After Archbishop Otto von Ziegenhain expelled the Jews from Trier in 1418, they were allowed to settle there again around 1610/1620. In 1651, the cemetery was established in Weidegasse outside the city walls. The old part contains about 150 graves, the new part, which was mainly laid out during the period of assimilation, i.e. during the Napoleonic era, a little more than 350. The cemetery contains the graves of important people: the grandparents and great-grandparents of Karl Marx, whose names were Hallevi on his father's side and Lwöf on his mother's side, furthermore the great-grandparents of Marcel Proust, Meir Bernkastel, as well as the grave of Dr. Joseph Kahn. This famous rabbi originally came from Wawern and founded many synagogues, including the main synagogue in Zuckerbergstraße in 1859.
The gravestones for the individual occupational groups of the Jews are particularly interesting, as is the important symbolism: for example, torches pointing downwards because the light of life is extinguished, poppy capsules for eternal sleep or the very frequent depictions of roses representing eternal silence. There is also the tomb of a Freemason with the triangle, which in the Catholic Church symbolises the Holy Trinity with the eye of God, but in this case refers to a lodge member. Beyond that, other curiosities can be found.
When converting the dates on the tombstones, one must bear in mind that the days of death are always given according to the so-called Lesser Chronology. The starting point is the Jewish year 5000, which corresponds to the Christian year 1240. In addition, only the last three digits, i.e. the hundreds, tens and ones, are given. It is therefore necessary to add 1240 to the number given in order to arrive at our usual dating today.
Author: Peter Szemere
Editorial staff: Prof. Dr. Frank G. Hirschmann
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