Idstein

General information: First Jewish presence: Middle Ages; peak Jewish population: 97 in 1895 (3.5% of the total population); Jewish population in 1933: 63
Summary: We do not know what happened to Idstein’s medieval Jewish community, but it is clear that Jews did not return to the town until the 17th century. By 1895, most local Jews were merchants (dealing in cattle, skins and grain), shopkeepers or butchers. Services were conducted in a prayer room until 1793, when a synagogue was erected on Judengasse, or “Jews’ alley” (present-day Felix Lahn Strasse; during the Nazi period Hintere Borngasse). The building accommodated a mikveh, 40 seats for men and 18 for women, and was renovated in 1875 and 1935. Burials were conducted in Esch until 1874, at which point a cemetery was consecrated near Escher Strasse. In Idstein, the Jewish teacher not only served as shochet and chazzan, but also worked at the Calmenhof local institute, teaching intellectually disabled children; at some point in the 1920s, the teacher opened his own home to these children. The community, members of which were active in the town’s social life, maintained a charitable association. On Pogrom Night, rioters plundered Jewish homes, demolished the synagogue’s interior and burned ritual objects. After World War II, the former synagogue—it had been sold at some point after Pogrom Night—was remodeled into a residential building. The street was later renamed after the last head of the Jewish community, Felix Lahn; a memorial plaque has been affixed to a neighboring building. At least 17 Jews from Idstein perished in the Shoah.
Author / Sources: Heike Zaun Goshen
Sources: AH, AJ, EJL
Located in: Hesse