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ASCHAFFENBURG:

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Important town on the right bank of the Main in Bavaria. Jews in Aschaffenburg are first mentioned in the thirteenth century, when reference is made to a Rabbi Abraham of Aschaffenburg. In the reports of the persecution which the Jews had to suffer in the year 1349, at the time of the Black Death, Aschaffenburg and its neighboring towns are mentioned. Records exist of Jewish inhabitants in the following towns of the diocese of Mayence, called later the principality of Aschaffenburg: Buchen, Külsheim, Babenhausen, Steinheim, Seligenstadt (1292), Miltenberg (where a large cemetery existed as early as 1336), Amorbach, and Walldürn.

In documents of 1344-45 mention is made of the synagogue of Aschaffenburg. A scholar of Aschaffenburg, R. Meïr, is quoted in the fifteenth century by Joseph Kolon ("Responsa," No. 1). In the sixteenth century mention is made of a Rabbi Simon ben Isaac ha-Levi, author of "Debeḳ Ṭob" and "Massoret ha-Miḳra"; and in the seventeenth century of R. Meïr Grotwohl. During the seventeenth century, Aschaffenburg had a Jewish congregation of considerable size, as is evident from various documents. In 1698, with the consent of the princeelector, a new synagogue was built; but in the beginning of the eighteenth century the congregation had dwindled down to twenty members. From this time onward the religious leaders of the community can be enumerated.

Rabbis and Teachers.

In 1719 the various congregations that had the right to use the cemetery of Aschaffenburg founded a charitable and burial society. These congregations were: Goldbach-Hösbach, Grossostheim, Kleinwallstadt, Mömmlingen, Hofstetten, Grosswallstadt, Niedernberg, and Hausen. In the records of the burial society there are some regulations by Isaac Seckel Ethausen, author of ("Or Ne'elam"), who signs as rabbi of the district of Aschaffenburg. In 1723 he left Aschaffenburg, in order to accept the position of chief rabbi of Mayence. In 1769 a convention, presided over by the chief rabbi, D. M. Scheuer, was held, which devoted its attention almost exclusively to the methods of improving religious instruction. Seligmann Sulzbach is mentioned as teacher in the Talmud Torah, in 1779: he was a son-in-law of Meïr Barby, rabbi at Pressburg, in whose work, "Ḥiddushe Meharam Barby," he is quoted. His successor, in 1784, was Israel Isserlein, who calls himself "Rabbi of Eibenschütz." In 1786 Hillel Wolf Sondheimer, who had been assistant rabbi at Fürth, was elected rabbi of Aschaffenburg; but officially he was called "teacher" (Schullehrer). In 1803, when Aschaffenburg was separated from Mayence, Sondheimer was made chief rabbi of Aschaffenburg. He officiated in that capacity up to 1832, and died on March 3 of that year, aged eighty-three years. His successor, Gabriel Neuburger, was elected April 13, but was only considered as a deputy, in which capacity he officiated up to 1845. Later he resided as a private member of the congregation in Aschaffenburg, where he died in 1888. He was succeeded by district rabbi Abraham Adler, who officiated until his death in 1880. Adler was succeeded by Simon Bamberger, who had formerly been rabbi in Fischach. Bamburger was at first appointed deputy, but in 1888 was made district rabbi. He died Dec. 9, 1897.

The synagogue, erected in 1698, had to be demolished in 1887, when a new one was built. The congregation maintains a school for religious instruction, and has a separate cemetery besides the one used by the smaller congregations of the district. In the last century the community possessed a Jewish hospital. There are several Jewish charitable associations, which have an income derived from legacies; there is also a social club. The congregation, the members of which are mainly merchants, numbers 130 families.

Bibliography:
  • Salomon Bamberger, Historische Berichte über die Juden der Stadt und des Ehemaligen Fürstentums Aschaffenburg, Strasburg, 1900.
D. S. Ba.
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