The Jewish community in Obernbreit

The first documented Jewish person settled down in Obernbreit in 1688 under a Letter of Protection by the Markgraf of Ansbach. An old chronicle says that there had been earlier Jewish families in Obernbreit who, however, had been expelled. On the whole little is known about the history of Jews in Obernbreit.

What we do know is that the Jewish community steadily grew until the first half of the 19th century. In 1853 Jewish inhabitants made up 13% of the population. Their commercial skills largely contributed to the welfare and prosperity of Obernbreit.

But since the place had no railway station the economic decline began around the 1860ies and subsequently more and more Jewish families left Obernbreit for the more prosperous towns in Germany or for America. So in 1911 no service could be held in Obernbreit any more because less than the required 10 adult males lived here. In 1942 the three remaining Jewish persons - one female, two male - were deported. There were no survivors.



The Obernbreit synagoge

In 1748 the Jewish community had a synagoge built in the centre of the village following the style of the time and the injunction of the sovereign. It was an inconspicuous building whose outer design blended with the surrounding houses. After most Jewish inhabitants had left by 1911 it was desecrated and sold. Over the years various owners used it as a repair shop and for different storage purposes completely disfiguring the interior design.

Since no photographs or detailed descriptions of the original interior exist there was no idea of reconstructing the synagogue. Instead only visible remains were preserved or unobtrusively supplemented (patches of plaster on walls and the ceiling, the women's gallery, the vaulted roof).

So you can read the walls like a book wounds afflicted to the building by history and various owners.

The former synagogue was remodeled in 2011 to 2013 and has become an atmosperic place for lectures, concerts and exhibitions.



The Chuppastein (the wedding stone)

Weatherworn and half hidden under paint and plaster the wedding stone had through the years indicated the original purpose of the building. But before it was restored in 1995 hardly any of the passers-by took notice of it. In the centre of the six pointed star (star or shield of David) it says in Hebrew letters "good luck"; above and below the star there is a quotation from Jeremy 7.34 and 33.11 (voice of joy - voice of jubilation/ voice of the bride - voice of the groom)

The letters to the left and to the right indicate the year when the synagoge was built: in the year 5508 according to the Jewish calendar that is 1748 AD.

marriage stone (restored)
on the western facade


This way a stone monument to jewish life in obernbreit has not only been preserved, it has rather been restored again to be perceived as an optical characteristic by pedestrains to remember the synagogue. As a part of a thesis about rural synagogoues in franconia, the building has been measured and completely examined by a researcher with a surprising result: the original arrangement of the rooms could be proven. There has been an appartment for the teacher or cantor, die actual synagogue and the gallery for the women. The shape of the then existing roof structure and with this the form of the ceiling above the sacred room could also be discovered. Sensational was the revelation of an obviously well preserved mikveh (ritual bath) in a depth of 10 m. Its existence had merely been assumed in the limited literature about the building.