Excerpt from "GEPPO - DER STADTBOTE" – Edition 5, Volume 5 – Wednesday, February 2, 2000

Treasures of the Göppingen Museum

The Crown of the Torah – A Testimony of the Jewish Community of Jebenhausen

Whenever a museum expands its collection, then this usually comes about through purchases or donations. At the end of the 1960s a new entrant was added to the museum collection, but this through the most unusual means: the object, wrapped in packaging without any notices or comments, was given to the city hall. The bearer of the object remained anonymous. Out from the packaging emerged a plate inscribed with Hebrew lettering. It was assumed that this plate was a witness to those in the Göppingen Jewish community members persecuted, expelled, and annihilated during the time of national socialism. Because such Ten Commandment plates were used frequently in southwest German Jewish communities to crown the torah shrine, it was then concluded that the plate found its origins from the Göppingen Synagogue, was saved from the rubble created by the synagogue’s destruction in 1938 and was thereafter preserved.

First two decades it took, before the history of the plate could be further illuminated. While researching for the exhibition of the currently under construction Jewish Museum, the city archives received a picture of the inside of the Jebenhausen Synagogue from South Africa. The view of the photograph went from the main entrance to the eastern wall, before which the tora shrine once stood. It was this shrine that was crowned by the already received plate. In 1804 the Jebenhausen Synagogue was opened and, with the dissolution of the Jebenhausen Jewish community, was closed in 1899. Important items furnishing the synagogue— like the torah shrine and torah scrolls preserved therein, relocated to the Göppingen Synagogue by suggestion of Rabbi Dr. Tänzer. The rest of the story of the plate could have happened as was first suggested.

Crafted arguably in 1804, the plate stems from the Jebenhausen Synagogue and bears mainly two Hebrew letters, which is the abbreviation for "Crown of the Torah." Directly under the abbreviation in five rows stand the first two words of the Ten Commandments. Between the second and third row there is an empty space—most likely a result of destruction brought by the "Reichspogromnacht" (pogrom night of the empire).

The torah crown is displayed today together with the only two known photographs of the interior and exterior views of the Jebenhausen Synagogue in the Jewish Museum. Due to a private tip, it would nearly have been worth it to acquire an additional testimony to the religious life of the Jebenhausen Jewish community: in a Jerusalem antique shop the velvet curtains belonging to the torah shine standing in Göppingen were up for sale. Unfortunately it was not possible to bring this testimony of history back to its original location.

© Archiv und Museen der Stadt Göppingen