Fifteen million years ago a meteorite has fallen in western Bavaria, Germany.
The impact of the meteorite has caused a large crater, 25 km in diameter.
The city of Nördlingen is located in the middle of the crater, which is called therefore The Nördlinger Ries.
In the age of this crater there was a wood glade, where shepherds used to pasture their sheep. The old German word for glade was "hard". This particular had many stones, which resulted from the impact of the meteorite. So it was called the "stone glade", which was in German "Steinhard".
This was the original spelling of the name of the village Steinhart.
I am indebt for this and other beautiful local stories to Frau Birgit Ammesdörfer, a school teacher, born in the village and living today in Nördlinger.
This a story completely different from the stone peas of Steinhardt, Sobernheim, which you can read here.
We must remind that there was no Jewish population in Steinhardt, Sobernheim. So we owe or surname to the Bavarian village.
In 1560, six Jewish families lived under the protection of the lord of the land, Georg Daniel von Gundolzheim. This was the year when they were forced by order of Count Ludwig to leave the place. This expulsion was only temporary because in 1589 there were again Jews in Steinhart.
According to the registries of the city of Nördlinger, the following Jews lived in the village between 1589 and 1600 Josep, David, Lazarus, Isak Simon, Mossy, Liebmann, Samson, Jakob, Löw, Samuel und Benedikt.
In 1625, there where 98 Jews living in Steinhardt, belonging to 23 families, of which 4 "belonged" to the Freiherr von Crailsheim, and the remaining 19 to the Freiherr von Wildenstein.
In 1797 there were 17 Jewish homes in Steinhardt.
As we have seen elsewhere in this site, one famous Jew who was born in Steinhart, about 1700, was rabbi Joseph Ben-Menahem, the first to adopt the surname Steinhart. He used to sign is Responsa books as Joseph Ben-Menahem me-Steinhart (from Steinhart) and this became later his family surname, when the Jews were obliged to adopt family surnames.
His first incumbency was the rabbinate of Rixheim, and shortly afterward he was elected chief rabbi of Upper Alsace. In 1755 he was chosen chief rabbi of Nieder-Ehenheim in Lower Alsace, and eight years later was called as rabbi to Fürth, where he officiated until his death.
In the beginning of the 19th. century the 149 Jewish inhabitants of Steinhart represented more than 40% of the total population of the village.
The Jewish community had a synagogue, a part of which still exists, according to the kind information of Mrs. Ammesdörfer. The other part was used for building a private house.
Also the Jewish school building, this is inhabited now by a young couple. The school was built in 1842 at the expense of a Jewish businessman then living in London, who came to visit the village where he was born.
The Jewish graveyard is still there too, in a hill where there was once the castle of the later nobles "die Späten von Steinhart", who have seen sold the castle and moved from the village.
For more details about the history of the Jews in Steinhart, click here.
General history of the Steinhart village, click here
STEINHART is part of : Hainsfarth, GKZ : 09 7 79 154, County : | | * Donau-Ries, RegBez : | * Schwaben, Land : * Bayern, ZIP : 86744, Locat : (Hainsfarth) 48d58m N 10d38m E, 7029 Oettingen.