Thursday, December 11, 2014

Genealogy tour - Jewish history in Alsace around Scherwiller and Selestat

Over the centuries jewish people have lived and worked in Alsace. We find synagogues in cities like Strasbourg and for example Selestat and Scherwiller. Today not all the synagogues are still in function anymore. The one in Scherwiller for example is used as a place for the local fire brigade.

Over time the jews were chased, also in Alsace, like in many places in Europe. In times that there was the black plague for example, the jewish population was blamed and they were expelled from the towns. Recently the second World War left deep scars.

In the early 1900's and after the great wars, many jewish families moved to the United States. Their ofspring is often interested in where there forefathers came from.

A couple of years ago a big jewish family originating from Alsace, organised a huge family reunion near Selestat. I was contacted in 2014 by a member of this family that sadly could not make it to this reunion event back then. She wanted to see Alsace for herself though and decided to visit this year with her husband and daughter.

We prepared the tour over here. We looked up adresses and found out about locations. We contacted the rabbi working in Selestat. We managed to organize a meeting with a local person via him who had the keys of the synagogue and could show us around at the premises.

On D-Day we drove through the Scherwiller area and in the afternoon went to the Selestat synagogue. Our contact who opened the gate told us he belonged to a family that had had a big reunion a couple of years ago..... He had been present with his little boy. Wow ... this meant that the lady just had met a distant family member of hers! He had been part of the reunion were she couldn't be present.

We were shown around and saw everything. Afterwards the family was presented a book about the history of the jews and the synagogue of Selestat. Needless to say that everybody was very happy and impressed.
Later in the afternoon we went to the jewish cemetry outside Selestat. At the reunion a couple of years ago, the family had placed a memory plate there. Finally "my" family could see it too and touch the plate themselves.

The circle was round. What a great adventure!
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