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BAIERSDORF:

Small city in Bavaria, near Erlangen, once the summer abode of the margraves of Kulmbach-Bayreuth. Little is known concerning the history of the Jews there. It is certain that in thefourteenth century a Jewish community had been established; and as the seat of the rabbinate for all the Jews of the principality of Bayreuth, it must have had some importance, considering the smallness of the place. The cemetery adjoining the synagogue was used by the Jews of the surrounding district extending over many miles: it contains many tombstones, some of which are said to date from the beginning of the fifteenth century. A number of court Jews at Baiersdorf became "barnossen" (presidents) of the entire Jewish community in the principality; and in 1728 Moses Goldschmid, court agent, was appointed rabbi of the province by the margrave.

The best known of all the court Jews living there was Samson (ben Judah Selke) of Baiersdorf. He was a great "shtadlan" (official head of the Jewish community) and benefactor, and in 1712 erected a stately synagogue entirely at his own expense. The synagogue possesses valuable old candelabra and hangings. The Jewish hospital is mentioned as early as 1530. Samson's son-in-law, Moses Hameln, rabbi at Baiersdorf, has been immortalized through the memoirs of his mother, Glückel von Hameln, which memoirs, by Moses' directions, were copied from the original manuscript.

Among the notable personages of Baiersdorf in the second half of the eighteenth century were David Disbeck, author of "Pardes David" and rabbi there and in Metz; his son Simon, and grandson Moses, both scholars; Noah Hirsch Berlin, and W. Cohn. Berlin was rabbi of the principality and had his residence at Baiersdorf, but later was called to Mayence and Hamburg. Cohn was the last district rabbi of Baiersdorf.

Though the community has inherited a considerable number of institutions, it is now in a state of decay. In 1834 there were about 100 families, aggregating about 400 souls; but the emigration of the younger element to the United States (among others, the founders of the well-known banking-house of Seligman in New York, the Lehmayer and Lohman families), and the removal of the more prosperous members of the community to larger cities, gradually reduced the number to less than a dozen families. See Bayreuth.

Bibliography:
  • Lang, Neuere Gesch. des Fürstenthums Bayreuth, 1798;
  • Huck, Gesch. von Baiersdorf, 1834;
  • Hübsch, Gesch. von Baiersdorf, 1862;
  • Archiv für Gesch. und Alterthumskunde von Oberfranken, iii., No. 1, 1845;
  • Memoiren der Glückel von Hameln, ed. Kaufmann, 1896.
D. A. E.
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