Capital of the district of the same name in the province of Hanover, Prussia. A Jew named Jacob is mentioned in a document of 1267 as living there; and the text of a Jewish oath of the same period has been preserved. On Nov. 28, 1309, Bishop Engelbert II. directed the lay assessors to protect the Jewish families in Osnabrück, then numbering about thirteen, from wrong or violence. The same bishop issued other decrees regarding the Jews (Nov. 7, 1312), which forbade them to receive more than one pfennig per mark as weekly interest. Bishop Gottfried gave his protection (June 15, 1327) to fifteen Jewish families, mentioned by name, in return for an annual tax of from two shillings to eighteen marks on each family; and the Jews were compelled to act as complainants or defendants only before him or his court. On July 8, 1337, Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian entrusted the protection of the Jews to Count Heinrich of Waldeck, who was to collect from them all tribute and taxes. During the period of the Black Death Jews were martyred in Osnabrück as elsewhere, and their possessions were claimed by Bishop John II. (named Hoet), who redeemed with them all property which was in pledge. A few years later, however, eight Jews, each with a household consisting of a servant, a maid, and a tutor, were allowed to reside in Osnabrück, but each one was bound to pay the city an annual tax of thirty marks. In 1386 the Jews of Osnabrück purchased a cemetery, and the city had at that time a "Judenteich," a "Judenstrasse," and a "Judengraben" (later called, apparently, "Weibergraben"). There were five Jewish families in the town in 1413, each of which paid from seven to eight gold gulden as tax, but their number had dwindled by 1423 to two, named Lefmann and Isaak. On Oct. 20, 1424, Bishop Johann of Diepholz was compelled to promise to rid the city of Jews, since the citizens disliked them, but these two families, both of which were privileged, were permitted to remain.
For several centuries no Jews were allowed in Osnabrück. In his concordat with the city Duke Ernst August II., who was also Bishop of Osnabrück, enacted (May 29, 1716) that no Jew should be allowed to engage in trade or to live in the town contrary to the will of the council. There were but three Jewish families in Osnabrück in 1848, a local statute fixing that number as the maximum. In 1901the Jews of the city numbered 397; it now (1904) belongs to the district rabbinate of Emden, and includes 420 souls. The Jewish community possesses a public school, a benevolent society and women's club, and a biḳḳur ḥolim society.
- Aronius, Regesten, p. 273, No. 654;
- Bär, Osnabrücker Urkundenbuch, iv. 424, No. 662; 443, No. 693, Osnabrück, 1902;
- Mittheilungen des Historischen Vereins zu Osnabrück, ii. 345; v. 12, 20, 25; vi. 83, 137 et seq., 141 et seq. (Appendix); viii. 68 et seq.; xi. 36, 155;
- Wiener, in Ben Chananja, v., Nos. 39-42;
- idem, in Jahrbuch für die Geschichte der Juden in Deutschland, i. 176, 214 et seq.;
- idem, Regesten, p. 41, No. 117; p. 66, No. 85;
- idem, in Jüdisches Literaturblatt, viii. 3 et seq., 11 et seq., 15 et seq.;
- Salfeld, Martyrologium, pp. 69, 247, 286;
- Jellinek, Märtyrer und Memorbuch , p. 72;
- Allg. Zeit. des Jud. 1877, p. 667; 1894, No. 11, 4;
- Wurm, Osnabrück, Seine Geschichte, Seine Bau-und Kunstdenkmäler, p. 50, Osnabrück, 1901;
- Statistisches Jahrbuch des Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeindebundes, 1903, p. 53.