OFFENBURG , town in Baden, Germany. It appears that there were Jews in Offenburg during the 13th century. A Judenbad (mikveh), 39 ft. (12 m.) deep, dating from this period was discovered in 1857. At the time of the *Black Death (1348–49), three Jews "confessed" under torture that they had poisoned the wells. Although the well was later examined and no signs of poison were found, the Jews were expelled. The town gates were not reopened to Jews until 1862. A community was formally established in 1866. The number of Jews increased from 37 in 1863 to 337 in 1900. An inn was transformed into a synagogue in 1875 and renovated in 1922. There were 271 Jews in Offenburg in 1933. Offenburg was the seat of the district rabbinate serving dozens of rural localities, the last rabbi being Siegfried (Sinai) *Ucko. On November 9/10, 1938, the interior of the synagogue was demolished, and 91 Jews were deported to *Gurs on October 22, 1941. In 1967 there were four Jews in Offenburg. The Oberrat – the association of Jewish communities in Baden – sold the synagogue to a private owner. In 1997 it was purchased by the municipality of Offenburg. It was restored with public funding and has served as a municipal cultural center since 2002. A small exhibition is dedicated to the history of the building and the Jewish community. The former mikveh is open to the public.
Germania Judaica, 2 (1968), 625–6; F. Hundsnurscher and G. Taddey, Die juedischen Gemeinden in Baden (1968), passim; fjw, 351–2; O. Kaehni, in: Veroeffentlichungen des historischen Vereins fuer Mittelbaden, 49 (1969). add bibliography: M. Ruch (ed), Juedische Stimmen. Interviews, autobiographische Zeugnisse, schriftliche Quellen zur Geschichte der Offenburger Juden in der Zeit von 1933–1945 (Veroeffentlichungen des Kulturamtes der Stadt Offenburg, vol. 21) (1995); M. Ruch, Verfolgung und Widerstand in Offenburg 1933–1945. Dokumentation (Veroeffentlichungen des Kulturamtes, vol. 20) (1995); idem, In staendigem Einsatz. Das Leben Siegfried Schurmanns. Juedische Schicksale aus Offenburg und Suedbaden 1907–1997 (1997); idem, Aus der Heimat verjagt. Zur Geschichte der Familie Neu. Juedische Schicksale aus Offenburg und Suedbaden 1874–1998 (1998); idem, Juedisches Offenburg. Einladung zu einem Rundgang (1999); S. Dzialoszynski and M. Ruch, Der gute Ort. Der juedische Friedhof in Offenburg (2000); M. Ruch, Der Salmen. Geschichte der Offenburger Synagoge. Gasthof – Synagoge – Spielstaette (2002). websites: M. Ruch, Quellen zur Geschichte der Offenburger Juden im 17. Jahrhundert (www.freidok.uni-freiburg.de/volltexte/301/); www.jakob-adler-zentrum-offenburg.de.
[Zvi Avneri /
Larissa Daemmig (2nd ed.)]