BRUNSWICK (German, Braunschweig):
Duchy of Germany, the capital of which has the same name. The first settlement of Jews in the duchy was at Blankenburg; for a record states that in 1241 the abbess of Quedlinburg owed Jacob, a Jew, probably the first one in Brunswick, 213 pounds of silver; some of the lands of the nunnery were sold to extinguish this debt. At another time a payment of eighty pounds of silver between the same parties is mentioned. In 1247, Jews were settled at Helmstedt. The abbot of Verden was their lord. At the time of the Black Death in 1349, the Jews of Brunswick were persecuted; and in 1540, by reason of Martin Luther's polemics, anti-Jewish outbreaks occurred. In the eighteenth century Israel Jacobson, a noted Jewish financier, lived in Brunswick. Mendelssohn often visited the ducal family, with which he was on intimate terms.
The Jews at the beginning of the nineteenth century were barely tolerated in Brunswick. However, their condition was gradually ameliorated; for, by the laws of Oct. 29, 1821, Jews were permitted to become apprentices in all trades. On dissolving the Chambers July 11, 1823, the duke of Brunswick announced that steps to relieve Jews of their disabilities were contemplated. Again, in 1831, the Jews petitioned Duke William of Brunswick to change the laws affecting them. As the Jews had always fulfilled their duties as citizens, they demanded to be admitted to full privileges as such. This petition was unsuccessful.
On Oct. 12, 1832, measures for the relief of the Jews were passed. It was enacted that those who had the legal right to reside in Brunswick were to be regarded as inhabitants and native residents. It was ordained that right of residence did not depend on religious convictions, but rather on the possession of some means, or of freedom from criminal acts. The Jews were allowed to vote for and act as deputies and as minor officials. As late as 1820 these rights were exclusively enjoyed by the Christians. It is to be noted that in 1833 the director of the Samson Free School in Wolfenbüttel was a candidate for the office of deputy and was defeated by one vote. The Jews had, however, no extensive property rights; for they could buy land only with the permission of the government. They were permitted to act as attorneys, but not as procurators or notaries.
In 1843 and 1844, through the "Allg. Zeit. des Judenthums," Ludwig Philippson summoned a rabbinical conference for the discussion of questions affecting Judaism, to meet at Brunswick early in 1844. The sessions lasted from June 12 to June 19, and were attended by twenty-two, and later by twenty-five rabbis, who worked to improve the Jewish ritual and to preserve the religious instinct in the Jews themselves. One of the results of the conference, which drew attention to the position of the Jews, was the repeal of the Jews' oath, "More Judaico," May 16, 1845. In 1850 permission was granted to Jews to become officers in the army and to marry Christians without first being baptized.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century S. L. Eger was rabbi in Brunswick. In 1840 Dr. Herzfeld was the rabbi, the government having full power to appoint.
In the duchy two famous institutions now flourish: (1) the Samson Free School at Wolfenbüttel, mentioned above, founded in 1733 by Gumpel Moses (also known as Marcus Gumpel Moses Fulda), the first Jewish resident of Wolfenbüttel; and (2) the Jacobson Free School and Asylum at Seesen, of which Immanuel Wohlwill was superintendent in 1838.
In 1840 the Jews of Brunswick numbered 1,300. The latest figures give 2,000 Jewish residents in the duchy.
- Bresslau, in Steinschneider, Hebr. Bibl. 1872, p. 10;
- Salfeld, Martyrologium, p. 269. For the later period, Jost, Neuere, Gesch. der Israeliten von 1815 bis 1845, Berlin, 1846, passim. For the conference, Protokolle der Ersten Rabbiner-Versammlung, Brunswick, 1844. For the Samson Free School, Orient, Lit. 1844, Nos. 5-8.