Jewish Congregation of Hamelin
Hamelin (Hameln), Germany is best known as the home of the famous “Pied Piper” and of Glückel of Hameln, the Jewish female chronicler of daily life in mid-17th–early 18th century Germany. The town supported a small but vibrant Jewish community for over 400 years until Kristallnacht or Pogrommnacht, November 9, 1938, when the synagogue was destroyed and the Jewish population decimated.
Jüdische Gemeinde Hameln, the Reform Jewish Community of Hamelin, founded in 1997 by Rachel Dohme, Polina Pelts, and a small group of Russian immigrants, is the first organized Jewish community to be established in Hamelin since the Shoah. The congregation has grown to include over 200 congregants, almost all of whom are recent Russian Jewish émigrés. JGH is a member of the Union of Progressive Jews in Germany, the World Union of Progressive Judaism, and the Central Council of Jews of Germany. Close working relationships with the local government, cultural and church groups, and the Society for Christian-Jewish Solidarity have contributed to the congregation’s success.
JGH is a dynamic congregation that has made important strides in revitalizing Jewish life in Hamelin. In 1999 the congregation was successful in having Hamelin’s historic Jewish cemetery, desecrated during WWII, reopended for use. A new, larger Jewish community cemetery, administrated by the city, was dedicated in November 2001. The community built the first newly constructed Reform synagogue in post-war Germany. The synagogue stands on the very ground the town’s synagogue stood until its destruction on November 9, 1938. The new synagogue was dedicated on February 20, 2011. See Dedication photos.
JGH is proud to have its own rabbi, Dr. Ulrike Offenberg, who is in residence with the community bi-monthly and serves as its spiritual leader and advisor. Dr. Ulrike Offenberg is successor to our Rabbi Emerita Irit Shillor, who served the congregation for 15 years. The congregation observes and celebrates the holidays and Shabbat with rabbinic assistance, augmented by lay leaders.