The Jewish community in Obernbreit
The first recorded Jewish person settled down in Obernbreit in 1688 under a Letter of Protection by the Markgraf of Ansbach. An old chronicle says that there had been earlier Jewish families in Obernbreit who, however, had been expelled. On the whole little is known about the history of Jews in Obernbreit.
What we do know is that the Jewish community steadily grew until the first half of the 19th century. In 1853 Jewish inhabitants made up 13% of the population. Their commercial skills largely contributed to the welfare and economic importance of the place.
But since Obernbreit had no railway station the economic decline of the place began by the 1860ies and subsequently more and more Jewish families left Obernbreit for the more prosperous towns in Germany or for America. So in 1911 no service could be held in Obernbreit any more because less than the required 10 adult males lived here. In 1942 the three remaining Jewish persons - one female, two male - were deported. There were no survivors.
In 1748 the Jewish community had a synagoge built in the centre of the village following the style of the time and the injunction of the sovereign. It was an inconspicuous building whose outer design blended with the surrounding houses. After most Jewish inhabintants had left by 1911 it was desecrated and sold. Over the years various owners used it as a repair shop and for different storage purposes completely disfiguring the interior design.
In 2005 a number of committed citicens founded the Träger- und Förderverein ehemalige Synagoge Obernbreit e.V. ( Friends of the former synygogue). They acquired the building to put it to a meaningfull purpose: a house of rememberance and learning. Having undergone thorough restauration it is now open for lectures, exhibitions, concerts and meetings. The main object of the Friends of the former synygogue is not only to remember the past but to further open-mindedness, tolerance and mutual understanding. That's why they cooperate with schools – from primary to high - and offer programmes which appeal to all.
The Chuppastein (the wedding stone)
Half hidden under paint and plaster and weatherworn the wedding stone through the years had indicated the original purpose of the building. But before it was restored in 1995 hardly any of the passers-by took notice of it. In the centre of the six pointed star (star or shield of David) it says in Hebrew letters "good luck"; above and below the star there is a quotation from Jeremy 7.34 and 33.11 (voice of joy - voice of jubilation/ voice of the bride - voice of the groom)
Wedding stone (restored)
on the western facade
This way a stone monument to jewish life in obernbreit has not only been preserved, it has rather been restored again to be perceived as an optical characteristic by pedestrains to remember the synagogue. As a part of a thesis about rural synagogoues in franconia, the building has been measured and completely examined by a researcher with a surprising result: the original arrangement of the rooms could be proven. There has been an appartment for the teacher or cantor, die actual synagogue and the gallery for the women. The shape of the then existing roof structure and with this the form of the ceiling above the sacred room could also be discovered. Sensational was the revelation of an obviously well preserved mikweh (ritual bath) in a depth of 10 m. Its existence had merely been assumed in the limited literature about the building.