WARENDORF , town in the former Prussian province of Westphalia, N.W. Germany, after 1945 in North Rhine-Westphalia. In the Middle Ages Jews from Warendorf are mentioned only once, in 1387 in Cologne. From the early 16th century many Jews settled in the bishopric of Muenster; they are first mentioned in Warendorf in 1553. After 1628, jurisdiction over the Jews in the bishopric of Muenster passed to the bishop, and under his protection a Jewish community gradually developed in Warendorf. It was one of the largest in the bishopric and remained its main community until the abolition of episcopal rule in 1802, as no Jews were allowed to reside in the city of Muenster until the Emancipation. Warendorf was the seat of the Obervorgaenger (elder) of the Muenster *Landjudenschaft, founded in 1651, as well as of the Muenster *Landrabbiner after the Muenster rabbinate had become separated from that of Cologne. The first Landrabbiner was Samuel Michel Essingen (1742), known as a disciple of Jonathan *Eybeschuetz. His successor was Michael Meyer Breslau of Hildesheim (1771–89), *Court Jew and mint supplier to the Muenster bishop; Michael Meyer was followed by his son David Breslau (1790–1815). A synagogue is first mentioned in 1709; it was renovated in 1808 and 1897. The community of Warendorf owned a cemetery from 1773; after 1823 a new cemetery was acquired. From one or two Jewish families living in Warendorf, their number grew to 18 (88 persons) in 1803 when the bishopric came under Prussian rule. Since neighboring Muenster was now open to Jewish settlement, a number of Jews left Warendorf. The community later increased slightly. It numbered 99 in 1833; 55 in 1849; 85 in 1880; 43 in 1933; and 15 in 1939.
The synagogue was destroyed in 1938. The last six Jews from Warendorf who had not emigrated were deported, with other Jews of the Muenster region, to Riga on Dec. 13, 1941, and murdered there. A memorial to the martyrs was consecrated in the cemetery in 1970.
The community was not reconstituted after the war. In 1971 two Jews were living in the town. The synagogue building was used as a dwelling. A plaque commemorates the former synagogue.
B. Brilling, in: H.C. Meyer (ed.), Aus Geschichte und Leben der Juden in Westfalen; eine Sammelschrift (1962), 241ff., esp. 257; B. Brilling (ed.), Westfalia Judaica, 1 (1967), 212; F. Lazarus, in: mgwj, 80 (1936), 106–17; C. Rixen, Geschichte und Organisation der Juden im ehemaligen Stift Muenster (1906); H. Schnee, Die Hoffinanz und der moderne Staat, 3 (1955), 54ff.; W. Zuhorn, in: Warendorfer Blaetter fuer Orts-und Heimatskunde, 13 (1914), nos. 1–3; nos. 5–7. add bibliography: M. Broemmelhaus, "Nach unbekannt verzogen," in: Die Geschichte der Warendorfer Juden in der Zeit des 3. Reiches (Quellen und Forschungen zur Geschichte des Kreises Warendorf, vol. 19) (1988).