Würzburg Before the Holocaust
The Jewish Teachers Seminary (Israelitische Lehrerbildungsanstalt) in Würzburg
In 1856 a Jewish primary school was opened in Würzburg; by 1877 it had 170 students, and suffered from a lack of teachers for the religious subjects. To solve this problem Rabbi Isaac Dov HaLevi Bamberger, together with four other Bavarian rabbis, initiated the establishment of a seminary for Jewish teachers in Würzburg. They petitioned the Bavarian Government on the matter, and a detailed plan for the institution was sent to the king. In 1864 the Teachers Seminary opened, providing its first 12 students with dormitory facilities. A year later the number of students had nearly doubled, reaching 21; by 1878 the school boasted 164 graduates, who became teachers working across Germany. Toward the turn of the century the seminary and dormitory were transferred to a new building.
Rabbi Nathan Bamberger, who assumed the position of the Rabbi of Würzburg after the death of his father, continued his father’s work. He headed the Teachers Seminary and increased the scope of its activities. In 1919 he passed away, to be succeeded by Rabbi Dr. Sigmund (Shimon) Hanover. Rabbi Dr. Hanover instituted pedagogical seminars for teachers who were not enrolled as fulltime students in the Teachers Seminary, in which Jewish teachers were invited to learn the Hebrew language and deepen their knowledge in Judaic studies. Hundreds of Jewish teachers from across Bavaria and Germany took part in these seminars.
By 1914 the Teachers Seminary had some 400 graduates, working as teachers and educators in Bavarian Jewish communities and elsewhere in Germany. In 1914 the Teachers Seminary was given the right to hold governmental matriculation examinations. From 1926 it gave courses on the instruction of the Hebrew language, which had become a standard part of the curriculum in all Jewish schools in Germany.
In 1919 Jacob Stoll was appointed as head of the seminary, a position which he held until the institution was liquidated by the Nazis in 1938. The rabbi of the institution was Rabbi Jakob Yekutiel Neubauer, whose house became a spiritual and educational center for the Jewish students in the city. When Rabbi Neubauer emigrated to Holland, he was succeeded by Rabbi Joseph Unna, who in turn emigrated to Palestine in 1934, and was succeeded by Rabbi Shimon Weiss.
In 1931 the Jewish school of Höchberg, which contained six classes, was transferred to Würzburg. The school was incorporated into the Teachers Seminary, and the two institutions were housed together in a new building. Some 60 students attended the Teachers Seminary on an annual basis.
During the Nazi regime, the National Representative Body for the German Jews (Reichsvertretung der deutschen Juden) covered most of the costs of the Teachers Seminary. This institution donated the money needed for scholarships for the continuing education of teachers, and, together with the Bavarian union of Jewish communities, organized the Hebrew language courses which took place in the building of the Teachers Seminary.