Guide to the Papers of Isidor Kiefer (1871-1962)

AR 1894

Processed by Matthew Johnson and Ilse Turnheim

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305



© 2013 Leo Baeck Institute. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Dianne Ritchey in July 2013. Description is in English.
May 2016: dao links added by Emily Andresini.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Kiefer, Isidor, 1871-1962
Title: Isidor Kiefer Collection
Dates:bulk 1922-1962
Abstract: The Isidor Kiefer Collection consists of documents compiled by Isidor Kiefer on the history of the Jewish community in Worms, including Kiefer's own research, original documents and copies. A significant part of the collection is dedicated to the history and reconstruction of the synagogue, cemetery and Jewish museum in Worms.
Languages: The collection is in German, with some English and Hebrew.
Quantity: 1 linear foot.
Identification: AR 1894
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Isidor Kiefer was born on May 26, 1871, in Worms, Germany. He was a tin manufacturer and chairman of the Jewish community in Worms until 1934. He married Else Kiefer in 1903 and had two children, Anne and Herta. Kiefer immigrated to the United States via Belgium in 1934. He conducted extensive research on the history of the Jewish community in Worms and was involved in efforts to restore the synagogue, cemetery and Jewish museum in Worms after the Holocaust. He died in New York City on January 27, 1962.

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Scope and Content Note

The Isidor Kiefer Collection consists of papers of this leader of the Jewish community in Worms. The bulk of the material is on the Jewish community in Worms, one of the oldest Jewish communities in Germany. Included is information on the history of the Jewish community from as early as the 11th century to the 1930s; much of this information is found in Kiefer's own research and writings, which he often collected in scrapbooks. Original documents from the 20th century are included, as are reproductions of numerous archival documents from the 18th and 19th centuries. Series I includes scrapbooks, documents on the general history of the Jewish community and the administration of the Jewish community in Worms, and documents on the Jewish Museum in Worms. Of particular interest is a copy of the "Judenregister" from 1739-1814. Series II consists of material related to the synagogue and Jewish cemetery in Worms, including a scrapbook, photographs, sketches and articles. Series I and II also include information on the reconstruction of Jewish history and on the reopening of the synagogue and cemetery in Worms after the Holocaust. Series III consists of various documents, including various writings and correspondence of the Kiefer family in New York City and a large collection of newspaper clippings, mostly on Jewish life in Worms. Also included is the old item-level inventory by Ilse Turnheim.

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The collection is divided into the following three series:

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:
Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011

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Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Related Material

The LBI Archives and Library contain collections and books pertaining to Isidor Kiefer and to the Worms Jewish community.

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Separated Material

During processing a 1934 edition of the periodical Zeitschrift für die Geschichte der Juden in Deutschland and a copy of Der alte israelitische Friedhof zu Worms a. Rh. by Max Levy were removed to the library from folder 8. Photocopies of the title pages are included. Photographs were removed to the LBI Archives.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Isidor Kiefer Collection; AR 1894; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

This collection's arrangement is based on the collection's former item-level inventory written by Ilse Turnheim in 1962; the ordering of contents in individual folders follows as closely as possible the original ordering of Turnheim. The former series II, III, VI and VII are now series I. The former series IV and V are now series II. The former series I, IX, X and the remainders of VIII and XI are now series III. The contents of the series have been further subdivided into multiple folders by prominent topic.

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Other Finding Aid

A thirteen-page inventory that lists each item in the collection is available and has been retained in series III, folder seven. Items in this inventory include numbers that refer to each item of the collection.

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Container List

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection. Follow the links to access the digitized materials.


Series I: General History and Administration of Worms Jewish Community, undated, 1922-1958

This series is in German.
0.4 linear feet.


Scope and Content:

Series I holds documents that pertain to the history and administration of the Worms Jewish community. The first folder of the series contains material on the organization of the Worms Jewish community, including reproductions of documents from the 19th century and original documents from the 20th century. The reproduced documents include information on the administration of the community, including the synagogue and hospital. Also included are genealogical materials on the Oppenheim family in the 17th and 18th centuries, including the famous chief rabbi of Prague David Oppenheim, born in Worms in 1664. Documents from the 1920s-1930s include invitations and programs for special events of "Der Vorstand der Israelitischen Religionsgemeinde Worms" (The Executive Board of the Jewish Community Worms). Documents from after World War II largely deal with the reconstruction of the synagogue and reopening of the Jewish cemetery, as well as with more general affairs pertaining to Jewish life after the Holocaust; many of these documents are in the form of correspondence between former residents of Worms in France and the United States. Documents pertaining to the Dalberg Lodge of the B'nai B'rith organization are included in folder two, including lists of members and programs for events and concerts.

Folders three and four contain documents pertaining to the history of the Jewish community in Worms. Much of this material consists of Kiefer's own research and writings, sometimes compiled in scrapbooks. Kiefer covers the general history from the eleventh century to the early 20th century, including more specific research on the expulsion of the Jews from Worms in 1615. Kiefer made heavy use of city and Jewish archives in Worms and reproduced many documents from their collections, including a copy of the "Judenregister" of the years 1739-1814. Folder five contains documents on the Jewish Museum in Worms, co-founded by Kiefer, including a scrapbook and an inventory of the museum holdings from 1924 and 1932.

11Administration of Worms Jewish Communityundated, 1923-1956
13History of Jews in Wormsundated, 1922-1958
14History of Jews in Worms, scrapbooksundated, 1923
15Jewish Museum in Wormsundated, 1924, 1932
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Series II: Synagogue and Jewish Cemetery, Worms, undated, 1927-1954

This series is in German, with some Hebrew.
0.4 linear feet.


Scope and Content:

Series II holds documents pertaining to the Jewish cemetery and the synagogue in Worms. Folder six contains writings on Jewish burial sites, including the cemetery in Worms, and lists of names with some information on those buried, as well as various newspaper clippings pertaining to the cemetery. Also known as "Heiliger Sand," the cemetery is one of the oldest in Europe, dating from the first half of the eleventh century, and largely escaped desecration during the Third Reich. Folders one and two contain a large amount of materials on the synagogue in Worms, including documents on Jewish ritual, the activities of the synagogue, the history of the synagogue and efforts to reconstruct the synagogue after the Holocaust. The Worms Synagogue, also known as Rashi Shul, was originally built in the eleventh century; it was damaged in the 14th and 17th centuries and was destroyed during Kristallnacht. It was reconstructed in 1961, partially following the expertise and guidance of Kiefer. A piece of a Torah scroll found among the debris is included in the collection. Also included are drafts of Kiefer’s lecture "1841: Ein Wendepunkt in der Baugeschichte unserer alten Synagoge" ("1841: A Turning Point in the Building History of our old Synagogue"), as well as other writings on the history of the synagogue, newspaper clippings, various correspondence and lectures. Folder three contains a scrapbook compiled by Kiefer with a detailed history of the synagogue, including numerous photographs and sketches.

16Jewish Cemetery in Wormsundated, 1927-1957
21Synagogue in Wormsundated, 1930-1961
22Synagogue in Worms, continuedundated, 1930-1961
23Synagogue in Worms, Scrapbook1954
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Series III: Other Papers, 1902-1972

This series is in German, with some English.
0.2 linear feet.


Scope and Content:

Series III includes various documents, including correspondence and writings from the 1940s through 1970s, assorted newspaper clippings and the collection’s old inventory. Folder four includes correspondence and official documents of the Kiefer family. It includes documents related to the reconstruction of the synagogue in Worms after the Holocaust and to legal questions regarding ownership of the surviving Jewish collections from Worms. Organizations involved include the French branch of the Jewish Trust Corporation and the Jewish Museum in New York. Some of the correspondence of Else Kiefer is also included. Also included are correspondences from the prewar period, evidencing Kiefer's prominent role in the Worms Jewish community. Copies of Kiefer's 1941 essay "The Need for Tolerance" and documents pertaining to the marriage of Isidor and Else Kiefer from 1902 are also included. Folders five and six contain numerous newspaper clippings on the Worms Jewish community. Folder seven includes the old item-level inventory by Ilse Turnheim. Folder eight includes various documents and photographs, including two small pamphlets on Worms.

24Kiefer Family Writings1902-1962
25Newspaper Clippings1924-1932
26Newspaper Clippings, continuedundated, 1924-1960
27 Old Inventory1962, 1972
28Various – Correspondence, Pamphlets, Clippings and Other Papersundated, 1924-1965
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