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Landesjudenschaft, Boehmische

LANDESJUDENSCHAFT, BOEHMISCHE, organization of Bohemian Jewry outside the Prague community. Until the end of the Thirty Years' War all Bohemian Jews belonged to the Prague community as one corporate body. The provincial congregations considered themselves at a disadvantage in the allocation of taxes, and as their number increased they created a federation of their own with their own functionaries. An agreement was reached with the Prague community and in 1659 a Polizeiordnung der Landesjudenschaft was endorsed, corroborated at the conferences of *Kasejovice (1669) and *Brandys nad Labem (1693), and confirmed by the authorities. The main function of the Landesjudenschaft was the collection and distribution of Jewish taxes; over half had to be raised by the countryside Jews and the rest by the Prague community. Every three years a conference of the assessors was held at Smichov, near Prague. Three assessors were assigned to every district and they, together with the other functionaries of the organization, allotted every district its contribution, after which the district assessors made their allotments to the communities. The taxes were levied by contractors. The organization was headed by 12 representatives, led by the Primator, an office first held by Jacob Aaron Lichtenstadt (until 1672) and then by Abraham Aaron *Lichtenstadt (1672–93). The last Primator was Joachim Edler von *Popper (1770–91). The organization employed a Landschreiber ("secretary"), a Landes-Sollizitator ("secretary for legal affairs"), and a Landeskassier ("treasurer"), and from 1704 owned a house in Prague.

A Landesrabbinat was established in 1679, but between 1691 and 1717 two Landesrabbiner functioned. From 1689 to 1691 Abraham b. Saul *Broda served for the whole of Bohemia and was responsible for the western half only until 1709. Wolf Spira-Wedeles served for eastern Bohemia from 1691 to 1715. In 1713 David *Oppenheim was appointed for one half of the country, and for the whole of Bohemia from 1717 until 1736. He was succeeded by Moses Isaac Spira-Wedeles (1737–49). When the Kreisrabbinate ("district rabbinates") were established in 1717, the function of the Landesrabbiner was superseded and the system was formally abolished in 1749. In 1850 a Repraesentanz der Landesjudenschaft in Boehmen was founded. Having no political standing, it engaged mainly in charitable work and, in partnership with the Prague community, maintained the Jewish orphanage for boys in the city. The Landesjudenschaft was dissolved in 1884. Its archives were acquired in 1907 by the Czech national museum in Prague and are now in the Czechoslovak state archives.


G. Klemperer, in: HJ, 12 (1950), 33–66, 143–52; 13 (1951), 55–82; T. Jakobovits, in: JGGJČ, 1 (1929), 332–68; 3 (1931), 157–60; 4(1932), 257–61; 5 (1933), 79–136; idem, in: MGWJ, 74 (1930), 35–41; S.H. Lieben, in: JJLG, 19 (1928), 1–38 passim; S. Krauss, Joachim Edler von Popper (Ger., 1926), passim; Baron, Community, 1 (1942), 339–40; R. Ha-Yisre'eli, Toledot Kehillat Prag ba-Shanim 16801730 (1965), 147–9.