First Jewish presence: 17th century; peak Jewish population: 160 in 1852 (15% of the total population); Jewish population in 1933: 12

During the 17th century, Ruchheim Jews were members of the Jewish community in nearby Fussgoenheim, which is where Ruchheim’s modern Jewish community, founded in 1859, buried its dead. Ruchheim was home to a synagogue or a prayer room in the 18th century. The community maintained a synagogue, located in a private residence, in the mid-19th century, after which, in 1862, a new synagogue was inaugurated at 52 Fussgoenheimer Strasse; this synagogue soon fell into disrepair, and was accordingly rebuilt in 1881 to accommodate 60 seats for men, 35 for women, a schoolroom and a teacher’s apartment. We also know that the community maintained a mikveh and, from 1836 until 1907, a Jewish public school. Beginning in 1907, schoolchildren studied religion with a teacher from Ludwigshafen. In Ruchheim, a community official performed the duties of chazzan and shochet. In 1933, 12 Jews lived in Ruchheim. Nevertheless, the community held on to its synagogue even after it could no longer gather 10 men for a minyan. On Pogrom Night, axewielding rioters destroyed the interior of the synagogue; ritual objects and books were taken outside and burned. Most Jews managed to leave Ruchheim before the deportations. The village’s last Jews, a married couple named Jakob and Klara Leva, were deported to Gurs on October 22, 1940. At least 24 Ruchheim Jews perished in the Shoah. The synagogue was later turned into a Protestant community center. A commemorative plaque was unveiled there in 1985; in 2008, several memorial stumbling stones were affixed to the ground.
Esther Sarah Evans
Copyright: Pogrom Night 1938 - A Memorial to the Destroyed Synagogues of Germany/


Sources: Alemannia Judaica, The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, Shmuel Spector [Ed.], [publisher] Yad Vashem and the New York University Press, 2001.

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