General information: First Jewish presence: 1658; peak Jewish population: 195 in 1900; Jewish population in 1933: 50
Summary: During the 18th century, the emerging Jewish community of Bibra (made up chiefly of small merchants, shopkeepers and craftsmen) was restricted to a building known as the Judenbau, which also housed a prayer hall and a schoolroom. Although the restrictions were severe—Jews, for example, were prohibited from sharing drinking water with Gentiles—the community grew until it constituted 25% of the general population. The synagogue, which housed a mikveh and schoolrooms, was built in 1845; an elementary school, established in 1835, functioned for the next 40 years. Aaron Hoexter, who served as teacher, chazzan, shochet and head of the veteran’s association, was awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class in World War I; he was deported and killed in 1942. The anti-Jewish boycott of 1933 forced many local Jews to consider emigration, for which they were prepared by a Zionist Hachshara agricultural training farm. The synagogue was eventually confiscated by the municipality and converted into a residential property. Thirty-one Jews were deported in 1942; the fate of another 32 is unknown. After the war, one of the town squares was named Oskar Meyer Platz in honor of a former prominent Jewish citizen.
Author / Sources: Harold Slutzkin
Sources: AJ, LJG
Located in: thuringia