Jüdisches Museum Frankfurt am Main

Self-administration

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Self-administration

This part of the exhibition shows how life was organized in the Judengasse in Frankfurt, and presents the commu­nity's constitution and facilities.

The focal point is a model of the Judengas­se on a scale of 1:50, as it was after the great fire of 1711. During this time, three thousand people lived in cramped and unhealthy conditions in a Ghetto originally intended to house just one hundred.

After the great fire of 1711 the city council decreed strict regulations regarding the construction of the houses to prevent similar disasters. All construction drawings were to be approved by the city council. Many of these drawings are preserved. So it was possible to make an exact model of the Judengasse.

  • The great fire of 1711 destroyed the entire Judengasse. Contemporary copperplate engraving
  • 
Model of the Judengasse after  1711
  • 
Construction drawing of the houses “Schwarzer Rappe” and Wilde Ente”. From the “Drawings of the Jewish houses since 1711”
  • The great fire of 1711 destroyed the entire Judengasse. Contemporary copperplate engraving
  • Model of the Judengasse after 1711
  • Construction drawing of the houses “Schwarzer Rappe” and "Wilde Ente”. From the “Drawings of the Jewish houses since 1711”
  • The great fire of 1711 destroyed the entire Judengasse. Contemporary copperplate engraving
  • 
Model of the Judengasse after  1711
  • 
Construction drawing of the houses “Schwarzer Rappe” and Wilde Ente”. From the “Drawings of the Jewish houses since 1711”

The Elders of Frankfurt's Jewish community decide on regulations governing dress and luxury. Copperplate engraving in Johann Jacob Schudt's “Jüdische Merckwürdigkeiten”, Frankfurt 1717

The Elders of Frankfurt's Jewish community decide on regulations governing dress and luxury. Copperplate engraving in Johann Jacob Schudt's “Jüdische Merckwürdigkeiten”, Frankfurt 1717


Although the head of the community, the treasurer and their assistants were elected, in fact administration was in the hands of the wealthiest families.

The synagogue is the spiritual centre of the community.

In the eighteenth century, there were four synagogues in Frankfurt: the Alte Synagoge, or Old Synagogue, in the north-east section of the Judengasse, with an annexe for women; the adjacent Neue Synagoge, or New Synagogue; the synagogue in the so-called Klause or Talmud school in the south-east section; and the synagogue in the almshouse by the cemetery.

Religious services in these synagogues were organized by the members of the community them­selves, and the cantors.


Rabbi Naftali Kohen (1649–1719) with two of his students. Painting by Johann Andreas Benjamin Nothnagel, 1772

Rabbi Naftali Kohen (1649–1719) with two of his students. Painting by Johann Andreas Benjamin Nothnagel, 1772


The original of this cup, used for the recital of blessings over wine to mark the commencement of Shabbat and other festivals, was presented to the Frankfurt synagogue from the estate of Michael J. Speyer in 1764. In No­vember 1938, the director of the His­torisches Museum saved the cup and other items in the Museum of Jewish Antiquities from being confiscated by the Gestapo. In 1951 it was passed on to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem by the Jewish Cultural Reconstruction.

The inscription reads: “Cup of David by which to thank God in song and joy. Donated to the honour of God by the famous elder and benefactor, the honourable Mr Michel, son of Mr Jossel, Speyer, blessed be the memory of the just, who gave with a pure heart. He donated a significant sum for a number of good things, and among those that he gave the syna­gogue was this cup with which to recite kiddush on each holy day. His sacrifice will be ‘a memorial before the Lord eternally’ [Exodus 28:29]. His heirs have fulfilled his wish and tes­tament today, Wednesday, 2 Tevet 5525 [25 December 1764, i.e. 30 days after his death].”

The illustration shows the struggle of Jacob with the Angel (Genesis 32:25). On the other side of the cup is the Sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22:9–12) and Jacob's Ladder (Genesis 28:12).


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Frankfurt am Main
Last change: 2013, April 02





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