Jewish Bayreuth

Synagoge Bayreuth © Norbert Miguletz

Jewish history in Bayreuth can be traced back over 800 years. Founded in the 13th century, the Jewish community currently numbers around 500 members once again.

1,700 years of Jewish life in Germany – 800 years of Jewish history in Bayreuth

An edict of the Roman Emperor Constan­tine dating back to the year 321 is the oldest survi­ving testimony to Jewish life in Germany. The history of Bayreuth’s Jewish commu­nity stret­ches back to the Middle Ages. Since the 13th century, evidence of its exis­tence can be found – but also evidence of the perse­cu­tion of Jews in Bayreuth. It was not until the era of the margra­vial couple Fried­rich and Wilhel­mine that a Jewish commu­nity could be re-estab­lished in 1759 by the court banker and coin supplier, Moses Seckel. The current major project surroun­ding Bayreuth’s recently reno­vated synagogue, the oldest working synagogue in Germany, with its mikvah and the Jewish cultural and commu­nity centre curr­ently being estab­lished is Bayreuth’s contri­bu­tion to the anni­ver­sary year, 2021.

Synagogue

The Baroque synagogue from 1760 is the oldest opera­ting synagogue in Germany. Origi­nally planned as a comedy house for the margra­vial court in 1715, the synagogue was reopened in 2018 after its restoration.

Situated shoulder to shoulder with the UNESCO World Cultural Heri­tage Site, the Margra­vial Opera House, a new ensemble is curr­ently being built around the synagogue: the modern mikvah, the ritual immersion bath, was completed in 2013 and is — accor­ding to London specia­list Rabbi Meir Posen -“the purest mikvah in Europe”, fed by an arte­sian well. Across the street, in the buil­ding of the former mint which dates from 1778, a new Jewish Cultural and Commu­nity Centre is being built. It will house museum rooms, an archive, a library, a kosher café and rooms for the Jewish commu­nity. The genizah, found in the attic of the synagogue during initial reno­va­tion work in 2010, some of whose arti­facts date back to the 16th century, will be on display in the Jewish Cultural Centre and Museum after its completion.

Inau­gu­rated in 1787, the Jewish ceme­tery in Bayreuth with its almost 1,000 graves has been used and main­tained by the Jewish commu­nity without inter­rup­tion to this day. The ceme­tery is home to a remar­kable Jugend­stil Tahara. To date, it only opens its doors to the public on 9 November for the annual comme­mo­ra­tion ceremony which is also accom­pa­nied by a guided tour. Thanks to three years of inven­tory and rese­arch work conducted by the Univer­sity of Essen’s Salomon Ludwig Stein­heim Insti­tute, pictures and descrip­tions of all of the graves are now acces­sible online in the epigra­phic database.

Further infor­ma­tion

More infor­ma­tion on the history of Jews in Bayreuth can be found in the free city map “Jewish Bayreuth” and the book of the same name.

The Bayreuth City Archive hosts a variety of infor­ma­tion mate­rial on the Jewish history of Bayreuth in digital form. In addi­tion to a biblio­graphy and an inven­tory of the archive’s exten­sive items, a chro­no­lo­gical over­view of Jewish history in Bayreuth can also be accessed here.

During the summer semester of 2021, students from the Univer­sity of Bayreuth deve­loped some multi­media content on the topic of “Jewish life and Jewish culture in Bayreuth”. This content is now being made available as an “app”. The inter­ac­tive website or app offers you insights into Jewish Bayreuth:

App on Jewish life in Bayreuth

Silenced voices in the Festival Park 

Very close to the Festival Theatre, a sizeable perma­nent exhi­bi­tion in the Festival Park comme­mo­rates nume­rous (predo­mi­nantly Jewish) festival artists who fell victim to the darkest chapter of German history in the first half of the 20th century. Here, you can find detailed biogra­phies in German and English of 29 artists who were defamed in the era of Cosima and Sieg­fried Wagner, as well as the fates of the 53 perfor­mers perse­cuted during the Third Reich, 12 of whom were murdered in the Holo­caust.

Fest­spiel­haus
Fest­spiel­hügel 1–2
95445 Bayreuth
Tel: +49 9 21 7 87 80 

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Opening hours:
Monday – Friday:
10:00 - 18:00
Saturday:
09:00 - 16:00