General information: First Jewish presence: in or around the year 1300; peak Jewish population: 77 in 1910; Jewish population in 1933: 43
Summary: The Jewish community of Hennef merged with the communities in nearby Geistingen, Warth and Rott, as none of them possessed the finances required for the maintenance of a private synagogue. This cooperation continued from 1864 until 1887, after which the joint community was comprised of only Hennef and Geistingen. Together, those two communities built a synagogue in Hennef. The inauguration in 1862 was a festive one, with many rabbinic luminaries and local dignitaries in attendance. The mayor of Hennef, also present at the ceremony, offered his blessings. On the morning of November 9, 1938—before the violence of Pogrom Night began elsewhere in Germany— impatient SA members gathered at their headquarters and prepared to destroy the synagogue. They were stopped by the Sturmfuehrer, who demanded that they comply with the order that the destruction begin at the same time throughout the country: namely, later that night. Accordingly, the synagogue was ransacked and set on fire on Pogrom Night. Forewarned of the impending violence, members of the Jewish congregation were able to remove the Torah scrolls and silver ornaments before the pogrom. The building—it was later restored—now serves as a memorial.
Photo 2: The chazzan Isidor Rosenbaum carries the Torah at a prayer service in the synagogue of Geistingen. Courtesy of: City Archive of Hennef.
Author / Sources: Moshe Finkel
Sources: LJG, SIA, SG-NRW