German SIG #Germany Re: Jewish presence in Bamberg [correction] #germany


In a message dated 1/6/2010 Rodney Eisfelder <>
commented on my statement:
"Bamberg was a significant metropolis and Jews were forbidden to live there
until well into the 19th century. Those who had trade or business in Bamberg
(including the district rabbis of Bamberg) therefore settled in the
surrounding villages."

My statement was based on incidental mention of the residences of Bamberg's
didtrict rabbis, as in the Encyclopedia Judaica, the entry for Rabbi Samuel ben
David Moses haLevi (1625-1681)aka Shmuel Meseritz, author of Nahlat Shivah,
the compendium of rabbinical legal documents incl. divorce and marriage
"In 1660 he was appointed regional chief rabbi of Bamberg, but since the
authorities would not permit the rabbi of Bamberg to live in the town
itself his seat was at Zeckendorf, a village about two hours' journey
from Bamberg."
I have found similar mention in other sources about Jews being barred
from Bamberg at various times.
The EJ's entry on Bamberg reports Jews living in Bamberg before the
First Crusade (1096), when they were forcibly baptized but later allowed
to return to Judaism. 135 Jews were martyred in Bamberg during the
Rindfleisch massacres in 1298.

During the Black Death persecution in 1348, the Jews set fire to their homes
and perished in the flames. Between the 14th and the 17th centuries, Jews
repeatedly attempted to settle in Bamberg, but were attacked or expelled
again and again. There were 10 Jewish families in 1633, whose
right of residence was recognized in 1644. There was an attempted massacre
of Jews in 1699. The Jewish community had grown to 287 in 1810 to 1,270
in 1880 (4.3% of the total population), and declined to 862 in 1933.

My cousin Rodney Eisfelder, descended, like me, >from the same Suesslein
Hirsch of Frensdorf, was too polite to mention me as the author of the
misleading statement on the Jews of Bamberg. [thank you Rodney for your
courtesy. May everyone learn >from Rodney: If you need to correct someone
in public, do it politely, without gloating and without calling the other
person a jerk. I am glad to hear there was some continuity for
Bamberg's Jews in earlier generations, though I have some doubts about the
accuracy of the information in the "history" of the Jews of Bamberg, which was
written by a non-professional historian.

We may liken Bamberg and its Jews to a glass that is seen as half full by
some and by others as half empty. Over the centuries, Jews in Bamberg,
were persecuted, massacred or expelled about as often as they were admitted.
Those who had the financial means, or those who could provide a useful service
for the local princeling (the prince-bishop in the case of Bamberg) could
purchase privileges denied to those of lesser means.

The story of Bamberg is, in this respect, the story of just about every place
were Jews lived in Europe.

Our joint family (Rodney's and mine) lived in Frensdorf, which had a
synagogue, a mikveh and a school. They made their living largely as
traders in agricultural products (horse dealers, cattle dealers, hides,
soap. candles, agents and brokers. The school closed down in the late
19th century, the last Jews (hops traders) decamped for Bamberg in 1898.

[snip] In short, Rodney is right and I was wrong. Many Jews were able to
purchase the right to live in Bamberg in past centuries.

Michael Bernet Suburban NYC

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