Encyclopaedia of Jewish Communities:
Germany volume 3

49°25' / 09°12'

Translation from Pinkas ha-kehilot Germanyah

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem, 1992



Project Coordinator and Translator

Selwyn Rose


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to put this material on the JewishGen web site.

This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopaedia of Jewish Communities, Germany
Volume 3, page 272, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 1992

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[Page 272]

Neckarsteinach, Germany

YearNumber of
of Jews
1803 9 families 

Religious Affiliations of the Population as a Percentage in 1933


From the Records of the Community

Jews, as residents of Neckarsteinach, are mentioned for the first time in 1429, in an agreement signed by two rulers of the area, concerning the division between them of the incomes expected to be derived from the Jews; there was apparently also a ritual bath.

At the beginning of the 18th. Century there was a congregation, in whose service there was a prayer-hall and a ritual bath. In 1763 the Jews of Neckartsteinach put forward a request to have the Rabbi of Heidelberg recognized as their Rabbi. Apparently the Jews were living fairly comfortably. Jonah Hirsch was the source of most of the supplies which were levied on the town at the time of the war of 1779. Among the many taxes exacted on the Jews was a poll-tax, which was paid at the gates of the town by every Jew entering or leaving - more than 400 people each year; it seems that most of these were itinerant beggars. The Jews, however, avoided the payment by using two other, unguarded entrances to the town and the incomes from the poll-tax were minimal.

In the year 1783, Jonah Hirsch was appointed tax-collector, at his own request and the tax was raised. In 1801 the citizens of the town petitioned the Bishop of Worms, complaining about the striking success of the Jews in commerce and their control as middle-men in property dealings, from which stemmed their economic strength and also on what they considered as fraudulent and excessive, heavy interest, claiming “They burden the community, which has been doubled in a short space of time, to death.”

In 1815 there were 9 tax-paying Jews in Neckarsteinach; 6 of them were property owners, whose collective assets were estimated at 8,750 Guilden - a relatively high sum In 1803 the community acquired a house, the upper floor of which they converted into a prayer-hall. The expenses for this were covered by taxes which the community levied upon its members, according to the detailed constitution as ratified by the Hessen authorities, which also laid down the manner in which the tax was to be levied and collected.

The Rabbi of Heidelberg, under whose jurisdiction the Jews still were at this time, took an active part in the organization of the collection of these taxes. The dead were buried in the Jewish cemetery at Hirschhorn. The community's children attended the municipal school. Religious instruction was provided by Yerucham David, the community's cantor and ritual slaughterer, until 1827, when he was removed from his position because of his lack of general education and poor German. From then on, the job passed from one to the other, probably because of the starvation wages being paid, and the poor esteem in which the incumbent was held by the community.

At the end of the 19th. Century, the religious teacher, David Ravinsky, was still obliged to sustain his large family on the miniscule, annual salary of 480 Marks. At the beginning of the 20th. Century there was no longer a religious teacher and the children received their religious instruction from various teachers in different neighbouring communities.

In 1886 the old, crumbling synagogue was demolished and the construction of a new one, consecrated in 1889, commenced. The Jewish community of Neckarsteinach was under the jurisdiction of the orthodox Rabbinical authority of Darmstadt.

At the beginning of the 20th. Century, the Jews were involved in the general public life of the town and many of them were members of local societies. The veteran community leader, Josef Salomon (d. 1930), was for many years a member of the fire-service and the Choral Society.

Among the active community members were numbered Simon Oppenheimer and Josef Ledermann (d. 1935), who was leader of the community until his death. Other members of the committee were Ludwig Oppenheimer and Max Stern.

In the Reichstag elections on 14th January, 1930, the Nazis won 20% of the residents' votes (the total in Hessen was 18.5%), while the largest party, the Social Democrats, received 36.4%. The Nazis' all-time high was in the Landtag elections of 19th. June 1932, when they received 44.8% of the votes (their Hessen total was the same) - while those of the Social Democrats went down to 28.4%.

Under Nazi Domination

Most of the Jews left Neckarsteinach during the first years of Nazi rule. Some of them emigrating to Palestine. In 1937 there remained only 13 Jews, at whose head stood Max Stern. The last Jewess moved to Mainz in September 1939. The synagogue was not damaged during the Kristallnacht riots, apparently having been sold earlier.

In 1948 the building was being used as a dwelling house.

Dr. Henry Wassermann
YadVashem, Jerusalem.

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