews, however, died there, and the deportations in 1942 included seven local Jews who were sent to the East and another six who were sent to Theresienstadt. Two Jews who were married to Christians were deported to Theresienstadt in February 1945; a third committed suicide before the deportation. At least 42 Idar-Oberstein Jews perished in the Shoah. Converted into a factory after the war, the synagogue building was replaced by a new structure in 1972. A memorial was unveiled there in 1985.
Photo: The synagogue of Idar-Oberstein before 1938. Courtesy of: State Office for the Preservation of Historical Monuments of Rhineland- Palatinate.
Author / Sources: Heidemarie Wawrzyn
Sources: AJ, PK-NW, SG-RPS, SMZG, YV