JÜDISCHHEIT (JÜDISCHEYT or JÜDISCHAYT):
Medieval German expression for the Jewish community of a certain locality or of a whole country. Thus the gilds of Speyer in 1352, readmitting the Jews after their expulsion in 1349, speak of them as "Jüdischheit, die bi uns zu Spire wohnende werdent" ("Zeitschrift für Gesch. der Juden in Deutschland," v. 246); the "Gemeine Jüdischheit" in Rothenburg-on-the-Tauber in 1519 sent a petition to the emperor (ib. iv. 3). The Jews in Burgau, in a petition addressed to Emperor Ferdinand I. in 1559, speak of the "Gemeine Jüdischheit, so im heiligen Reich wohnend" (ib. iii. 161, v. 333). Josel of Rosheim signs documents as "Gemeiner Jüdischhait Bevelshaber" (ib. iii. 169) or as "Regierer Gemeiner Jüdischait im Reich" (Feilchenfeld, "Josel von Rosheim," pp. 15, 27, 153, Strasburg, 1898). But by the sixteenth century the expression "Judenschaft" had become more customary ("Zeitschrift für Gesch. der Juden in Deutschland," iii. 162, v. 332). Samson Wertheimer is called in the "Schutzbrief" granted to him by Emperor Leopold I., Aug. 29, 1703, "der in unsern . . . Landen sich befündenden Judenschaff Vorgesetzter Rabbiner" (Kaufmann, "Samson Wertheimer," p. 29, Vienna, 1888); and the Jewish community of Halberstadt, in an address to the prefect of the department of the Saale in 1808, speaks of itself as "Judenschaft" (Auerbach, "Gesch. der Israelitischen Gemeinde Halberstadt," p. 212, Halberstadt, 1868). When the Jews began to be considered as ordinary citizens, even this name was obnoxious; and when the Prussian government in the bill concerning the legal status of the Jews spoke of "Judenschaften" the states changed it to "Synagogengemeinden," which expression remained in the law of July 23, 1847.
"Jüdischkeit" ("Yiddishkeit": "Jewish Chronicle," March 18, 1904, p. 20) is nowadays used, in a sense somewhat akin to the English" Jewishness," by the German Orthodox to signify strict adherence to the ritual laws and complete acceptance of the Orthodox principles. It is frequently found in "Der Israelit" of Mayence and in cognate literature. Breuer, in his eulogy of S. R. Hirsch, Papa, 1889, says: "Jüdischkeit, alte Jüdischkeit, war zum Hohn und Spott geworden" ("Wochenschrift," 1890, p. 43).
- Jolowicz, Das Gesetz über die Verhältnisse der Juden in Preussen, etc., Köslin, 1847;
- Allg. Zeit. des Jud. 1847, p. 340, passim.