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              Ulmbach, A Jewish Journey

                                 By Stanley H. Fischer

       Ulmbach is a tiny village less than one hour drive from Frank-
       furt A.M., Germany. The first recorded mention of a Jew in   Photo 2
       Ulmbach was an official invoice from David, the Jew’s son, a
       merchant, in 1597.
       Communal Jewish history in Ulmbach commenced in the 1700’s.
       Earliest Jews to the village frequently had no surnames. Maier,
       Mayses (Moses), Juda, Jacob were my ancestors who lived in
       Ulmbach and were born in the 1700s.

       A ruling was decreed in 1787 that every Jew in German lands
       was required to adopt or if they already had one to maintain
       and affirm, a German surname. Names derived from the Hebrew
       were no longer permitted and needed to be legally changed.
       As the ruling predated the unification of Germany, it was not
       enforced everywhere. The Grand Duchy of Frankfurt which
       included Ulmbach did not require the adoption of a German
       family name until September 26, 1822 for the year 1824. Jews   Photo 3                  Photo 1
       would take names of their cities, regions, occupations, ani-
       mals, behavior or appearance characteristics.  Common German
       origin names today include Berlin, Frankfurt, Cassel, Kaufman   agreed to meet and would try to locate a resident who had some
       (buyer), Hess, Wolf(f), Nussbaum and Klein.  It was customary   historical knowledge. We, including our four children who accom-
       for children to be named after deceased grandparents.     panied us, made an appointment and met a village elder, Horst
                                                                 Kunz, who had some records of the Jews, (see Photo 2) including
       By January 1824, four Jewish families qualified to pay the Jew   a list of Jews who lived in Ulmbach in the 1930’s and left at that
       tax of 2 florins per 1000 florin assets to the Grand Duchy of   time mostly to Frankfurt.  Photo 3 is a partial list of the 43 Jews,
       Fulda: my great, great, great grandfather, Maier Nussbaum   (many of the names are relatives including my mother, Hedwig
       (1773-1853), my great, great, great grandfather Jacob Hain (1778-  Strauss, uncles, cousins and grandparents). According to the
       1848), Felber Busseck and Moses Ox.                       Federal Archives of Germany at least ten of the Ulmbach Jews
                                                                 were subsequently murdered.
       By 1826 there were purportedly 25 Jewish residents.  A letter
       dated October 15, 1834 states that the community had their own   Villagers had encouraged them to leave and purchased their
       synagogue (most likely in a home) and taught their children.  homes and property. The elders advised us that only 25% of the
                                                                 village in 1933 voted for National Socialism whereas nationally
       By resolution of the electoral government of the province of   the vote was over 43%.
       Hanau on September 11, 1834, the people of Ulmbach were per-
       mitted to set up their own synagogue community. Jacob Hain   With the assistance of the priest and two elders we toured the
       was appointed the first synagogue elder. As an independent   village and saw the synagogue. See Photo 4.  The synagogue
       congregation, the members were obliged to keep their own   was sold for 1500 Reich Marks in 1935 to a tailor and still stands.
       treasury and synagogue accounts. Jacob Hain was appointed   The Torahs and religious objects were sent to the City of Hanau
       the first auditor of the records and finances. He was succeeded   where they were destroyed Kristalnacht, November 9/10, 1938.
       after his death by the election of my great, great, grandfather,
       Abraham Hain (1818-1875).  See Photo 1.                   Behind the synagogue was “the women’s bath,” the rear of it on
                                                                 the Ulmbach stream. See Photo 5.   Next to the Mikvah was the
       By 1869 the community acquired a home with a garden on the   teacher’s house. The teacher supplemented his income by using
       Ulmbach stream behind it as its larger new synagogue.     an annexed barn for cows. See Photo 6.   Prior to the acquisition
                                                                 of the teacher’s house, the religious instruction was by a teach-
       Ulmbach has no government buildings, no fire department, no   er who also served in the community of Hindersteinau.
       police, no municipal services. It is only a few blocks long and a
       few blocks wide and today has perhaps 1900 residents whereas it   Advertisement in the magazine “Der Israelit” on March 10, 1884.
       had approximately 1100 residents in 1800.  By 1861 43 Jews (3.8% of   “Announcement: The position of a joint religion teacher for
       1,143), by 1885 (5.2% of 1,163), 1905 (4.8% of 1,170) lived in Ulmbach.   the synagogue communities of Hindersteinau and Ulmbach
                                                                   to be filled. The salary is 800 marks (600 from Hindersteinau
       In September 2022, the only person from the village I could   and 200 from Ulmbach) as a fixed salary annually in addition
       reach was the local Catholic priest, Pastor Samuel Rabu, who   to free official accommodation in Hintersteinau and 4 meters

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