HISTORY AND BACKGROUND
Leipzig is a city in Saxony, Germany, and has historically been a centre for Jews. Jews are first mentioned in Leipzig at the end of the 12th century; an organized community with a synagogue and a school existed from the second quarter of the 13th century. Its central location attracted Jewish traders from all over Europe to the Trade Fair. The fair regulations of Leipzig of 1268 guaranteed protection to all merchants, and moved the day of the market from Saturday to Friday for the benefit of the Jewish merchants. A permanent Jewish settlement was founded in 1710 when Gerd Levi, mintmaster and purveyor, received rights of residence. The number of "privileged" Jewish households allowed residence in Leipzig grew to seven by the middle of the 18th century. However, the Jewish community as an officially state-recognised organisation was established only in 1847 and only by then Jews were allowed to settle in Leipzig without any restrictions. After 1869, with the abolition of all anti-Jewish restrictions, the number of Jews increased greatly by immigration from Galicia and Poland.
Though most Jews were traveling merchants, in 1935 - less than a century after its establishment - the Jewish community in Leipzig consisted of 11,564 members, making it the sixth-largest Jewish community in Germany and the largest one in Saxony. The city's mayor from 1930 to 1937, Carl Friedrich Goerdeler, although being national-conservative, was a noted opponent of the Nazi regime in Germany. He resigned in 1937 when, in his absence, his Nazi deputy ordered the destruction of the city's statue of Felix Mendelssohn. On Kristallnacht in 1938, 553 Jewish men were arrested, centres of Jewish communal life were destroyed as well as one of the city's most architecturally significant buildings, the 1855 Moorish Revival Leipzig synagogue. The deportations from Leipzig began on January 21, 1942 until February 13th 1945 when the last 220 Jews were deported to Theresienstadt. By 1945 there were only 15 Jews remaining in the city at which point 200 came back from Theresienstadt to form the Jewish community once again. In 1989 the community numbered 30 members, but as a result of the immigration from the former Soviet Union, it began to grow. In 2012 the Jewish community numbered 1300 members.
- Currently, Leipzig has the most active Jewish community in Central Germany. The one remaining synagogue to survive the war (the Brody synagogue) holds the only daily Minyan in Central Germany.
- In year 2006, a Mikveh for women was built.
- In Leipzig there are two Jewish cemeteries. The new cemetery has been used since 1927. In April 1972, construction began for the renewal of the celebration hall, together with the refurbishment of the religious-ritual space.
- Kashrut: In the community there is a Kosher store where people can purchase products that can not be bought in local stores such as meat, wine, cheese, and more. As of 2012 the local Gemeinderabbiner (community Rabbi), Rabbi Zsolt Balla, gives kosher supervision to one of the bakeries that comes to the Tuesday and Friday farmers market, so the community can benefit from Kosher bread.
- Education: For over 10 years there has been a Jewish play group and kindergarten in Leipzig run by the Leipzig Jewish community. The age range is between 2 to 6, at which point they go to first grade. In addition to the toddlers, Jewish students also have a Jewish infrastructure. In 2005 the Ronald S. Lauder foundation opened the Tora Zentrum, a place where Jewish students from Leipzig and the surrounding region can come in order to meet other Jewish students and learn about Judaism. The Tora Zentrum organizes weekly classes, Shabbat meals, and social events and activities for Jewish students between ages 18 and 32. In 2013 the Tora Zentrum changed its name to Nezach - Jüdisches Mitteldeutschland.
- In year 2007, the Ariowitsch-Haus, a Jewish community center was founded. The Ariowitsch-Haus serves as a center for Jewish culture and heritage through holiday celebrations, Israel-related programming, and Jewish education for the general community.