General information: First Jewish presence: 1578; peak Jewish population: 131 in 1864; Jewish population in 1933: 72
Summary: Although evidence indicates that Jews lived in Brilon as early as 1578, it was not until the mid-1600s that an official Jewish community developed there. In 1712, the community designated a prayer room; later, in 1741, it was inaugurated as a synagogue. Yosef Avraham Freidland, who in 1832 was appointed state rabbi of Westphalia, set up his official headquarters in Brilon. On May 10, 1931—construction commenced in 1929—the community inaugurated a new synagogue on Hubertusstrasse. The synagogue was vandalized on several occasions before Pogrom Night, in response to which the community replaced the windows with reinforced glass. On Pogrom Night, rioters smashed the synagogue’s windows, ransacked the main sanctuary and set the building on fire; the building burned to the ground. Those Jews who still lived in Brilon in 1939 either emigrated from or relocated within Germany. In 1942, the remaining local Jews were deported. Cleared in 1939, the synagogue site is now an open area. A memorial plaque was unveiled there in 1983.
Author / Sources: Moshe Finkel
Sources: EJL, SG-NRW, SIA