• Art S.

Berlin's Jewish Community Officially Established, 1671

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

On This Day in Jewish History: September 10th, 1671

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#onthisday, 1671, the Jewish community in Berlin is officially established.

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For almost 600 hundred years, the city of Berlin was a site of repeated expulsions of the Jews. They were blamed for the Black Plague, they were accused of anti-Christian practices, they were exiled in order that their goods could be confiscated.

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There were no Jews in Berlin after their expulsion in 1571 until a single Court Jew, Israel Aaron, was permitted into the city in 1663.

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Then, #onthisday, 1671 when the Jews were expelled from Vienna, The Great Elector, Frederick William, invited 50 Jewish families to enter Berlin. Thus, began the birth of the Jewish community in Berlin but also decades of competition between the first Jewish families and subsequent immigrant arrivals as well as years of taxation and careful regulation of the Jewish population.

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Under the Great Elector, the Jews were permitted to partake in commerce but not usury and they were taxed excessively, even for marriages.

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By the end of the 17th Century, new restrictions were imposed, including a prohibition on peddling and Jews living in the villages. Even portions of the Jewish liturgy were regulated.

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After accusations that recitation of the Aleynu prayer involved anti-Christian gestures, specific words were prohibited and a Christian witness stood guard to enforce the edict. Still, the Jewish population grew during the early part of the 18th century and in 1714 the synagogue was officially dedicated.

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Restrictions slowly loosened and Jews were permitted to engage in trade and maintain shops open to the public.

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Among the most momentous events was the arrival of Moses Mendelssohn in 1743. Mendelssohn encouraged his fellow Jews to pursue both a religious and secular education, giving birth to Haskalah, the Jewish Enlightenment. By the middle of the 19th Century, there would be close to 10,000 Jews in Berlin and many would form the backbone of the new Reform Movement.

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By the end of the 19th Century, there would be 110,000 Jews in Berlin. In 1933, when Hitler rose to power, there were 160K. In 2020 there are ~30,000.

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Text Source: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/3083

Image Source: JewishEncyclopedia.com

#judaism#jewishhistory#berlin#history#otdjh#jewish#germany#enlightenment#otd

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