BAMBERG, city in Bavaria, Germany. There were Jews living in Bamberg before the First Crusade (1096), when they were forcibly baptized but later allowed to return to Judaism. Establishments in the medieval "Jewish Lane" (today Pfahlplaetzchen) included a dance hall for weddings, a hostel (hekdesh) for the needy sick and transients, a mikveh, and a synagogue. In 1298 during *Rindfleisch massacres 135 Jews were martyred in Bamberg. During the persecution following the outbreak of the *Black Death in 1348 the Jews there set fire to their homes and perished in flames. Between the 14th and 17th centuries Jews repeatedly attempted to settle in Bamberg, paying high "protection" taxes, only to be later attacked and expelled. In 1633 they numbered ten families, whose right of residence was recognized in 1644. An annual "plum fast" (Zwetschgen Taanit) was observed by the Bamberg community, to commemorate the preservation of the Jews there during the riots of 1699 by one of their number who averted greater damage by pouring plums over the mob. The community increased from 287 in 1810 to 1,270 in 1880 (4.3% of the total population), subsequently declining to 812 in 1933 (1.6%) and 418 in May 1939.
Prominent members of the community included the talmudist and paytan Samuel b. Baruch *Bamberg (13th century). Notable rabbis were Moses *Mintz who served there from c. 1469 to 1474; Samuel Meseritz (c. 1661–65), author of Naḥalat Shivah; and Joseph Kobak (1862–82), editor of Jeschurun. A. Eckstein, rabbi of Bamberg (1888–1935), wrote a number of studies on the history of the Jewish communities in Bavaria.
During the Nazi regime, the synagogue was burned down on Nov. 10, 1938, and 30 to 40 Torah scrolls were destroyed. In 1933–41, 443 Bamberg Jews left Germany and another 66 fled to other German cities. The 300 who remained at the end of 1941 were deported to Riga, Izbica/Lublin, Theresienstadt, and Auschwitz. After the war many displaced persons assembled in Bamberg (14,000 in 1947), but only 17 of the former Jewish residents were among them. In 1965 the cemetery was desecrated. The community then numbered 70. In 1989, there were 106 community members; their number rose to 893 in 2003 as a result of the immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union.
PK; Germ Jud, S.V.; H.F. Brettinger, Juden in Bamberg (1963); A. Eckstein, Geschichte der Juden im ehemaligen Fuerstbistum Bamberg (1898); idem, in: Festschrift zur Einweihung der neuen Synagoge in Bamberg (1910); idem, Die israelitische Kultusgemeinde Bamberg, 1803–53 (1910); Bilder aus der Vergangenheit der israelitischen Gemeinde Bamberg (1933); R.M. Kloos, in: Bericht des historischen Vereins Bamberg, 103 (1967), 341–86. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: N. Haas, Juden in Bamberg 1868–1906; H. Loebl, Juden in Bamberg. Die Jahrzehnte vor dem Holocaust (1999).
[Ze'ev Wilhem Falk]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.