Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home


PALATINATE (Ger. Pfalz), region in W. Germany, also known as Western or Rhenish Palatinate. In the Middle Ages it was the domain of the counts and electors of the Palatinate, who were closely connected with the ruling house of the duchy of Bavaria. The first mention of Jews in the region is as residents of *Speyer in 1084. Communities existed in *Weinheim, *Kaiserslautern, *Heidelberg, and *Landau, all of which suffered during the *Black Death (1348) persecutions. To the indignation of the populace, Elector Rupert I (1329–90) permitted refugees from the massacres perpetrated in *Worms and Speyer to settle in Heidelberg and other nearby localities. Heidelberg eventually emerged as the leading Jewish community, and in 1369 authorities granted it permission to enlarge its cemetery. The nephew of Rupert I, Rupert II (1390–98), and his son Rupert III (1398–1410), king of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor (1400), expelled Jews from the Palatinate. In the course of the 14th and 15th centuries, however, Jews expelled from German cities managed to return and to settle in the villages of the Palatinate. An official inquiry of 1550 revealed the presence of 155 Jewish heads of families. These constituted a *Landjudenschaft, which convened fairly regularly to discuss the problem of tax distribution (which in 1554 was fixed at 1,000 florins annually for a period of six years). Charles Louis (1632–80) introduced taxes on circumcision, burial, and marriage. He also granted the Portuguese and Ashkenazi communities in *Mannheim extraordinary privileges (1660). Mannheim rapidly became the largest Jewish community in the Palatinate, with 63 families in 1697, while Heidelberg had only eight. The increasing Jewish population of the Palatinate, which overflowed into other German states where there were fewer Jews, resulted in the use by Jews of such names as Landau, Weinheim, Mannheim, and Oppenheim, which had their origin in Palatinate localities. The leading Austrian families of *Court Jews, the *Wertheimers and *Oppenheimers, were originally from the Palatinate, as was the *Seligmann-Eichthal family. The electors of the Palatinate employed many Court Jews, purveyors, and military *contractors. One of them, Lemle Moses Reinganum, established a 100,000 florin endowment for Talmud study, the renowned Mannheim Klaus (1706), which remained in existence for more than two centuries.

The number of Jews in the Palatinate continued to increase despite a temporary setback caused by the devastations of the wars of conquest (1688–89) of Louis XIV. In 1722 there were 535 registered Jewish families in the Palatinate, 160 of them in Mannheim. The first *Landrabbiner served in 1706 and the third, David Ullmann (Ulmo), a member of an influential family, was recognized as Landrabbiner in 1728 despite his youth. Although the Landjudenschaft had opposed his nomination, ignored his authority, and demanded that he be examined by three eminent rabbis, Ullmann nevertheless served with official support until 1762. His successor, Naphtali Hirsch *Katzenellenbogen (d. 1800), was also Oberrabbiner (chief rabbi) of the Mannheim Klaus. Elector Charles Theodore (1742–99) attempted to restrict the Jewish population of the Palatinate to 300 after a 1743 inquiry revealed the presence of 488 Jewish families and protracted negotiations over the payment of the 45,000 florins tax burden were conducted with the Landjudenschaft. All "honorable" professions, that of butcher in particular, were declared open to Jews; and Jews were allowed to open cemeteries. The majority of Palatinate Jews were livestock merchants, peddlers, and dealers in wine, hops, tobacco, and other agricultural products. By 1775 the number of Jewish families was 823; a quarter of them lived in Mannheim.

Under French rule (1792–1814) the Jews enjoyed equality but lost it on the return to Bavaria. In 1818 *Napoleon's "Infamous Decree" (1808) was extended indefinitely in the Palatinate. The struggle for Jewish emancipation was led by Elias Gruenebaum (b. 1807), rabbi of Landau (1836–93), an energetic advocate of Reform Judaism in both liturgy and education. Emancipation was granted only in 1848 and 1851. Anti-Jewish disturbances broke out in the villages of the Palatinate in 1819 (see *Hep! Hep!), the early 1830s, and in 1849.

The Jewish population of Rheinbayern (Rhenish Bavaria), which numbered some 2,000 families in 1821, grew to 13,526 persons in 1833 and to 15,412 in 1840 (2.65% of the total population), after which it began to decline (to 10,108 in 1900 and to 6,487 in 1933). In 1840 the population was distributed among 180 localities, 40 of which had at least 100 Jews. Ingenheim, one of the largest, had 551 Jews (one-third of the total population). By October 1937 there remained 4,300 Jews in 67 localities, only nine of which contained more than 100 persons. Those communities that grew after World War I were Ludwigshafen (1,400 in 1931) and Pirmasens (800 in 1931), both of which were themselves part of developing industrial cities. After 1933 the Jews of the primarily rural communities suffered from a relentless campaign to exclude them from the trade in livestock, wine, tobacco, leather, hops, etc., all of which were traditional Jewish occupations. During the Kristallnacht (November 1938) many synagogues of the Palatinate were burned down and hundreds of male Jews were arrested. Jews were also evicted from the villages to the cities and subsequently deported during World War II. In 1970 there were 668 Jews living in the federal state of Rheinland-Pfalz (300 in Neustadt). The Jewish communities in Rheinland-Pfalz numbered 352 in 1989 and 3,078 in 2004. The increase is explained by the immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union.


H. Arnold, Von den Juden in der Pfalz (1967); H. Schnee, Die Hoffinanz und der moderne Staat, 4 (1963), 178–86; M. Stern, Koenig Ruprecht von der Pfalz in seinen Beziehungen zu den Juden (1898); L. Loewenstein, Geschichte der Juden in der Kurpfalz (1895); R. Herz, Die Juden in der Pfalz (1937): B. Rosenthal, in: MGWJ, 79 (1935), 443–50. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: R. Bender (ed.), Pfaelzische Juden und ihre Kultuseinrichtungen (Suedwestdeutsche Schriften, vol. 5) (1988); H. Arnold, Juden in der Pfalz. Vom Leben pfaelzischer Juden (19882); H. Morweiser, Pfaelzer Juden und IG-Farben (1988); A. Kuby, Juden in der Provinz (19892); idem (ed.), Pfaelzisches Judentum gestern und heute (1992); P. Karmann (ed.), Juedisches Leben in der Nordpfalz (1992); M. Strehlen (ed.), "Ein edler Stein sei sein Baldachin …," in: Juedische Friedhoefe in Rheinland-Pfalz (Denkmalpflege in Rheinland-Pfalz) (1996); B. Kukatzki, Pfaelzisch-juedischer Alltag im Kaiserreich (1997); idem, Bibliographie zur Geschichte der Juden in der Suedpfalz (Landauer Arbeitsberichte und Preprints, vol. 10) (2001).