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Frankfurt on the Oder

FRANKFURT ON THE ODER, city in Brandenburg, Germany. Jews were living in Frankfurt before 1294, when a dispute between Jews and the slaughterers' guild there was settled. The Jews were not permitted to own houses, and lived in rented dwellings, referred to as Judenbuden. They mainly engaged in small trading and moneylending. In 1399 the community relinquished its cemetery for a larger one. From the second half of the 15th century the local merchants made continual complaints about economic competition by the Jews and the rate of interest they charged. In 1506 the synagogue was demolished and the new university was erected on the site. The Jews of Frankfurt were expelled with the rest of *Brandenburg Jewry in 1510. They later returned, and in 1564 there were nine Jewish familes living in Frankfurt, and 11 in 1567. They were again expelled in 1573. When a number of Jews were admitted to Brandenburg in 1671, a new community grew up in Frankfurt. The university there was the first in Germany to admit Jews. The first two Jewish students registered at the faculty of medicine in 1678, and others followed from all over Europe and even Jerusalem. Between 1739 and 1810 about 130 Jews studied there, and between 1721 and 1794, 29 graduated in medicine. The community numbered 592 in 1801; 399 in 1817; around 800 in the 1840s; and 891 in 1880. Subsequently it declined to 747 around 1900; 669 in 1925; and 586 in 1933.

In the 18th century many Jews from Poland attended the fairs in Frankfurt. In 1763 a conference of Polish rabbis headed by Gershon of Frankfurt settled a dispute between the printing houses of Amsterdam and Sulzbach concerning the publication of the Talmud.

Following the spread of the *Reform movement in the first half of the 19th century, the Orthodox members in Frankfurt seceded from the liberals and opened a prayer hall of their own. Samuel *Holdheim served as rabbi in Frankfurt from 1836 to 1840. In 1861 the first society for the colonization of Ereẓ Israel was founded in Frankfurt by Ḥayyim *Lorje. The scholar Judah *Bergmann officiated as rabbi there at the beginning of the 20th century, and the leader of liberal Judaism in Germany, Ignaz *Maybaum, was rabbi of the community between 1928 and 1936. In 1933 the community had a synagogue, a cemetery, three charitable societies, local chapters of the "Reichsbund Juedischer Frontsoldaten" and a *B'nai B'rith lodge. The Orthodox members rejoined the main community in 1934.

Under the Nazis the Frankfurt Jews suffered the same fate as those in the rest of Germany. Rabbi Maybaum was arrested and confined to the notorious Colombia prison in Berlin; later the charges against him were suspended. In the November pogrom known as Kristallnacht the synagogue was burned, Jewish businesses were destroyed, and several Jewish men were sent to Sachsenhausen. By May 1939 there were 184 Jews and 122 Mischlinge in the city. Jews were deported before the outbreak of World War II and eventually transported to Lublin Reservation. Twenty-four Jews from Frankfurt were deported to *Theresienstadt on Aug. 27, 1942, and three on June 16, 1943. The Jewish community was reestablished after the war and numbered 200 in 1958 but declined thereafter until the arrival of Jews from the former Soviet Union, who refounded the community in 1998. It numbered 222 in 2005. A memorial site (inaugurated in 1988) commemorates the destroyed synagogue. As Frankfurt on the Oder was divided after 1945 the Jewish cemetery is located in Slubice, Poland.


The earliest Hebrew book printed in Frankfurt on the Oder was a Pentateuch printed by J. and F. Hartman in 1595. Eighty years later J.C. Beckman, professor of theology at the local university, obtained a license to extend the privilege to print in Hebrew, and a Pentateuch with haftarot and the Five Scrolls, as well as other books, were published in 1677.

The most important work published there was a new edition of the Talmud (1697–99). The Court Jew Berend *Lehmann of Halberstadt invested in it and presented a large number of the 2,000 sets printed to various communities, battei midrash, and yeshivot. Further editions were printed in 1715–22 and 1736–39. Michael Gottschalk succeeded Beckman as manager and before 1740 Professor Grillo bought Gottschalk's press. It continued in his family until the end of the century, and in the hands of his successor, C.F. Elsner, until 1813. Grillos' turnover in trade of Hebrew books reached 80,000 Reichsthaler annually – a measure of the importance of the press for Germany and Eastern Europe. The main midrashim, Yalkut Shimoni, the Zohar, and other important rabbinic works were printed in Frankfurt on the Oder. As the result of the Prussian legislation of 1812, it was possible in 1813 for Hirsch Baschwitz, a Jew, to acquire the Hebrew printing press from Elsner. In turn, he sold the business in 1826 to Trebitsch & Son of Berlin.


Germ Jud, 2 (1968), 251–2; FJW (1932), 65; A. Ackermann, Geschichte der Juden in Brandenburg (1906), 66, 70, 79, 80; S.L. Zitron, in: Der Jude, 2 (1917–18), 347–53, 670–7; L. Davidsohn, Beitraege zur Sozial-und Wirtschaftsgeschichte der Berliner Juden vor der Emanzipation (1920), 19, 39, 45, 46, 48; L. Lewin, in: JJLG, 14 (1921), 43–85, 217–38; 15 (1923), 59–96; 16 (1924), 43–85; idem, Die Landessynode der grosspolnischen Judenschaft (1926), 12, 14, 43, 49, 64; G. Kisch, in: Juedische Familienforschung, 10 (1934), 566–74, 598–602; B. Brilling, in: MGWJ, 80 (1936), 262–76; idem, in: SBB, 1 (1953–54), 84–94, 145–56, 183–96; 2 (1955–56), 79–96, 102–6; 8 (1966), 25–37; idem, in: Archiv fuer Geschichte des Buchwesens, 1 (1956), 325–30; idem, in: Boersenblatt fuer den deutschen Buchhandel, 13 (1957), 1537–48; S. Stern, Der Preussische Staat und die Juden, 2 (1962), Akten no. 1, 27, 43, 44, 142, 145, 149; PK Germanyah. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Frankfurter Jahrbuch 1999 des Vereins der Freunde und Foerderer des Museums Viadrina, Jacobsdorf, 79–98, 128–48; B. Meier, "Frankfurt/Oder," in: I. Diekmann and J.H. Schoeps (eds.), Wegweiser durch das juedische Brandenburg (1995), 125–41.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.