OLDENBURG, city and former state in Lower Saxony, Germany. Jews lived in the city of Oldenburg in the early 14th century. In 1334 the municipal council decided to cease issuing letters of protection (Schutzbriefe) to Jews; however, they continued to reside there under the protection of the duke of Oldenburg, who agreed that they be allowed to deal only in money lending. The community ceased during the *Black Death persecutions (1348). Jews must have returned soon after, for a privilege of 1365 granted them the same rate of interest as had been accorded the Jews of Bremen. Between 1667 and 1773 Oldenburg belonged to Denmark. In this period the dukes made use of the services of Sephardi *Court Jews and financiers from Hamburg, such as Jacob Mussaphia and his sons. A few Jews from Oldenburg attended the Leipzig fairs. Three Jewish families lived in Vechta, in the duchy of Oldenburg, in the middle of the 18th century. Their number increased during French occupation after 1810. A law of August 25, 1827, organized communal affairs, made German names and language compulsory, regulated the conditions of their inferior civil status, and ordered a Landrabbiner to be appointed for Oldenburg. The first to hold this office was Nathan Marcus *Adler, who took office in 1829 and moved to Hanover in 1831. Samson Raphael *Hirsch succeeded him until 1841 and there he wrote his Choreb. His successor was Bernhard Wechsler (d. 1874), who consecrated the new synagogue in the city in 1835. In 1859 Jewish affairs were reorganized by a new comprehensive law. The Jews of the duchy numbered 1,359 in 1900; by 1925 their number had declined to 1,015 (of which 250 lived in the city of Oldenburg). In 1933 there were 279 Jews. Sizable communities existed in the towns of Delmenhorst, Jever, Varel, Vechta, and Wildeshausen; and in the region of Birkenfeld, Bosen, Hoppstaedten, Oberstein, Idar, and Soetern. The synagogue of Oldenburg was destroyed on November 9/10, 1938, and the last Landrabbiner, Leo Trepp, was deported to *Sachsenhausen. The community was annihilated during the war. In 1959, 35 Jews were again living in Oldenburg, and in 1967 a memorial was erected on the site of the synagogue. In 1992 the Jewish community was refounded. From the beginning it was egalitarian, counting women and men for the minyan. In 1997 there were 150 Jewish residents. From 1995 to 2004 Bea Wyler – a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York – officiated as a rabbi in Oldenburg (and Brunswick and Delmenhorst until 2000 as well). Born in Switzerland, she was the first woman rabbi in Germany after the Shoah. In 1995 a new synagogue was consecrated in the presence of Rabbi Leo Trepp. In 2002 a new community building and in 2002 a mikveh were inaugurated. In 2005 the community numbered 330. More than 90% of the members are immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
L. Trepp, Die Landesgemeinde der Juden in Oldenburg (1965); idem, Eternal Faith, Eternal People (1962), 294–7; D. Mannheimer, Gesetzessammlung betreffend die Juden im Herzogtum Oldenburg (1918); Germ Jud, 2 (1968), 627–8; FJW (1932/33), 410–4; H. Schnee, Die Hoffinanz und der moderne Staat, 3 (1955), 124–7; Zeitschrift fuer Demographie and Statistik der Juden, 4 (1908), 14. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: L. Trepp, Die Oldenburger Judenschaft. Bild und Vorbild juedischen Seins und Werdens in Deutschland (Oldenburger Studien, vol. 8) (1973); E. Meyer, Die Reichskristallnacht in Oldenburg (1979); J.-F. Toellner et al., Die juedischen Friedhoefe im Oldenburger Land (1983); E. Meyer (ed.), Die Synagogen des Oldenburger Landes (Oldenburger Studien, vol. 29) (1988); U. Elerd (ed.), Die Geschichte der Oldenburger Juden und ihre Vernichtung (Veroeffentlichungen des
[Encyclopaedia Judaica (Germany) and
Zvi Avneri /
Larissa Daemmig (2nd ed.)]
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