Jewish liberal congregation Emet weShalom in North Hesse

The Jewish liberal congregation Emet weShalom in North Hesse (Hebrew: Emet weSchalom, Truth and Peace) is a progressive Jewish congregation with its home in Felsberg nd regional offerings in and for North Hesse.

The Felsberg Synagogue Center will be the religious home for Emet weSchalom (the Jewish liberal congregation in North Hesse) once a week and also for the holidays. Emet weShalom has been holding Jewish services, study hours and holidays with those who are interested in liberal Judaism since 1995

Christopher Willing, the chairman of the association, Save the Felsberg Synagogue, is a member of Emet weShalom.

Emet weShalom was founded in the fall of 1995 in Kassel. It was one of the first liberal Jewish congregations in Germany after the National Socialists and also one of the founding members of the Union of Progressive Jews in Germany.. Judaism experienced a period of intense growth in the 1990s because of an influx of Jews from the former Soviet Union. This development led to a revival of progressive Judaism in North Hesse. Although the majority of Jews before National Socialism were liberal Jews, Emet weShalom is today the only liberal Jewish congregation in Hesse.[1] Between 2001 and 2010, the congregation was in Gudensberg and since 2010 in Felsberg.

Events and meetings are held in the congregational rooms in Felsberg as well as in a private home. Services are held regularly in German and Hebrew as well as occasionally in Russian and English. In accord with the liberal tradition, men and women have equal status.

In addition to services, the congregation offers Hebrew courses and lectures [2] and also has an extensive Jewish library.

In October, 2010 the congregation, Temple Israel from Dayton, Ohio, which is also a liberal Jewish congregation, decided to donate a Torah to Emet weShalom. Temple Israel wanted to remember its German roots and also to strengthen liberal Judaism in Germany. [3] A delegation from Temple Israel visited in June, 2011 for the ceremonial presentation of the Torah. Another Torah is on permanent loan from the Fritzlar Cathedral and so, the congregation has three Torahs.

Roots and predecessors of Emet weShalom

The liberal Jewish congregation Emet weShalom follows in a long and rich Jewish tradition in North Hesse. Far and away the largest percentage of the Jews living there until the Shoah belonged to the liberal tradition.

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Rabbi Israel Jacobson (1768-1828)

During the time of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Westphalia (1807-1813), Felsberg was the administrative center of the canton of Felsberg. In the Kingdom of Westphalia in 1808, the Jewish denomination was given the same rights as the Christian. Rabbi Israel Jacobson was made president of the Israelite consistory under Jerome Bonaparte. He moved from Seesen to Kassel so that he could realize his vision of an enlightened assimilated Jewish population within the political spectrum. He opened a liberal Jewish prayer house and supported the forming of a seminar (consistory school Kassel) for the training of Jewish teachers. North Hesse, as a part of the Kingdom of Westphalia, is the birthplace of the liberal Jewish movement, worldwide one of the largest branches within Judaism and until the Holocaust, the largest branch in Germany. It is probable that Rabbi Israel Jacobson visited the Westphalia canton Felsberg in his position as president of the Israelite consistory.

HOME Synagogue 1938 black & white

Synagogue 1948

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Synagogue Summer 2013, leerstehend, zuletzt als Pizzeria benutzt.

A Jewish community existed in Felsberg until 1938/39. The origin of a vibrant Jewish community in Felsberg goes back to the 18th century. But some Jews lived in the city even in the 16th century. The congregation had a stone synagogue, school, mikve, and cemetery. Visit our website Jüdisches Felsberg.

At present, the Jewish congregation in Felsberg, Emet weSchalom, is trying to acquire the preserved and empty Felsberg synagogue.

Jewish traces are found in North Hesse: in Kassel, on the site of the newly built unified synagogue, stood the liberal synagogue built by Albrecht Rosengarten until 1938. It was the synagogue of the clearly largest Jewish congregation in North Hesse. East of Kassel, in Eschwege, stood one of the oldest Jewish communities in Germany, dating back to 1250. “The majority of the congregation was liberal, a small group was strictly orthodox.” [4] In Fritzlar the liberal Jewish congregation “New Religion Society” was founded in 1849 with its own elementary school. A reform group “New German Fellow Believers” was formed in Marburg in 1848.

In addition to the congregations named, there were 91 smaller Jewish congregations in North Hesse in 1933 with approximately 4117 members.


World Union for Progressive Judaism

Union progressiver Juden in Deutschland


Jüdische Liberale Gemeinde Emet weSchalom Nordhessen


Individual evidence:

  1. Liste der Gemeinden der Union Progressiver Juden

  2. Jüdisches Leben in Deutschland – heute in: HNA vom 23. November 2010

  3. October Newsletter in: The Temple Tablet 2010

  4. „Die Jüdischen Gemeinden in Hessen”, S.169“ by Paul Arnsberg, Frankfurt am Main: Societäts-Verlag, 1971.