Heidelberg is a city in Baden, Germany. Heidelberg is mentioned in the will of Judah b. Samuel he-Ḥasid (d. 1217), but the reference may be a later addition. The first reliable evidence for the presence of Jews in the town dates from 1275. In the years thereafter, numerous Jews lived in Heidelberg until the community was decimated during the Black Death (1349). However, soon afterward, the elector Rupert I admitted Jewish refugees from Worms and Speyer in the face of local opposition, in return for a considerable payment. There is evidence that a well-organized community began functioning again, at the latest in 1357. Its development was halted abruptly, however, through the expulsion by elector Rupert II in 1391 of all the Jews in his domain, including those of Heidelberg. Among the 12 families driven out of their homes was Israel of Heidelberg, the copyist of the Darmstadt *Haggadah. Their houses, synagogue, bath, cemetery, and manuscripts were given to the university. From then till the mid-17th century, only isolated settlements of individual Jews occurred. In 1660 the *Oppenheimer family arrived; Joseph Suess Oppenheimer, the powerful Court Jew, was born there in 1698. In 1700 11 Jewish families lived in Heidelberg, which was the seat of the chief rabbi of the Palatinate. Their number increased during the 18th century in spite of local opposition, and they were granted full civil liberty by the edict of 1808. They suffered during the Hep! Hep! riots of 1819 and during the revolution of 1848. The Reform movement had little success in introducing prayer in the vernacular into the Heidelberg synagogue. A Jewish elementary school was founded. Heidelberg University was among the first in Germany to accept Jews as students. At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, some illustrious Jews from Russia studied at the university, including S. Tchernichowsky and J. Klausner. Among its professors were H. Schapira and E. Taeubler. The university was also traditionally a center of strong antisemitic agitation, and after 1933 Jewish students and professors were harassed and driven away.
In 1933 there were 1,100 Jews in the city (1.3% of the total population). The April 7 expulsion of Jews from the civil services resulted in the dismissal of 34 Jewish professors. By 1935 there was only one "full" Jewish student at the University, the remaining "Jewish" students were of mixed ancestry. Fourteen Polish Jews were expelled in October 1938. The synagogues were demolished on Nov. 10, 1938; its religious objects were confiscated and destroyed by university students. One hundred and fifty Jewish men were deported to Dachau but later released. On Oct. 22, 1940, 339 Jews were transported to Gurs. One hundred Jews were saved from deportation by Protestant Evangelical Pastor Hermann Maas, who got them out of the country. He was subsequently recognized by Yad Vashem as a Righteous Gentile. From 1942 to 1945, a further 103 were deported, mainly to Theresienstadt. Eighteen returned after the war and joined the 50 of mixed marriages that had outlived the war at Heidelberg. A new community came into being after World War II, numbering 139 persons in 1967. A new synagogue was consecrated in 1958. In 1979 the Central Council of Jews in Germany (Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland) opened the Hochschule fuer Juedische Studien (University for Jewish Studies) in Heidelberg. From 2001 it offered a program for rabbinical training in cooperation with Orthodox, Conservative, and Liberal rabbinical seminaries in Jerusalem, New York, and London. In 1987 the Central Council of Jews in Germany established the Central Archives for research on the history of the Jews in Germany, which collects documents from Jewish communities, associations, organizations, and individuals. The Jewish community numbered 188 in 1989 and 550 in 2005. The membership increased due to the immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union. A new community center was opened in 1994.
L. Loewenstein, Geschichte der Juden in der Kurpfalz (1895); Germ Jud, 2 (1968), 344–5; M. Ludwig (ed.), Aus dem Tagebuch des Hans O.: Dokumente… ueber… den Untergang der Heidelberger Juden (1965); PK Germanyah; Rieger, in: Beitraege zur Geschichte der deutschen Juden: Festschrift… Martin Philipsons (1916), 178–83; F. Hundsnurscher and G. Taddey, Die juedischen Gemeinden in Baden (1968), 121–9 and index; M. Lowenthal, The Jews of Germany (1936), 231–3. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: N. Giovannini and F. Moraw, Erinnertes Leben. Autobiographische Texte zur juedischen Geschichte Heidelbergs (1998); A. Cser et al., Geschichte der Juden in Heidelberg (1996; Buchreihe der Stadt Heidelberg, volume 6); N. Giovannini, J.H. Bauer, and H.M. Mumm (eds.), Juedisches Leben in Heidelberg. Studien zu einer ununterbrochenen Geschichte (1992); A. Weckbecker, Die Judenverfolgung in Heidelberg 1933–1945 (1985; Motive – Texte – Materialien, volume 29); idem, "Die Judenverfolgung in Heidelberg 1933–1945," in: J. Schadt and M. Caroli (eds.), Heidelberg unter dem Nationalsozialismus. Studien zu Verfolgung, Widerstand und Anpassung (1985), 399–467; idem, Gedenkbuch an die ehemaligen Heidelberger Buerger juedischer Herkunft. Dokumentation ihrer Namen und Schicksale 1933–1945 (1983).
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