OFFENBACH


OFFENBACH, city in Hesse, Germany. The Jewish community of Offenbach is mentioned in the list of communities whose members were martyred at the time of the *Black Death persecutions (1348). Individual Jews lived in Offenbach only until after the expulsion of the Jews from *Frankfurt on the Main (1614); fleeing to Offenbach, they founded a small community, which in time developed and grew in strength. In 1702 one of the town's streets was called the Judenstrasse. The community was officially constituted in 1707; in the community regulations of that year and in the letters of privileges granted by the authorities in 1708, the organization of the synagogue and all matters of taxation, commerce, and labor were regulated. In 1708 a second Judenstrasse was set aside.

From 1788 to 1791 Jacob *Frank lived in the town, and his daughter Eva until 1817. During those years, thousands of Frank's adherents came to Offenbach in order to express their devotion to him and his daughter. Between 1803 and 1806 Wolf *Breidenbach of Offenbach endeavored to obtain the abolition of the body tax (*Leibzoll) in several of the German states. The Jewish community remained numerically stable at about 1,000 persons throughout the 19th century, while its proportion in the total population declined from about 10% to 3%. It attained a peak of 2,361 in 1910 and totaled 1,435 (1.8%) in 1933. In October 1936 large numbers of Polish Jews were expelled, and on November 10, 1938, the synagogue, built in 1913–16, was burned down. The last rabbi of the community, Dr. Max *Dienemann (served 1918–39), was attacked by the mob and imprisoned. Of 554 Jews who remained on May 17, 1939, 205 were deported in October 1942 and the rest soon after. Seven former inhabitants returned after the war and, with the aid of refugees, rebuilt the community. In June 1956 a new synagogue was consecrated, although in that month 70 tombstones were desecrated. In January 1970, there were 662 Jews living in Offenbach. The Jewish community numbered 829 in 1989 (together with Hanau) and 960 in 2005 (without Hanau, where an independent Jewish community was founded in 2005). About half the members are immigrants from the former Soviet Union. In 1997 a new community center was opened. The synagogue, which was built in 1956, is integrated into the new center. In the mid-1990s the community hired a rabbi, officiating in Offenbach and Hanau.

[Zvi Avneri /

Larissa Daemmig (2nd ed)]

Hebrew Printing

The Frankfurt bookseller Seligmann Reiss and his son Herz set up a Hebrew press in Offenbach and issued a variety of Hebrew and Judeo-German books between 1714 and 1721, among them Beit Yisrael by Alexander b. Moses Ethausen (1719); Historie vom Ritter Siegmund (1714); and similar medieval tales. Israel b. Moses Halle printed Hebrew books in Offenbach with interruptions from 1718 to at least 1738. In 1767 Hirsch Spitz of Pressburg (Bratislava) set up a Hebrew printing press in Offenbach; the press continued to operate until 1832, when competition from *Roedelheim became too strong. The well-known Amsterdam printer Abraham *Proops published Nathan Maz's Binyan Shelomo in Offenbach in 1784.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Silberstein, in: ZGJD, 5 (1892), 126–45; Zeitschrift fuer Demographie und Statistik der Juden, 4 (1908), 92; MGADJ, 1 (1909), 49–66; Z. Rubashov, Al Tillei Beit Frank (1923); S. Guggenheim, Aus der Vergangenheit der israelitischen Gemeinde zu Offenbach (1915); M. Dienemann-Hirsch, Max Dienemann, ein Gedenkbuch (1946); Mitteilungen des Gesamtarchivs der deutschen Juden, 1 (1909), 49–64; P. Arnsberg, Von Podolien nach Offenbach (1965); Germania Judaica, 2 (1968), 625; Ḥ.D. Friedberg, Toledot ha-Defus ha-Ivri… be-Eiropah (1937), 101–4; M. Steinschneider and D. Cassel, Juedische Typographie (1938), 261 (repr. from Ersch und Gruber, Allgemeine Encyclopaedie…, 28, 1851). ADD BIBLIOGRAPHY: P. Arnsberg, Die juedischen Gemeinden in Hessen. Bilder, Dokumente, vol. 3 (1973), 170–6; ibid., Anfang, Untergang, Neubeginn, vol. 1 (1971); ibid., vol. 2 (1971), 1160–80; K. Schild and W. Woell, Judenpogrom in Offenbach (1978); Zur Geschichte der Juden in Offenbach am Main, vols. 1–3 (1988–1994); H. Guttmann, Vom Tempel zum Gemeindezentrum. Synagogen im Nachkriegsdeutschland (1989), 23–29.


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.