Berne

General information: First Jewish presence: 1790; peak Jewish population: 64 in 1873; Jewish; population in 1933: 14
Summary: By 1820, the Jewish community of Berne had established a prayer hall, a schoolroom and an apartment for a teacher. In 1840, S.R. Hirsch, the Oldenburg regional rabbi, consecrated a synagogue in Berne. As was the case in many other small German towns, the Jewish population dwindled during the next few decades, so that in 1899 only two children studied religion in Berne. Many of those who remained, however, prospered financially. The anti-Jewish boycott of 1933 unleashed a wave of anti- Semitic rhetoric and legislation against the once-respected Jewish community of Berne. Dr. Louis Koopman, scion of one of the town’s first Jewish families and a respected lawyer, community leader and municipal official, was removed from his hard-earned positions, after which he managed to eke out a living as a lecturer in agricultural studies at the local Zionist Hachshara training camp. Dr. Koopman’s successor as community leader sold the synagogue in 1938, using the proceeds to enable the remaining families to flee Germany. Accordingly, the building was not set on fire on Pogrom night; the furniture and ritual objects were, however, thrown out and burned. At the time of writing, passersby would see no indication that the still-intact building was once a house of worship.
Author / Sources: Harold Slutzkin; Sources: LJG
Located in: Lower Saxony