Encyclopaedia of Jewish Communities:
Germany volume 3

51°17' / 09°21'

Translation from Pinkas ha-kehilot Germanyah

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem, 1992



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This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopaedia of Jewish Communities, Germany
Volume 3, pages 441-442, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 1992

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[Pages 441-442]

Hoof, Germany
(Hoof – a town in the Kassel district,
today a part of the town Schauenberg)

YearNumber of
of Jews

Religious Affiliation by Percentage in 1925


From the History of the Community

Adjacent to the house of [von] Dalwigk, ruler of Hoof, Jews were granted permission to settle. In the beginning of the 18th century, a few protected Jews lived in Hoof (called Hof, or “court” until 1850), Breitenbach, and Elmshagen.

In 1715 there were six “Schuetzjuden” (protected Jews) in Breitenbach, one of them the owner of a house – and a widow, who owned a small home.

In 1744, seven Jewish families settled in Hoof, and eight families in Breitenbach, among them a cantor. In 1776, nine Jewish families lived in Hoof, in Breitenbach, 14. Jews of Hoof barely earned a living in petty trade and in the sale of livestock. In 1799 a melamed (teacher) was in Hoof. In that same year, the Jews of Hoof complained before the Prince of Nassau about the ban imposed by the city rabbi on young men and women dancing – but the prince sided with the rabbi.

Wolf Breitenbach (1751-1829, born in Breitenbach) earned exceptional fame. Despite his coming from a poor household, he studied Jewish and secular knowledge in Frankfort and became the Prince of Eisenberg's court factor (or agent), and from 1795, the court factor of the Prince of Hessen. For a time he was counted among the wealthy of Germany, and as a shtadlan (advocate) he strove to annul the degrading “body tax” (see Offenbach). Josef Speyer (1743-1815), a doctor, graduate of the University of Kassel, although born in Hoof, left his religion and changed his name to Johann Valentin August Speyer (and published a pamphlet which explained his actions).

Three residents of Hoof and of Breitenbach took part in the wars of 1813-15.

In 1823, 26 Jewish families lived in Hoof (128 souls); in Breitenbach, 10 families (34 souls); and in Elmshagen, two families (11 souls).

The combined community was the largest in the kreis (county) of Kassel in the 19th century. In 1839, 32 taxpayers were counted (19 in Hoof, 11 in Breitenbach, and 2 in Elmshagen). In 1857, 37: 26 in Hoof, 10 in Breitenbach, and one in Elmshagen. Ten families were defined as impoverished. In 1861 there were 54 Jews in Breitenbach; in 1905, 31; and in 1925, 19. Fourteen Jews lived in Elmshagen in 1861.

The old Jewish cemetery, in the part allocated to the community adjacent to the Dalwigk home, served the community until 1838. Later, it was closed after many graves were damaged by a spring of water. In 1840, a new cemetery was opened, which was expanded in 1929, and in 1931 the two cemeteries were united. A synagogue in Hoof was situated in a building from 1830. In 1842, the community requested to enlarge it. However, a controversy with the Jews of Breitenbach over the question of financing was not settled until 1849. From that time on, the Jews of Hoof bore the burden by themselves. In 1854 they completed the renovation work. The prayer hall held 48 seats for men and 30 for women. In the basement was a ritual bath, and in the upper story, classrooms and an apartment for the teacher. In 1827 the community opened an elementary school, and Abraham Goldschmidt (1881 retired with a pension, died in 1886) served as a teacher (and kosher butcher and cantor).

In 1827, 28 children studied in this school; in the years 1887-1890, 53 to 56; and in 1902, 38. In 1921 only a few students remained, and it was proposed to merge the school with the Protestant school, but the project was never realized. In the years 1881-1924, the Jewish teacher in Hoof was Meir Rothschild.

In the First World War, 4 of the Jews of Hoof fell, and in 1927, the community put up a memorial plaque in the synagogue with their names on it.

In May 1924 a representative from the Jewish independent list was chosen for the city council. In the same year many tombstones in the community's cemetery were defaced.

The community had a synagogue, a cemetery (2,053 sq. meters), and a ritual bath, as well as kosher slaughter. In 1932, 13 Jewish children studied in the school with the teacher Menko Schirling, who founded the Sisterhood (1925) and the synagogue choir. The “Humanitaet” charitable society (12 members, founded in 1852) and a branch of the “Central Assembly” also met in his workplace. The community belonged to the rabbinic district of Kassel, and at its head stood H. Wertheim.

In the elections of Nov. 6, 1932, for the Reichstag, the Nazis received 46% of the votes of residents (compared with 41.2% in all of Hessen-Nassau). The Social Democrats received 33%, and the Communists 16%.

Under Nazi Rule

At the end of 1933, the Jewish school was closed. In August 1935, storm troopers set off explosives in Jewish homes. In the Kristallnacht pogrom, and apparently again on Nov. 8, 1938, the synagogue was damaged. After the pogrom, it was sold, and in 1940 torn down.

About 10 of the members of the community emigrated – to Argentina, Holland and the United States – and we have no information about those who remained.

At the end of the war, a Jewish survivor of the camps came back to Hoof, and later immigrated to the United States. The synagogue was used for housing, and in 1985 it was recognized as a protected historic site.

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