A mikvah, a cemetery and a synagogue are important facilities in any Jewish community, and they also existed in Creglingen.
The cemetery lies towards the south-west, above the town, and has been in place for more than 300 years. The first recorded burial there took place in 1696. The gravestone – of Eisik Jizchak ben Mosche – still survives, though it’s badly weathered. In a departure from common practice, Jewish graves are not leveled. They are meant to remain until the arrival of the Messiah, so the dead can be resurrected.
Today, 373 graves are documented and verifiable. This is where Josef Pressburger, Peppi Sinsheimer and many of the other people you’ll meet on our tour have their final resting places.
The mikvah is a plunge bath, where men and women perform ritual ablutions. Over the centuries, there were no fewer than three of them in Creglingen.
The first was in a Jewish family’s house in Lindleinstrasse. Today, no trace of it remains. The second was probably in the synagogue that was next to a local tower, the Faulturm. But the water came from the River Tauber, and at one stage, it became badly polluted, so the bath had to be closed. In response, the Jewish community built its third mikvah beside a local stream called Herrgottsbach. The late 19th century construction plan includes a nice little detail. At the bottom, on the left, there’s a drawing of an oval bathtub – where folk could warm up after they emerged from the freezing water of the stream!
After the 1830s, Creglingen also had its own Jewish school. Of course, you’ve already heard about Principal Pressburger. In 1929, after Pressburger’s 70th birthday, the job of teaching the few remaining students, both girls and boys, passed to Harry Katzenstein … they included his own daughters, Gertrud and Berta.
Finally, the synagogue. Since 1800, this had occupied a building right by the town wall, next to the Faulturm, the tower mentioned earlier. There was a second synagogue in Archshofen, which is now part of Creglingen. The wooden desk by the wall on your left originally stood in Creglingen’s synagogue. It belonged to Hermann Stern, a respected livestock dealer, who was killed in 1933 during an early pogrom in Creglingen. By then, his son Max had already emigrated to the United States. In 2008, Max Stern’s daughter, Judith Stern-D´Ver, read an article in a US magazine about Arthur Obermayer’s philanthropic work and his efforts in aid of Creglingen’s Jewish Museum. She contacted the foundation and subsequently heard about her grandfather’s violent death. To help with the work of remembering – and remembrance – she visited Creglingen in 2008. On the 75th anniversary of her grandfather’s death, she gave an impressive speech at a commemoration in front of the Altes Rathaus – the Old Town Hall. Judith Stern-D´Ver presented the museum with her father’s prayer book … which has now found its proper place on her grandfather’s prayer stand.
The pogrom that took place on March 25, 1933 is discussed in detail in the second chapter of our exhibition. Please walk up the stairs. Look out for the dark blue pillar with the inscription “Wege” – destinations.
Foto: © Martin Heuwinkel