SOEST , town in Germany. The Jewish settlement in Soest is continuous from its beginning in the 13th century until the Holocaust. Jews must have been present in the city during the first half of the 13th century, since a mid-13th century source attests that Jews from Soest were house owners in Cologne. At the beginning of the 14th century, Soest Jews paid a sum of eight marks yearly to the archbishop of Cologne as Schutzgeld ("protection money"). From 1330 onward jurisdiction over the Jews passed to the city, which did not allow more than two Jewish families to reside there. Among the Jews of Soest in the Middle Ages were a number of municipal physicians, a very unusual phenomenon for Westphalian Jews at the time. Among these were Master Solomon (1510) and Benedictus (1540). Another remarkable event was the conversion to Judaism of a scholar and canon named Robert, who died in Frankfurt in 1298.
From the beginning of Prussian rule, in the mid-17th century, the Jews of Soest belonged to the duchy of Mark. A family named Stern moved from Frankfurt and around 1700 settled in Soest, where their descendants lived until the Holocaust. Even in the 18th century the number of Jewish families was restricted to two. Only after Soest was included in the grand duchy of Berg (1807–14) did the number increase (70 people in 1822). At that time a synagogue was built, which was expanded in 1882. In addition to the medieval cemetery, a new one was purchased in 1832. Under the influence of the Obervorsteher ("senior warden"), L. Hellwitz, changes inspired by the concepts of "radical Reform" were introduced into the liturgy during the first half of the 19th century. The private Jewish primary school, founded in 1828, was converted into a municipal school in 1855. Due to the inclusion of nearby communities, the membership of the Soest community rose to 323 Jews by 1880. After that there was a steady decline: in 1933 there were 162 Jews in Soest, while in 1939 only 64 Jews remained. Deportations to concentration camps brought the community to an end. The four Jews residing there in 1971 belonged to the community of *Paderborn. In 2005, eight Jews from Soest were affiliated with the Paderborn Jewish community. There are commemorative plaques at the Jewish cemetery and the site of the former synagogue.
Germania Judaica, 2 (1968), 769f.; vol 3 (1987), 1376–78; B. Brilling and H. Richtering, Westfalia Judaica, 1 (1967), s.v.Soest; S. Katzenstein, in: Soester Heimatkalender (1930), 60–62; Mitteilungen des Gesamtarchivs der deutschen Juden, 3 (1911/12), 26–53. add bibliography: M. Brocke, Der juedische Friedhof in Soest. Eine Dokumentation in Text und Bild; G. Koehn, Die juedische Gemeinde Soest. Ihre Mitglieder von 1700 bis zur Vertreibung und Ermordung im Dritten Reich (Soester Beitraege, vol. 50) (1993); W. Buss, Sosatia Judaica. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Juden in Soest (1994); U. Sasse-Voswinckel and G. Koehn, Juedische Nachbarn in Soest bis 1942 (2001).