Capital of Lower Franconia, Bavaria, Germany. It ranked as a city in 741, and had a Jewish community as early as the eleventh century, although the first documentary evidence of the existence of Jews in the town is dated in 1119. The Crusade of 1147 brought much suffering on the Jews, and they were also persecuted in 1298, and again in 1349, when in their synagogue the men, together with their wives and children, met a voluntary death in the flames. Bishop Julius continued the work begun by Bishop Friedrich, who had expelled the Jews of Würzburg in 1565, and banished the community from the city. The cemetery was, accordingly, no longer used, and Bishop Julius confiscated it by illegal means, even ignoring the emperor's admonition to treat the Jews with justice.
After the expulsion from Würzburg the Jewish community of the neighboring town of Heidingsfeld flourished greatly, and to it were transferred the rabbinate of Würzburg and the Jewish court. The rabbinical office of Würzburg has always been held by prominent men, including Eliezer ben Nathan, Isaac Or Zarua', Meïr of Rothenburg, Israel Koppel Fränkel and his son Samson Fränkel, Jacob of Reckendorf, Aryeh Löb Rapoport, and Levin Fahrenbach. Under Fahrenbach's successor the Jews were again permitted to settle in Würzburg; and Rabbi Abraham Bing, who was appointed chief rabbi of Franconia in 1798, took up his residence in the city. When Bing retired from active service in 1839 the chief rabbinate was abolished, and a district rabbinate was created in its place. The first district rabbi of Würzburg was Seligmann Baer Bamberger, who died in 1878 and was succeeded by his son Nathan Bamberger. Seligmann Baer Bamberger founded various important institutions, including a Jewish school, a teachers' seminary, and a yeshibah. He also originated the movement for the establishment of a Jewish hospital.
Würzburg has numerous societies which support all forms of Jewish activity, among them being four associations for the promotion of the study of the Torah. The Jews of Würzburg number 4,000 out of a total population of 90,000, and constitute one of the most important communities in Bavaria.
- M. L. Bamberger, Ein Blick auf die Gesch. der Juden in Würzburg, Würzburg, 1905;
- idem, Beiträge zur Gesch. der Juden in Würzburg-Heidingsfeld;
- Heffner, Juden in Franken, Nuremberg, 1855;
- Himmelstein, Zeitschrift des Historischen Vereins für Unterfranken und Aschaffenburg, vol. xii.;
- Salfeld, Martyrologium;
- Stern-Neubauer, Hebräische Berichte über die Judenverfolgungen Während der Kreuzzüge, Berlin, 1892;
- Stumpf, Denkwürdigkeiten, part i.;
- Wegele, Vorträge und Abhandlungen.