MEISSEN


MEISSEN, former margravate in Saxony, city near Dresden, Germany. Jews are mentioned as resident in the margravate of Meissen in the first decade of the 11th century. An organized community in the city of Meissen dates only from the 12th century, when a synagogue and a cemetery were maintained. The Jews lived at first in a Judendorf outside the city walls near the "Jewish gate." In 1265 Duke Henry the Illustrious enacted a liberal decree securing the Jewish community undisturbed participation in the city's life for some 80 years. During this period they made their living as pawnbrokers and moneylenders. Their communal life flourished, and they established the first Jewish school in Saxony. In 1330 Emperor Louis IV transferred the protection of the Jews in Meissen to Frederick the Grave of Thuringia. During the *Black Death persecutions of 1349 the community was destroyed. Although it was never reestablished within the city itself during medieval times, Jewish moneylenders and tradesmen remained as taxpayers within the margravate. A partial expulsion took place in 1411, but the decree was rescinded in 1415. In 1425 Frederick the Warlike granted them protection for a yearly fee; however, during the course of the Hussite Wars (see *Hussites), Frederick the Mild ordered the expulsion of all Jews from Meissen and Thuringia in 1430. They were not permitted entry into Saxony as a whole until the end of the 18th century. The modern community in the city of Meissen was founded in the 19th century, but it never achieved the status of its medieval counterpart. The city had a population of 32 Jews in 1890 that remained stable until 1904, but by 1933 all of them had been absorbed by *Dresden.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Germania Judaica, 1 (1963), 225–6; 2 (1968), 531–3, incl. bibl.; A. Leicht, Die Judengemeinde in Meissen (repr. 1890); A. Levy, Geschichte der Juden in Sachsen (1900), passim; S. Neufeld, Die Juden im Thueringisch-Saechsischen Gebiet waehrend des Mittelalters, 2 vols. (1917–27), passim; FJW, 323.

[Alexander Shapiro]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.