1146 tombstones stand in the jewish cemetery in pfaffenhausen, which was established around the year 1580. And it has already become a tradition that district curator cornelia mence organizes a tour every year in september. And so this time, too, almost 30 people interested in cultural history or local history met at the tahara house (leichenwaschhaus), built in 1877, to be guided by her on the 1.2 hectares of rough hillside terrain.
400 years ago, there were only a few people of the jewish faith in the predominantly catholic villages, so they could not afford their own cemetery everywhere. Around 1580, the jewish community of hammelburg bought a house that was later extended to 12,000 square meters.100 square meters of grouted land in pfaffenhausen, which served for centuries as an association cemetery for burying the dead from 26 communities, i.E. Far beyond today’s county boundaries.
Although the cemetery was jewish property, a fee had to be paid for each burial, first to the official seat in hammelburg, later to the municipality of pfaffenhausen. In the 18. Century was three gulden for adults and one gulden for each child. Mence: "at that time a mason earned five guilders per month, a schoolmaster only 20 guilders per year." it was not until later that larger jewish communities were formed in the cities, so that separate cemeteries were established there – as in bad kissingen in 1817.
Only inaccessible and therefore difficult to farm land was sold to the jews for their cemeteries. "Flachen, which nobody could use", as cornelia mence put it during the tour. The pfaffenhausen cemetery is also located on a steep slope.
All tombstones stand with the hebraic inscription to the east. Newer stones show the german text on the back side, only the newest ones both versions on the front side. Many of the stones are decorated with ornaments, the meaning of which was read out by some of the visitors on the basis of texts distributed by cornelia mence. Thus, cans or amphorae refer to the levitical descent of the person buried there, two hands with spread fingers symbolize the aaronite blessing, the butterfly stands for metamorphosis and thus for the resurrection of the soul, and the hourglass for the transience of life.
Every now and then, instead of a gravestone, a broken saule can be found in the cemetery, a reminder of the life that was abruptly interrupted. If one recognizes the signs alpha and omega on a gravestone, actually a typical symbol of christianity, it may have been a probably cheaper, because of the stonemason already serienmabig prefabricated gravestone, said to it the kreisheimatpflegerin.
Mence not only gave information about the symbolism, but also told little stories about some of the more famous people who are buried in the jewish cemetery. She read in front of the grave of westheim community leader benjamin hirschenberger, who died on 18 march. October 1904 died, the report from the jewish newspaper "the israelite" from 3. November, detailing the funeral in the presence of family and friends, the administration and the fire department.
Gravestones from the early 1600s are unlikely to be found in pfaffenhausen today. Jewish burial grounds were never allowed to be dismantled, but it was necessary to "raise" them after decades due to lack of space, reported county historic preservation officer mence. Even today, at the western end, the oldest part of the cemetery, where the entrance and the first tahara house once stood, one can see a broad, green earthen mound without gravestones, which indicates such an addition.
But even the oldest of the gravestones still standing today are so weathered that the inscriptions are no longer legible. Moreover, it is difficult for today’s experts to translate the old hebraic language. This is one of the reasons why there is no documentation of the pfaffenhausen cemetery and its gravestones until today. "It cost over 1000 euros per stone – to dismantle, restore, translate the inscription and replace it", treasures mence.
1146 jewish gravestones still stand in the 440-year-old cemetery in paffenhausen, whose further use was banned by the national socialists in 1938. Many of those buried there are forgotten today. Even some of its tombstones have sunk halay into the ground.