The first Jewish quarter in Rothenburg was located in the heart of the city in what is now the Kapellenplatz (Chapel Square). The first synagogue was located on the Kapellenplatz in a spot that is now a parking place. In 1390, the first Synagogue in Rothenburg was converted into a Catholic Church called the Marienkapelle (Chapel of St. Mary) when the Jews were banished from the city. It was torn down in 1804. The second synagogue in Rothenburg was located on the Shrannen Platz where there is now a parking lot.
When the Jews were banished from the city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber in 1390, they settled just outside the city walls and the new Jewish quarter was located on the Judengasse. When the city expanded, this area was then located inside the city walls. In the photo above, the Judengasse is in the foreground and St. Jacob's Church is in the background.
The photo below shows the Weisserturm (White Tower) and the Jewish Dance House which adjoins it. The White Tower was part of the original fortifications before the city expanded. The Jewish Dance House is a reconstruction. On March 31, 1945, American bombs destroyed 40% of Rothenburg including much of the city wall and the Jewish quarter. There were 39 civilians killed by the Allied bombs, including 18 women, 12 men and 9 children.
The photo below was taken on the Galgengasse (Gallows Lane) looking northeast towards the Galgentor (Gallows gate). Part of the Jewish Dance hall can be seen on the left. This building was later used as a shelter for the poor, called the Seelhaus (Soul House).
The photo above shows a sign in front of the building next to the White Tower, which reads in English: "Jewish Dance Hall, built in 1613, burned up in 1945, built again in 1953. Rabbi Meir ben Baruch little Garden. Rabbi Meir ben Baruch was the best known Talmud Scholar of his time; he lived from 1255 to 1286 in Rothenburg; buried at Worms."
In 1286, the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph I took away the political freedom of the Jews in all the German states, and imposed special taxes on them. Rabbi Meir Ben Baruch attempted to lead a group of Jews to Palestine but he was arrested and held as a prisoner in a fortress in Alsace, which was a German state at that time. The story is that he was arrested because his attempted exodus from the Holy Roman Empire would have deprived the Emperor of income from the special taxes. He refused to be freed for ransom for fear that this would lead to the kidnapping of other rabbis for ransom. He died in prison on May 2, 1293. In 1307, a ransom was paid for his body so that he could be buried in Worms, the city where he was born around 1215.
In 1298, the Jews were driven out of Rothenburg by the Christians; on the 700th anniversary of this pogrom in 1998, a Memorial to the murdered Jews of Rothenburg was placed in the Castle garden.
The next two photos below show the Little Garden with a Memorial Stone in the right hand corner. The street behind the wall is the Judengasse (Jewish Lane) which curves around to intersect Klingengasse, as shown in the photo at the top of this page.
In the background of the photo above is the city wall on the north side. Behind the camera is the Shrannen Platz which is the former location of the second Jewish Synagogue in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
The tombstones embedded in the wall, as shown in the photos above, were salvaged from the former Jewish cemetery which is now a parking lot. This area of Rothenburg ob der Tauber was destroyed by Allied bombs during World War II. There are more than two dozen tombstones from this cemetery in the basement of the Imperial City Museum, as shown in the photo below.
Today, there is no Jewish quarter in Rothenburg, but the photo below, taken in October 2006, shows a Star of David over the window of a house which faces the city wall near the Old Forge.