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JONATHAN LEVI ZION:

Representative of the Jewish community of Frankfort-on-the-Main in its defense against the attacks of John Pfefferkorn. When the latter had obtained from EmperorMaximilian I. an edict ordering the confiscation of all Hebrew books (Aug. 19, 1509), Jonathan Levi Zion went to Worms to obtain its suspension by the imperial court. Failing in this, he was sent to Italy to plead before the emperor personally. When he reached the emperor's headquarters at Verona, he met there Isaac of Triest, through whose influence he obtained an audience with the emperor, who promised that he would send them his decision. A week later the Margrave of Baden, whom the emperor appointed procurator, promised Jonathan to do everything in his power in favor of the Jews. But Pfefferkorn's arrival (Oct. 29, 1509) frustrated the hopes of the Jewish delegate. Whenever he met Jonathan in the streets of Verona he intimidated him by threats and insults. Fearing for his personal safety, Jonathan threw himself at the feet of the emperor and asked for protection. For a time Maximilian was inclined to submit the affair to a committee of princes. But the two Jewish delegates asked for a postponement in the hope of finding substitutes more able to plead their cause against their opponent.

A letter from Archbishop Uriel of Mayence, exposing Pfefferkorn's ignorance, and a renewed appeal of the Jews made some impression upon the emperor. At the beginning of November he issued a decree authorizing the archbishop to examine the confiscated books; in a second decree he enjoined the magistrate of Frankfort to submit to the decision of the archbishop. Through Erwin Hutten, Jonathan had knowledge of these decrees before they were sent, and reported to Frankfort this favorable turn of affairs. But on Nov. 10 the emperor modified the first decree and ordered the continuance of the confiscation. After vainly protesting Jonathan returned to Frankfort.

Bibliography:
  • Grätz, Gesch. ix. 93-94, 523 et seq.;
  • Kracauer, in Zeitschrift für die Gesch. der Juden in Deutschland, i. 170 et seq.
D. S. Man.
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