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Jewish Culture

Museums, educational institutions and more

Frankfurt am Main is a centrepiece of Jewish life in Germany. Since the Middle Ages, the presence and influence of Jewish communities in Frankfurt has been palpable. From historic sites such as the Old Jewish Cemetery and the Westend Synagogue to the modern Jewish Museum, the city tells stories of challenges, achievements and the deep roots of Jewish traditions.

Today's Jewish Frankfurt pulsates with life and diversity. Cultural events, educational programmes and festivals invite visitors to discover the vibrant Jewish culture. These encounters not only offer insights into a rich history, but also promote dialogue and understanding between cultures.

An exploration of Jewish Frankfurt promises an enriching journey into a world full of tradition, resilience and creativity. Be inspired by the past and present of Jewish life in Frankfurt and discover the many facets of this unique culture.

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When someone builds a home, it means they want to stay.
Salomon Korn

Frankfurt Jews

A selection of well-known personalities

Old Jewish Cemetery

The oldest Jewish cemetery that still exists today is located in Battonnstraße in the city centre. Only a few graves from the cemetery, which once had 6,000 graves, were rebuilt after the destruction by the National Socialists. Mayer Amschel Rothschild, the founder of the House of Rothschild, is also buried here. In his book "Jud Süß", Lion Feuchtwanger describes a funeral service at this old Frankfurt Jewish cemetery, where Süß's daughter is buried.

 

New Jewish Cemetery

Between 1828 and 1929, many personalities from Frankfurt's city history over the last two centuries were buried at the Jewish cemetery in Rat-Beil-Straße in Frankfurt's Nordend district. The cemetery documents the eras and the division of Frankfurt's Jewish community. Separate burial plots have been laid out for the different branches of the Jewish faith.

Information on the Old and New Jewish Cemetery and other Jewish cemeteries can be found here.

Jewish memorials

Monuments, memorials, memorial steles, stumbling blocks

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There are places throughout the city that commemorate the history of Jews in Frankfurt in general, but also outstanding personalities.

Jewish community

After the Second World War, the Jewish community was re-established in July 1945.

After the Second World War, the Jewish community was re-established in July 1945. It was made up of many Holocaust survivors from Eastern Europe.

Today, the Jewish community in Frankfurt has a good 7,000 members and is the second largest in Germany after Berlin. The Jewish Museum Frankfurt, the Fritz Bauer Institute for research into the effects of the Holocaust, the important Judaica collection in the City and University Library and the Jewish Community of Frankfurt am Main are an important part of Jewish life and culture in the city.

The Jewish community is based in the Westend. The Ignatz Bubis Community Centre was opened in 1986. It includes kindergartens, the Isaak Emil Lichtigfeld School with a youth centre, social services, a senior citizens' club and the kosher restaurant Sohar. A centre for the elderly is located in the Bornheim district. The Frankfurt sports club TuS Makkabi is active in sports and the women's organisation WIZO and the women's association meet regularly.

Westend Synagogue

The synagogue in Freiherr-vom-Stein-Straße, which was built between 1908 and 1910, is a cultural and historical speciality. The mighty dome is striking and can be seen from afar. The pediment on the entrance side shows a medallion with a lion holding a shield with a Star of David under its paw. The interior is decorated with rich ornamentation in the colours blue and yellow gold. The room for the church service offers space for 1000 people. It is adjoined by administration rooms, flats, a prayer room and a prayer parlour, which is also used as a teaching hall.

It is one of the few places of worship to have survived after the war, although it was largely burnt down. The synagogue was rebuilt in 1950 and restored in 1994. It is therefore not only a religious centre, but also a memorial.

Jewish history

A chronicle from the 12th century onwards

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There is documentary evidence of a Jewish population in Frankfurt as early as 1150. Their settlement, which was under imperial protection, was located in the immediate vicinity of today's cathedral. However, even the privilege of Emperor Frederick II could not prevent the first Frankfurt pogrom in 1241.

The next major clashes took place in 1349, when Jews were blamed for the plague. When the cathedral caught fire, the rumour was spread that Jews had set it on fire, once again unleashing popular anger. More than 200 Jews were murdered.

In 1462, the Jews were forced to live in a ghetto on the outskirts of the city. Around 2,200 people lived there for the next 350 years, crammed into around 160 houses along the 330 metre long Staufer city wall. The lives of the inhabitants were restricted by ordinances.

The most threatening clashes occurred in 1612, when the (Christian) grocer Vincenz Fettmilch turned against the existing order. The conflicts between the city's lower classes, the council dominated by the patricians and the Jews intensified and led to Fettmilch and his followers not only locking up the city councillors in the Römer for several days, but also calling for the looting of the Judengasse. The so-called "Fettmilch Uprising" only came to an end with the execution of the rebels in 1616.

In 1796, French troops bombed the ghetto and destroyed it completely. As many families had to look for accommodation in other parts of the city, the ghetto was effectively abolished in 1796 and legally abolished in 1811.

The Philanthropin, a general education school, was founded in 1804. In 1850, orthodox Jews founded what would later become the Israelite religious community. However, Jewish citizenship continued to be denied to Jews in Frankfurt. It was not until 1864 that full equality was achieved. This enabled the Jewish community to grow.

The synagogue on Börneplatz was inaugurated in 1882, the synagogue in Friedberger Anlage in 1907 and the Westend Synagogue in 1910. With around 30,000 members, the Jewish community in Frankfurt was the second largest in Germany. Until the Second World War, Frankfurt experienced the most important era of Jewish activity in Frankfurt, analogous to Jewish emancipation.

The year 1933 marked, as everywhere in Germany, a deep break in this development. There was a general boycott of shops whose owners were Jewish. Further drastic humiliations and reprisals followed.

In 1938, synagogues were burnt down and homes, doctors' surgeries and shops were looted. More than 2500 Jewish men were deported to concentration camps.

From 1941, Jews had to wear the yellow star. More than 11,000 Frankfurt Jews were deported to extermination and concentration camps, where they were systematically murdered. Some were able to save themselves by emigrating.

After 1945, only a few hundred Jews returned to their destroyed hometown. The Westend Synagogue was rebuilt in 1950. The Jewish Community Centre was opened in 1986.

Guided Tours

to Jewish Frankfurt

Until 1933, Frankfurt had the largest Jewish community in Germany after Berlin. Learn more about former Jewish citizens, their contribution to cultural life and the history of the city on a two-hour themed tour on foot or by bus.

At Tourismus+Congress GmbH Frankfurt am Main, you can book the certified tour guides for the city of Frankfurt am Main on the subject of "Jewish Frankfurt". This tour is available for individual groups as a walking tour or as a round trip.

Großmarkthalle memorial site

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Jewish Frankfurt by bus

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Jewish Frankfurt on foot

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