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WOLFENBUETTEL , town in Lower Saxony, Germany. There was a small Jewish community in Wolfenbuettel during the 18th century. In 1781 a synagogue was erected to replace the prayer room that had previously been in use. After a new synagogue was dedicated in 1893, the old one was used as a private dwelling. A cemetery was acquired by the community in 1724 (it was desecrated in 1938). The small community is mainly known for the Jewish school that was established in the town. In 1786 Philip Samson and his brother Herz, *Landrabbiner and *Court Jew of the duke of Brunswick, founded a bet midrash for poor boys, under the directorship of Philip, where four to five hours a week were set aside for secular studies (German, arithmetic, etc.). Ten years later another school was founded, endowed by Herz's widow. In 1806–07, under the influence of Israel *Jacobson, the schools amalgamated and revolutionized their curriculum. Less emphasis was given to talmudic studies, which were eventually replaced by catechism. The innovations were carried out by one of the first pupils, S.M. Ehrenburg, who conducted the earliest confirmation ceremony in 1807. The first to be confirmed was Leopold *Zunz, who taught in the school for five years; his contemporary at school was the historian I.M. *Jost. Attendance at the Samsonsche Freischule grew from about a dozen pupils in the late 18th century to 150–200 a century later, when it had become a recognized Realgymnasium (high school). It included a hostel. French and English were taught, and Jewish studies included Bible with Mendelssohn's translation, Jewish laws and customs, and a little Jewish history. The trend was that of liberal Judaism. The school was closed on Sabbaths and open on Sundays. In 1928 it was closed following the post-World War i inflation. There were 125 Jews living in Wolfenbuettel in 1932 and 112 in 1933. They maintained two philanthropic organizations. The community ceased to exist during World War ii. There are memorials at the Jewish cemetery (from the 1970s and 1980s). A memorial (inaugurated in 1988) and a commemorative plaque (inaugurated in 2000) are dedicated to the former synagogue. In 2005 a new memorial was built to commemorate the Jewish citizens who lived in Wolfenbuettel during the Nazi era.


H. Schulze in: Zeitschrift fuer die Geschichte der Juden, 3 (1966), 1–11; idem, in: Braunschweigisches Jahrbuch, 48/49 (1967–69), 23–61, 62–85; M. Eliav, Ha-Ḥinnukh ha-Yehudi be-Germanyah (1960), index. add bibliography: R. Busch, Samsonschule Wolfenbuettel 17861928. Ausstellung aus Anlass der 200. Wiederkehr des Gruendungstages (Veroeffentlichungen des Braunschweigischen Landesmuseums, vol. 46) (1986); Sie werden lernen von deinen Worten. Kostbare hebraeische Buecher in der Herzog August Bibliothek (1988); M. Berg, Juedische Schulen in Niedersachsen (Beitraege zur historischen Bildungsforschung, vol. 28) (2003).

[Abraham J. Brawer]